'Busiest' construction season ever underway in Toronto with $1B in projects in the works

Toronto Mayor John Tory says the city has embarked on its "busiest" construction season ever with slightly more than $1 billion budgeted this year for work on roads, bridges, expressways, sewers and water mains.

'We just can't afford to let our infrastructure continue to age,' Mayor John Tory says

Mayor John Tory, right, and Coun. James Pasternak, chair of the city's infrastructure and environment committee, announce launch of Toronto's construction season this year. The city plans to spend slightly more than $1 billion. (CBC)

Toronto has embarked on its "busiest" construction season ever with slightly more than $1 billion budgeted this year for work on roads, bridges, expressways, sewers and water mains, Mayor John Tory says.

"We just can't afford to let our infrastructure continue to age," Tory told reporters at a news conference at city hall on Monday. "We've got to get on with the construction season."

Toronto's transportation and water infrastructure is used by millions of city residents, businesses and visitors every day and that infrastructure needs to be reviewed, renewed and upgraded to ensure the city can cope with booming growth, he said.

"Over time, that use by all of those people, increasing numbers of people, takes its toll."

Tory described the schedule as "robust" and the funding commitments as "massive." The projects will ultimately improve daily life in Toronto, he added.

Expect a 'busier' summer, mayor says

The mayor said the projects will cause disruption but it's important to remember that each project represents tax dollars at work.

"It will be a busier summer, with all of this work on our roads taking place."

Workers use concrete finishing machines in Toronto. (William Conway/Progress Photography)

The mayor said the money set aside for infrastructure projects needs to "stay put." Cuts by the provincial government could put these commitments at risk, he added.

Projects 'need to be planned well in advance'

"Our city cannot afford to make tough financial decisions after the budget has already been approved. These investments need to be planned well in advance," he said.

"We will remind everyone, including the government of Ontario, that Toronto is the economic engine of this province and this country."

The planned work will result in paving of about 140 kilometres of roads and improvements to about 200 kilometres of sewers and water mains, the city said in a news release on Monday.

Construction will take place across Toronto on more than 600 roads.

A road cutter stands behind a machine downtown. (Michael Charles Cole/CBC)

The city said it will try to co-ordinate construction to minimize disruption.

About $590 million will be spent on rehabilitating and improving transportation infrastructure. This amount includes:

  • $100 million on major roads.
  • $70 million local roads.
  • $200 million on expressways including the rehabilitation of the Gardiner Expressway.
  • $60 million on sidewalks and cycling infrastructure.
  • $45 million on Vision Zero infrastructure and the road safety plan.
  • $115 million on bridges, culverts and other transportation infrastructure in the municipal right-of-way. 
A component of a vintage water main built in 1906. The 400-mm diameter section of this cast iron pipe was taken from Queen Street East. About $480 million will be spent on upgrading water infrastructure in Toronto. (Toronto Water)

About $480 million will be invested in water infrastructure. In many parts of the city, some vintage water mains are 140 years old and made of cast iron. This amount includes:

  • $200 million on water mains and water services.
  • $75 million on sewers.
  • $75 million on basement flooding protection.
  • $130 million on storm water management projects, including the Don River and central waterfront. 

63 projects to have extended, overnight, 24/7 hours

Major projects planned for this year include: 

  • Kipling Avenue, Bloor Street West and Dundas Street West, Six Points Interchange Reconfiguration.
  • Four bridges over the Don Valley Parkway, rehabilitation of Don Mills Road, Spanbridge Road, Wynford Drive and Lawrence Avenue bridges.
  • Gardiner Expressway Strategic Rehabilitation from Jarvis Street to Cherry Street, first phase.
  • Bloor Street West from Bathurst Street to Spadina Avenue, watermain replacement, streetscaping, bike lane construction and road resurfacing.
  • Richmond Street from York Street to Bathurst Street, watermain replacement.
  • Jarvis Street from Dundas Street to Queen Street, road resurfacing (resuming from 2018).
  • Don and Central Waterfront, first phase, Coxwell Bypass Tunnel boring.
  • Queen Street East and Eastern Avenue, TTC track replacement.
  • Birchmount Road from Eglinton Avenue East to Lawrence Avenue East, road resurfacing.
  • Midland Avenue from Danforth Avenue to Lawrence Avenue East, road reconstruction.
  • Old Weston Road from St. Clair Avenue West to Rowntree Avenue, road resurfacing.
  • Royal York from Dixon Road to Summitcrest Drive, road resurfacing.
  • York Mills Road from Leslie Street to Don Mills Road, road resurfacing.
  • Willowdale Avenue from Empress Avenue to Finch Avenue, road resurfacing and bike lane installation.
  • Bayview Avenue over the west Don River, bridge repairs. 
Mayor John Tory says all of these construction projects will cause some disruption this summer. (David Donnelly/CBC)

To curb traffic congestion during the construction season, the city will extend work hours for key projects, bundle projects together and roll out timing changes to signals on certain routes.

The city said crews will work on 63 projects on extended, overnight or around the clock work hours.

Toronto residents are urged to plan travel, consider alternate routes, follow signs around work zones and try to be patient while travelling in and around work zones.

Residents, businesses and visitors are urged to use a web-based map to avoid road closures. 

The mayor says the construction work will ultimately improve daily life in Toronto. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)