By Robin MacLennan
GTA Construction Report staff writer
The City of Toronto has launched a new pilot project at Yonge and Eglinton in an effort to reduce the impacts of construction, improve road safety and keep traffic moving around areas in the city with a dense concentration of construction activity.
The Construction Hub Co-ordination Pilot will see city staff proactively manage work zones in a ‘construction hub’ – a high-growth area with multiple construction projects happening near each other.
The pilot will minimize disruption to the travelling public by engaging with public and private sector contractors to ensure safety, manage parking and loading to improve accessibility, work with businesses and communities to forecast and curb disturbances.
The one-year pilot was launched on Monday and will conclude in December 2020. An on-the-ground ‘hub co-ordinator’ will conduct logistical planning of the right-of-way, review Construction Management Plans, connect travellers with real-time information, collaborate with enforcement officers and communicate impacts and changes to businesses and communities in the neighbourhood.
“To help keep residents safe on our streets while construction is underway, we are launching the Construction Hub Coordination pilot at Yonge and Eglinton,” Toronto Mayor John Tory said at a press conference announcing the pilot.
“I’m confident this pilot will see better planned projects in the public right-of-way – which will help keep people safer, save money and protect public assets in addition to reducing construction-related impacts in the city.”
There are currently about 30 condo developments underway in the area, in addition to the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project. Dozens of construction sites in a concentrated area have created hazardous conditions for pedestrians.
Tory says similar projects have proven to be successful in other cities. In 2016, Seattle implemented construction hubs in areas they identified as high-risk for mobility conflicts.
He used the City of Seattle as an example, stating that a construction hub program has saved 200 days of construction, $15.5 million, and the equivalent 1,600 tonnes of CO2 carbon equivalent.
A hub co-ordinator has been assigned to serve as the single point of contact for everyone involved: businesses, community stakeholders, construction partners, the police, traffic operations personnel and council members.
Scheduling will be a big part of the job, to ensure that not all of the heavy construction equipment is in one area on a specific day and creating schedules for all trucks moving in and out of the area – keeping big construction vehicles away from intersections through the creation of staging areas where they can wait until they are needed..
The Yonge and Eglinton construction hub coordinator will be the city’s eyes and ears on the ground every day to make sure areas are kept safe and that sites are working in a coordinated manner, the mayor explained.
“I look forward to seeing the results of this pilot one year from now and I hope it’s a sustainable project that will ensure safe, accessible and vibrant streets before, during, and after construction that can be deployed in other parts of the city.”