Midtown Toronto neighbourhood in construction 'hell' as city says roadwork needs a do-over

Some residents on Glen Cedar Road can't get their vehicles in or out of their driveways while construction resumes. (Paul Smith/CBC - image credit)
Some residents on Glen Cedar Road can't get their vehicles in or out of their driveways while construction resumes. (Paul Smith/CBC - image credit)

Just when residents of a midtown Toronto street thought months of construction "hell" were over, the city has ordered much of the work redone — meaning they'll have to put up with torn-up asphalt, blocked driveways and traffic jams until at least early September.

Arthur Eklove has lived on Glen Cedar Road, just south of Eglinton Avenue West near Allen Road, for 40 years. For the past two months, he's looked forward to an end to the disruption, but crews are now back to resurface part of the street, he told CBC Toronto.

"It was a little sickening to watch them rip up the asphalt that they just poured two weeks ago," he said.

"It's frustrating."

Glen Cedar Road, between Eglinton Avenue West and Ava Road, has been torn up since June. The city had scheduled road, sidewalk and water pipe replacements. The work was supposed to be wrapped up by Aug. 15. In fact, it was nearly complete when "soft spots" were detected in the asphalt. Now, construction has resumed and residents like Eklove said they haven't been told when this next round will end.

Tyler Cheese/CBC
Tyler Cheese/CBC

In the meantime, most of the street has been closed off as workers dig up the southbound lane.

Service vehicles have been allowed access but residents were told to move their vehicles to other nearby streets. Some can't even get into their own driveways.

Work 'needed to be corrected,' city says

Brad Ross, spokesperson for the city, told CBC Toronto workers detected defects in the roadwork, meaning construction had to resume Monday.

"A geotechnical expert said that, for the long-term life of the road, that needed to be corrected," he said.

Eklove, however, said he was told by the construction company that the city was aware of this potential problem even before the work started.

D. Martino Construction told CBC Toronto by email its workers did the job the way the city instructed and that the soft spots became evident during construction, which meant the scope of the project had to be modified.

In an email to CBC News, the city clarified that its geotechnical consultant did conduct soft spot repairs identified by the contractor, but due to heavy rainfall during the construction, the repairs need to be redone.

The entire project should be completed, weather permitting, by the end of the first week of September, Ross said.

He also wanted to reassure residents that no additional money has been spent to continue the roadwork.

"Work on deficiencies and the like are built into the budget," Ross said, noting that the budget for this project is $5.39 million.

But people living in the neighbourhood, like Mia Brown, are not impressed.

Paul Smith/CBC
Paul Smith/CBC

Brown, who lives on a nearby street, spoke to CBC Toronto as she was visiting her mother, who lives on Glen Cedar Road.

"It's been hell, to be honest," Brown said.

"It's been quite difficult for the past two months."

Drivers often use the street to get to Eglinton Avenue West, and that can create a traffic jam in the area, she said.

'It's gridlock'

"You can't get to Eglinton on a good day, but when … the northbound streets are closed, it's gridlock from about 2:30 until 7 p.m.," she added.

Coun. Josh Matlow, who represents the area as part of Ward 12, St. Paul's, said the city only made the problem worse by scheduling the project so close to the ongoing Eglinton Crosstown LRT construction.

"The city did not communicate with Metrolinx and their contractor Crosslinx well enough to determine whether or not both projects should be happening all at the same time," he told CBC Toronto.

Paul Smith/CBC
Paul Smith/CBC

It's understandable that the residents of this street would be frustrated given they've already endured 10 years of construction on Eglinton, Matlow said.

Inter-governmental agencies need to communicate better with each other, he said. He wants all agencies to work together to ensure that communities can still function during construction projects.

Matlow presented a motion to council last month aimed at mitigating the impact of construction on midtown neighbourhoods.

"When they're doing public works projects … they need to keep the public's quality of life in mind during the construction process itself," Matlow said.

Meanwhile, Eklov says the whole situation has been a waste due to the city's bad planning.

"It needs to be done. There's too much traffic on this particular street," he said.

"It's doing it and then doing it again ... It just doesn't make sense."