Toronto has become one giant construction zone.
Now I’m all for new development, cranes in the sky, new transit, blah, blah — although I wish the city’s planners would pay more attention to the lack of proper transit and affordable housing when they hand over building permits carte blanche or plunk bike lanes on busy arterials.
That said, the city is an unholy construction mess.
Despite the many promises from Tory to better coordinate construction, I don’t see it happening.
Or if it is, the projects are so poorly managed that they never finish on time, let alone on budget.
I spent a lot of time this past winter jogging around Toronto preparing to run last Sunday’s Toronto half-marathon.
I obseved a consistent set of themes: Construction projects blocking lanes of traffic; traffic absolutely paralyzed by construction, including pedestrian sidewalks (the mess down on York St. towards Queen’s Quay was particularly bad); construction debris, in particular orange and black cones left half crumpled and blocking lanes of traffic long after they’re needed; and cracks in the sidewalk and holes in the road, many of which have not been fixed by the alleged flying pothole squad.
There is a culture of complete negligence and indifference when it comes to construction and I blame the politicians and bureaucrats at City Hall.
We’re all happy to be inconvenienced if it means better roads and sidewalks and a more vibrant city. But when I jog or walk by the endless construction zone we now call Toronto, I repeatedly wonder whether others see what I see.
I’ve written about it ad nauseum: The watermain projects like the $9.6-million one on Bedford Rd., south of Davenport Rd., that dragged on for more than 18 months. I rode, jogged and walked by the site many times and never saw people actually working.
Ditto for so many others in the city that I often see sitting idle no doubt as contractors move from job to job never getting one done at once.
The city’s bureaucrats never push contractors to get them done faster by actually working on the job everyday or working beyond 4 p.m. (until perhaps 11 p.m.)
(Speaking of which, would it hurt the Crosslinx contractors to stay on the job beyond 4 p.m. to get the mess on Eglinton Ave. finished faster and to put us out of our misery. Last Friday I drove by their site at Chaplin Rd. and Eglinton at 4 p.m. and it was shut tight.)
Beyond the mess, I have to wonder what the heck the mayor is so proud about putting a mere $170-million into roads this year as compared to $105-million for cycling and Vision Zero infrastructure.
Our roads need to be the city’s focus, not projects the leftists have declared important.
Our roads are riddled with holes, craters and cracks — so much so that it has now become a competition between speed humps and all the cracks, craters and holes as to which sends one’s vehicle flying higher.
The cracks, craters and holes are not just a nightmare for drivers. They impact cyclists, too (last summer I almost went flying into a crater on Yonge St.)
Finally, the city is just plain dirty and shabby. We have no pride of place.
A condition of each contract awarded should be that contractors are required to remove their hoarding and orange and black cones as soon as they finish their projects.
A city bureaucrat should be checking that during any inspection of a job.
It’s not enough to stand at a podium and declare construction season open as Tory did on Monday.
I invite him to cycle or jog with me and see for himself how paralyzed this city has become from construction and gridlock.