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The Fixer: Gerrard St. utility cut shows a lack of concern for drivers

Utility cut

JACK LAKEY/TORONTO STAR A large utility cut recently dug in the eastbound curb lane of Gerrard St. E., west of Broadview Ave., is hard on cars that drive over it and forces cyclists into traffic to get around it.

Whoever dug the big hole in Gerrard St. and didn’t properly fill it should be made to pay for the vehicle damage it will surely cause.

Utility cuts are the main reason our roads are so much rougher than 15 or 20 years ago, and with so many new holes carved every day, it won’t improve any time soon.

The city has rules about maintaining the cuts until permanent patching is done, which utility contractors are supposed to follow, but its ability to enforce them is laughable, due to a lack of inspectors.

The absence of enforcement allows utilities to ignore the city’s standards, which seems to be the case for a huge cut in the curb lane of eastbound Gerrard, west of Broadview Ave.

We were tootling along in the curb lane Friday when we realized we were almost on top of the cut, which drops off sharply from the edges of the pavement bordering it.

With traffic next to us in the inner lane, we couldn’t swerve around it and had to stand on the brakes to slow down before we crossed it with a jarring thud.

It annoyed us enough to pull over and walk back to look at it, and found a hole that looked fairly new, filled with cement that was well below the edges of the cut.

The contractor could have filled it with cement to the level of the surrounding pavement, or even topped it up with asphalt, which is required by the city and keeps drivers from having to swerve around it.

Even a bump sign at its approach or fluorescent paint applied to its edges would help drivers see the danger before they got there, but no such courtesy was extended.

We watched as cyclists coming off the Gerrard St. bridge had to swing out into the inner lane to go around it, where they were mingled uneasily with fast moving traffic.

STATUS: We reported it to transportation services, which had it checked out and sent us an email that said: “The depth of the repair at its deepest point . . . is a little less than 80 mm, so it is within the accepted minimum maintenance for municipal highways as per the Toronto Act 2006. However this could create a major problem for bikes,” said the email, adding pylons have been placed at the west end of the cut to alert cyclists and drivers. It may fall within accepted minimum standards, but there aren’t many drivers who’d agree.

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