It’s an idea that could bring peace of mind to Toronto drivers worried about the safety of their route.
Motorists who now choose their course based on distance and expected congestion could soon be able to access information about the structural integrity of their route as well.
The proposed change – which will be discussed at a city council committee meeting next week – may offer relief to those worried about repeated stories of crumbling infrastructure.
A bridge on Dufferin over the GO rail corridor was the latest to raise alarm bells, but it’s not alone. Toronto is facing a huge backlog of repairs. On Tuesday, city officials are due to reveal to the media more details about the next phase of an environmental assessment that will help define the future of a portion of the Gardiner Expressway, a perennial source of concern, with a public meeting scheduled for the following evening.
Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong is proposing to have freely available online information about the state of Toronto’s bridges and elevated roads. The chair of the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee is asking fellow committee members to support a request to get options for how to provide this information to the public.
“I propose better disclosure of information to both City Council and the public on the state of our bridges and elevated roadways, including inspection schedules and results,” Mr. Minnan-Wong wrote in a letter released with the committee’s agenda.
“First, through the introduction of an online resource that is both easy to access and easy to understand; and second, through a requirement that staff report regularly to City Council on the condition of our bridges and elevated roadways and proposed rehabilitation plan.”
Like many North American cities, Toronto has long underspent on road repairs. They’re not seen as politically sexy and few points can be scored through construction that ties up traffic in the short term for a long-term greater good. The result is a road-repair backlog that has grown close to $350-million, not including the huge projected cost of dealing with the Gardiner.
In an attempt to bring the problem under control, the city allocated more money this year to repairs of arterial roads, and is expecting to add another increase next year. Over the next decade, an extra $283-million is being earmarked for this work, meaning that the construction-heavy summer of the past season in downtown Toronto is expected to become the new normal.
But all other projects are dwarfed by the looming work on the Gardiner. The aging expressway across the downtown waterfront is facing an uncertain future amid repair estimates projected at around $500-million over the next decade. Without work, the eastern passage of the road could be unusable before the end of this decade, city officials concluded last year.
On Tuesday, media will be briefed on an environmental assessment focusing on whether to replace, remove, maintain or improve the eastern Gardiner, approximately from Jarvis to Leslie. The assessment will be discussed at a public meeting the next evening at the Toronto Reference Library.