Sidewalks & Roads
During the Utility Cut Repair Sprint, from spring until October 2019, City contractors will repair hundreds of sidewalks and roads for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists around the city. Locations are normally in neighbourhoods and can also be along busy roads. Work is quick – done in about 16 hours – and the cost of the work is charged back to the utility companies. Staff plan and time the work to limit disruptions while also scheduling around other work in the surrounding area.
What is a utility cut?
A ‘utility cut’ is an area of sidewalk or road that was cut out (excavated) to improve, install or remove a piece of watermain, gas main, power line or telecommunications infrastructure. When utility companies perform work that requires this type of excavation,
they are required to return the area to its original condition. Usually they do, but not always, and many locations can be access points for multiple utility companies. Those locations are accessed and repaired multiple times by different crews and the quality of the repair can deteriorate over time.
Currently, there are more locations than usual that require permanent utility cut repairs. Crews work as quickly as possible to return the sidewalk or roadway to a condition that is safe, passable and up to City standards.
More about the work you see:
Staff typically allow for up to a 16-hour lane or sidewalk closure per cut:
- one hour for excavating;
- one hour for forming and grading;
- one hour to pour and finish concrete; and
- at least 10 to 13 hours for curing.
Under normal circumstances, there are multiple cuts on any given block. Crews can repair up to 100 utility cuts per day depending on the size and location(s) of the repairs. Normally, it takes up to 16 hours for poured concrete to cure which may require extended lane or sidewalk closures.
Crews notify business and property owners in advance (in writing). And, when necessary, crews work with business or property owners to provide ramps that maintain access during these short construction periods. Occasionally there is unexpected additional maintenance work required, or inclement weather, which may result in longer than expected closures.
The City is committed to keep infrastructure in a state of good repair at a minimal cost. Toronto uses a cost-effective way of maintaining City infrastructure called “life-cycle costing.” Repairing roads, sidewalks, bridges, and expressways as necessary. This avoids costly maintenance in the future. It also extends the life of infrastructure before it would need reconstruction. This practice is applied to roads, sidewalks, bridges and expressways.
The City’s roadways are an asphalt top and a concrete bottom. In most cases, a new road’s asphalt has a life span of 18-25 years. Cracks and holes appear in the road as weather conditions and regular wear-and-tear occur, then City staff repair them. When water enters the cracks created in the road, it can lift chunks of the asphalt.
When a road has existed for about 20 years, inspectors look at the road and perform engineering tests to determine if it needs a new surface. If deemed to be in good shape, there is no work done on the road and inspectors return at a later date to re-inspect the road. If the asphalt is in disrepair, the City will plan road resurfacing work, which involves replacing the asphalt surface.
If preventative measures, such as resurfacing, are periodically done, the concrete base of the road will last about 50 years. If preventative measures are not undertaken, a road’s base might last only 25-30 years. When inspecting the road, inspectors consider the condition of the road base to keep track of the need for a full road reconstruction.
Taking steps to repave the road before it reaches a state of further disrepair has some obvious benefits. The work results in an improved road surface. That benefits road users and also keeps the road base in a state of good repair.
When inspectors are looking at the road conditions, they also inspect sidewalks and sidewalk bays. Inspectors will track the condition of the sidewalk and note which sections need repair or replacement. This means replacement only happens to the bays in the greatest need. Replacement will happen when road work is already planned or on an as-needed basis.
Report minor sidewalk or road damage online.