Thursday, July 17, 2014



I have a marvelous bit of news. The Royal York underpass at Dundas, which has been under repair since Noah's time, seems to be finished.
There are still cones and signs and bits of construction garbage here and there but there is a good chance that it's done.
I wish I could say the same for the underpass on Eglinton just east of Weston Rd. which has had the same confusing restrictions for as long as the Royal York affair but I suspect has been under repair longer.
I spotted a construction truck there the other day and some lounging workers but it's hard to tell if they were actually supposed to be there or had just drifted in some other road repair because they could hide out of the sun.
There is nothing unique about these two projects. There are thousands of other examples throughout North America of perennial road repairs where after a decade or two, you kind of just accept them as part of the scenery.
There are almost as many ghost repairs. You know, traffic is merged into one lane and the marker cones stretch off to infinity like some art school lesson. Bulldozer are clumped together with other equipment as if they're having a picnic except there is not a worker to be seen.
Gee,  you wonder, did the company go broke, or did the workers get lost wandering from repair to repair without a GPS to guide them, or do they work for some brief hour, such as 3 a.m, just to keep the machinery tuned.
Believe it or not, I have a message buried somewhere inside the frustration and the anger at the fact that our governments, whether municipal, state or provincial, seem to allow the road construction companies to play them for fools just like the poor homeowner who hires a contractor and find he only shows up one day a week because he has five or six other projects on the go at the same time.
I was pondering this the other day near Peterborough where all the traffic had been merged into one lane for ten kilometres or so and then I came across a couple of pieces of equipment with the workers yarning inside. I had to applaud their chutzpah. Why not shut down as much of Highway 7 as you figure you can get away without a rebellion even if you don't intend to work on parts for days.
Just who is paying attention to this? If there actually are officials in Toronto or the counties or with the province who are supposed to ensure a quick and efficient use of road closures and narrowings for repairs, they should be disciplined or fired or reinforced because the companies take their own sweet time and to hell with motorists.
Shouldn't there be performance clauses built into the contracts, that if some outfit wins the deal to repair the Royal York underpass, for example, the work must be finished in our lifetime.
I am not talking here of the horrendous examples of major construction projects that went crazy, like the Big Dig in Boston, but simple renewal of infrastructure that drags for more than a year, if you're lucky.
There has always been a notorious laxness in supervision of road crews. My newspaper proved that one morning. We rented some rudimentary equipment and scraped away at Yonge St. south of King, closing more than a lane with our sawhorses.  And then we went away, unchallenged.
City officials were furious the next day when we printed the story and demonstrated there is a form of anarchy out there.
 I suspect though that someone might have noticed if we had been there for weeks and not just hours like all the other work crews on our streets. But then again, maybe not!

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