Toronto

'You broke it, you fix it': Councillors say Metrolinx should foot bill for Eglinton Crosstown road repairs

It's been noisy, it's been messy. And some councillors say the years-long Crosstown construction has also torn up Eglinton Avenue. So who should foot the bill?

Eglinton Avenue a 'mess' of bumps, divots after years-long transit construction

A look at the underground tunnel of the future Keelesdale station for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. (Paul Smith/CBC)

It's been noisy, it's been messy, and some councillors say the years-long Crosstown construction has also torn up Eglinton Avenue.

"The road's a mess," said Don Valley East Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, who is leading a push to get Metrolinx to foot the bill for road damage caused by the construction.

He said bumps, divots, depressions and cement pieces make driving a challenge in the area, and he's among the councillors who believe the city shouldn't be on the hook.

"If Metrolinx broke it, they should pay for fixing it, and leave the road in the same condition," Minnan-Wong said.

Council backed his "you broke it, you fix it" member motion back in April. Since then, talks have been ongoing between city officials and the provincial transit agency, with the latest update heading to council's infrastructure committee on Thursday.

"Council's expectation is that Metrolinx and [Crosstown constructor] Crosslinx Transit Solutions (CTS) maintain the pavement on Eglinton Avenue in a state of good repair during construction of the project and restore it to pre-construction or better conditions upon completion of the construction," reads the new report from Barbara Gray, general manager of transportation services for the city.

In response to the city sharing those expectations, Metrolinx provided details of CTS's obligations, which include a plan to "reinstate any and all parts of the road and urban realm" changed to build the 19-kilometre light rail line, which is set to open in 2021. 

For the stretches of Eglinton Avenue in between tunnelled stations, where the road hasn't been changed for the Crosstown project, Metrolinx expected these areas would remain the city's responsibility, the report continues.

"However, while these lengths of Eglinton Avenue have not been subjected to direct construction activity, traffic re-routing, lane diversions, heavy construction traffic and the like have contributed to their deterioration," Gray writes.

Concrete barriers and fencing from the Eglinton Crosstown construction at the northwest corner of the intersection where Eglinton Avenue West meets Allen Road. (Lauren Pelley/CBC News)

City needs measures to protect roads

Minnan-Wong said he doesn't expect Metrolinx to repave the entire road, but does believe the agency should step up and fix any areas affected by the work.

In a statement, Metrolinx spokesperson Fannie Sunshine said "at the very least" CTS will be resurfacing areas of Eglinton Avenue between the guideway and new curb line throughout the at-grade portion of the project.

For the tunnelled portions, CTS will be building a new streetscape that includes a raised cycle track.

She also confirmed areas between the stations have been deemed the city's responsibility.

"Where do you draw the line of where the city's responsibility is and where Metrolinx's is?" questioned Eglinton-Lawrence Coun. Mike Colle. "The only way it can be done properly is through cooperation — you can't draw these arbitrary lines." 

Discussions between both sides could continue for months, with another update heading to the infrastructure committee in mid-2020.

Minnan-Wong said the city needs to build in measures to ensure outside agencies are on the hook for any road impacts in future projects.

Those preventative steps could be timely given the new transit agreement between the city and province, which sees Toronto backing four priority transit projects, including the Ontario Line — which may feature a mix of above and below-ground tracks similar to the Crosstown.

"Before we involve ourselves in these arrangements again, we should do a complete survey and audit on the existing road so that if there is damage in the future, we can go back and say, 'You broke this piece,'" Minnan-Wong said.

About the Author

Lauren Pelley

City Hall reporter

Lauren Pelley is a CBC reporter in Toronto covering city hall and municipal affairs. Contact her at: lauren.pelley@cbc.ca

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