October 22, 2012
Ford says Gardiner safe, despite falling chunks
By Don Peat, QMI Agency
TORONTO — An independent engineering firm's report says the city's Gardiner Expressway repair program isn't based on engineering needs and isn't in the public's best interest, but the mayor says the elevated highway is safe.
Rob Ford said he's concerned city staff didn't produce the report on the Gardiner from IBI Group until last week but he stressed he believes the Gardiner doesn't pose a danger to the public.
"I believe it is safe. I use it quite frequently," Ford said. "The chunks that fell down, we had a couple of issues...but it is an old bridge, it is an old expressway, it is an old structure — things are going to happen."
IBI Group's report assessed how the city manages and maintains the expressway, which was in the spotlight this year after several pieces of concrete fell from the structure.
"Potential concrete spalls (chips or splinters) present a significant hazard to public safety," the report says. "There is no procedure or methodology that can definitively identify an imminent spalling threat."
The engineering firm also says the deck repair/replacement program the city is undertaking isn't based on engineering needs and is "clearly not in the best interest of the public."
Ford said he wants to review the report.
"Hopefully nothing will happen," Ford said
The report was finished in September but Ford didn't see it until late last week.
"I don't know who was holding it off for six weeks but I think I should have been privy to the report and I wasn't," he said.
"I'm going to go through it with a fine-tooth comb and find out what went wrong."
Ford dismissed any idea the elevated highway should be taken down.
"No, I'm not tearing down the Gardiner," he said.
Public works chairman Denzil Minnan-Wong — who also didn't see the report until last Thursday — said he still doesn't know why staff didn't show him the report.
"I've received convoluted answers. None of them quite acceptable," he said. "Staff are aware of my concerns that issues of safety need to be brought to the attention of senior managers and council faster and sooner."
Minnan-Wong said he asked for a copy of the report just days after staff received it.
"I was told it was not available and I don't know that I could have been any more plain in asking for a status update," he said.