There is a myth that the City is not coordinating construction projects on our streets.
In fact, the City has a strong coordination effort in place before any work ever begins. Outside factors such as weather, work by outside agencies, and sheer volume of projects are often responsible for the congestion we experience every day. One thing is certain: The city is facing an unprecedented amount of construction on our roads and it’s causing frustration for drivers.
The City is updating a significant amount of its aging infrastructure including roads, bridges and watermains as much of our infrastructure is reaching the end its service life and needs to be replaced. This work is critical.
However, the City isn’t the only organization performing construction work in Toronto. The City is experiencing significant growth–especially in the downtown core–and a lot of the work that you see is private construction. This has led to a demand for increased services, all of which adds stress to our roads as lanes of traffic are taken away to accommodate this work.
Additionally, organizations such as Enbridge, Toronto Hydro and the telecom companies continue to add to their infrastructure. Since most of this is buried under our roads, they need to cut into the roads to do their work. This often means lane closures and more pressure on our transportation routes.
But, instead of simply allowing work to take place wherever and whenever, the City has taken steps to minimize disruptions when possible.
Five years ago, the City established the Major Capital Infrastructure Coordination (MCIC) division that acts as a coordinating body for all groups – not just city agencies – that perform construction work in the city. In an effort to reduce construction impacts and avoid tearing up the same street multiple times, the MCIC shares information between all groups and co-ordinates all long-term work. However, there are often unforeseen circumstances that the MCIC must work around.
For example: A recent sinkhole has closed a road that runs parallel to a road where road reconstruction is planned to take place. Transportation Services staff would review the situation and make changes as necessary to ensure that work on the two roads is not done at the same time.
As part of the co-ordination, the City endeavours to keep traffic moving during construction by accelerating construction projects when possible, implementing signal timing changes on parallel roads, and/or limiting short-term work on nearby roads.
Despite all of these efforts, it is impossible to plan for the unexpected–emergency work. Sometimes a safety issue will result in a lane of traffic being closed temporarily causing inevitable delays.
There are a number of challenges, but the city is making every effort to ensure critical work is completed while accommodating all road users and minimizing disruptions.