December 16, 2011
As the pounding of drills and other machinery quiets down along Avenue Road so too have complaints, said Ward 22 councillor Josh Matlow.
A $60 million project aimed at replacing a more than 80-year-old water main has taken its toll on local businesses and residents since it began in May 2010, but many now see light at the end of the trench.
Local renter Taylor Simms-Brown told the Town Crier last March he was repeatedly woken up at 6:30 a.m. to a shaking house. He also said he intended to move from his home on Avenue Road just north of Eglinton Avenue if the roadwork became unbearable.
“I’m still living there,” he said in late November. “They’re pretty respectful in terms of they don’t really start working until 7:30 a.m. and they’re packed up by 4 p.m. so for anyone who works outside of their house it’s really not an inconvenience.”
However, some business owners see things a little differently.
Eglinton Way BIA board member and shop owner, Reza Hakim, said he hopes the project does not take too much longer. The president of Atlas Hakim Rugs said the construction has cost him 65 percent of his business plus several parking and traffic tickets. Mohamed and Zeenat Sharrif, owners of the nearby Prestige Cleaners, said they’ve experienced a similar drop in customers.
“Everybody is going out of business because they don’t have money,” Hakim said. “It is affecting all the businesses.”
Hakim, like some area residents, said he is also bothered by the lack of communication by the city.
Matlow said he tries to share any information about the project that he receives but would also like to see a page on the city’s website where residents can access notices and updates. While he said he empathizes with business owners he said he hopes they understand the necessity of the project.
“The quandary that I think we all find ourselves in as a city is that we justifiably complain when there are works projects because they interfere with our lives,” he said. “But then, if water mains weren’t replaced we would justifiably complain about that.
“I’d rather get some of this work done now so that Toronto infrastructure has a solid foundation for the future.”
There are hiccups, but they aren’t causing delays
Several sections of Avenue Road once reduced to a single lane of traffic each way have been reopened to allow for a full four lanes. Henry Polvi, senior engineer at Toronto Water said crews are nearing the final portions of work to be done.
“There’s a bit of work still going on up north of Eglinton, around Lytton Boulevard,” Polvi said. “But other than that the major work is pretty well completed.”
The old water main cannot be decommissioned until the new water main is built. According to Polvi, most of the pipe has already been laid and the entire project should be completed by September 2012.
“The lining company is lining the steel pipe in cement and mortar lining and after that’s completed we’ll do our pressure test and disinfect it and it’ll be ready to connect to the distribution network,” he said.
Area resident Taylor Simms-Brown said that section of pipe in front of his home was encased in cement and the road was repaved. Soon afterward though, he said the road was re-excavated and the original pipes now sit on the side of the road — pancaked.
“The cement actually crushed the water main pipe so they had to open up the road again,” he said. “There’s at least three sections sitting on the road.”
Polvi said the error would not delay the overall project and the contractor, not the city, would assume any additional costs.
“It was a little bit of a technical glitch there by the contractor,” he said. “It’s being resolved. That’s why that part is taking a little bit longer.”
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