Gardiner closures: Give crews incentive to finish early, expert says

Watch video above: Despite lane closures, most repair work has yet to begin on the Gardiner Expressway. Mark Carcasole reports. 

TORONTO – One lane of the Gardiner Expressway will be closed for two years as crews work to rehabilitate the aging freeway.

But one expert thinks it could be done faster if contractors were given the proper incentives.

Murtaza Haider, an associate dean at Ryerson University, said contractors should be given financial incentives to complete work well before the deadline rather than penalized for not reaching it.

“If you build the contracts and we draw up the contracts in such a fashion that if the contractor is able to deliver on the job faster and more efficiently and in a more productive way, then that contractor should be rewarded for such efficiency,” he said.

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Frank Clarizzio, the city’s director of engineering for transportation services said the city’s contracts are structured in a way that ensures “contractors complete the necessary construction work in the time specified.”

They aren’t rewarded for finishing ahead of deadlines but are penalized for missing them. Councillor Denzil-Minnan Wong said contractors face “significant penalties” are associated with not completing the project in time.

Watch: Global News stories on the Gardiner Expressway

The city is trying to complete three separate projects at the same time. The city is replacing the deck on the elevated portion of the highway between the CNE and Grand Magazine Street, rehabilitating three bridges between Humber River and Park Lawn and replacing the median between Ellis Avenue and Dufferin Road.

That’s a lot of work but if you drive along the Gardiner this week, you may not notice people hard at work.

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IN DEPTH: Trouble Overhead – An investigation of the Gardiner Expressway 

“I drove last night down the Gardiner just to see what’s going on and I didn’t see a lot of work going on either and that drives me crazy,” Minnan-Wong said, while noting there’s a reason for the delay.

The crews were working all weekend and needed days off, and crews are also doing tests on the road’s asphalt.

”They can’t do any work until those tests are completed,” he said. “They’re not out today because they can’t take all that waste, even if the tests were completed, they can’t take the waste to the yard in the rainy conditions, that’s not possible.”

Clarizzio says tests should be done and crews should be working by next week.  So why is the highway shutdown now? He says the lane restrictions were put into place over the weekend to make it easier on commuters.

When the highway was shutdown for annual maintenance, crews implemented the lane restrictions. If they hadn’t done that, Clarizzio said, the city would have had to shut down the Gardiner Expressway completely periodically throughout the week.

Read More:  Major construction projects to begin on Gardiner Expressway

“In order to actually place in those traffic restrictions, an entire closure of the Gardiner Expressway is required both for the safety of the public and that of the workers,” he said.

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When crews do begin working there will be two shifts working 20 hours a day. Haider however suggests the speed of rehabilitation could be increased by employing three shifts working 24 hours a day.

But Clarizzio notes it’s not possible, stressing there is a necessary downtime between shifts.

“The necessary shutdown of the equipment, the movement of staff, our contractor staff from the job site, leaving the job site and others re-entering,” he said. “Contractors have to make sure their entire crew is there and that sometimes takes a little bit of transition time. There are safety concerns as well with that.”

– With files from Mark Carcasole

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