Gardiner needs netting to catch falling concrete: Report
Safety netting should be installed on the Gardiner Expressway to protect pedestrians and motorists from falling concrete, a new report says. (Jorge Costa/CTV)
Published Friday, October 19, 2012 2:06PM EDT
Safety netting should be installed on the Gardiner Expressway to protect pedestrians and motorists from falling concrete, a new report says, and pedestrians should be banned from some areas around the busy roadway altogether.
The independent report was completed by engineering firm IBI Group, with a focus on future maintenance of the roadway and how to prevent concrete "spalls," a technical term for flakes of concrete that detach from structures.
The report was commissioned after numerous instances over the summer where pieces of concrete fell from the roadway, in some cases hitting vehicles below.
"There is no procedure or methodology that can definitively identify an imminent spalling threat. In order to provide protection and reduced risk, a physical barrier is required to contain spalled concrete," the report states.
That barrier, IBG Group suggests, could consist of materials such as debris netting, corrugated sheeting or galvanized mesh, which would catch falling chunks or prevent them from detaching in the first place.
In addition, the report suggests that because much of the Gardiner is elevated, pedestrians should be restricted from areas where concrete could fall, "thus removing the need for containment systems in these areas."
Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, chair of Toronto's Public Works Committee, said no one should worry about driving on or walking near the Gardiner.
"City staff say it is safe, engineers say it is safe, our technical services say it is safe ... The report says there are some areas we need to take a look at," Minnan-Wong told CTV News. "If there are any areas identified as being an immediate danger to the public, we'll be there immediately. And if there are areas we need to close off, we'll close them off."
Minnan-Wong added that he'd like to see annual maintenance spending on the Gardiner more than double – to about $35 million from the current $15 million – to ensure the roadway is properly maintained.
John Kelly, manager of infrastructure planning and transportation services, said the roadway could be used safely for years to come if it is cared for properly.
"Like any structure, it needs a little TLC, but with good maintenance, it can be maintained for hundreds of years," he said.
The report was based on information provided by the city, as well as structural integrity field tests completed over five days in August and September. Investigators tested for concrete "delaminations" by striking the surface and "noting the change in sound being emitted."
The report said engineers' findings "vary greatly" from the city’s 2012 testing, suggesting the need for more in-depth investigations.
"This limited substructure delamination survey reveals the importance of conducting a more comprehensive delamination (i.e. sounding) survey of the entire stretch of the subject highway, in order to identify and prioritize all areas that are in immediate need of repair."