How long does it take Toronto to repair a bridge?
Unfortunately this isn't a joke, and my concern is that even bridge repair has become a traffic congestion political weapon in Mayor David Miller's anti-car arsenal.
Bathurst has been cut down to one lane each way between Davenport and Dupont for well over a year while the city lowers the street under a railway overpass to accommodate for the new longer streetcars that Miller has bought with our tax dollars, streetcars so long they would have hung up at the bottom of the dip.
Now to put this construction project in perspective: in 1917, at the height of World War One, when most able-bodied Canadian men were being slaughtered in Europe, Toronto built the Bloor Viaduct in one year, start to finish. This massive bridge across the Don Valley was also a feat of foresight, for the city engineer, R.C. Harris, had it designed to accommodate a subway train that he saw as inevitable over 25 years before it was finally built.
Let's see: massive ravine crossing bridge nearly 500 meters long (1600 feet) built from scratch vs lowering a road half a meter (a couple of feet) over a distance of 30 meters (100feet). The foundations of the rail bridge probably had to be underpinned without interrupting rail traffic, which is certainly tricky, but this is the 21st century with modern hydraulic tools the builders of the Bloor Viaduct could not have even imagined nearly a century ago. Yet this little project on Bathurst is now slated to drag on to April, bringing it to a full year and a half.
I used to work on sandblasting and painting old bridges as a summer job during high school and university, and I remember the contractor getting ornery as the summer deepened because he had to pay a penalty for every day the contract went past the fall completion deadline, usually a $1000 per day.
I happen to jog past the Bathurst Street contract a couple of times a week, and I've never seen a more lethargic jobsite in my life. There are usually only two guys hanging around, sometimes leaning on shovels or slowly building concrete forms. The contractor I worked for would've been spitting blood if this were his jobsite.
Then I remembered the words of Rod McPhail, the director of Toronto's Transportation Planning Department, who spoke at a community meeting in advance of the St. Clair streetcar right-of-way boondoggle: he stated to the crowd that drivers weren't "hurting enough to get out of their cars and take the TTC."
My jaw dropped: in David Miller's Toronto the main focus of the director of Transportation Planning is to "hurt" drivers.
I now wonder if that little contract on Bathurst has a reverse late penalty. Does the contractor pay the penalty for every day EARLY that he finishes? Does he get a bonus for taking longer?
Ridiculous, I know, but this is David Miller's Toronto.