Infrastructure & Roads
Elect Bob Masaro
Councillor - Osgoode Ward 20
Robert P. Masaro, B.A.(Hons.), B.Ed.
For Fiscal Accountability
Election Date: October 24, 2022
Election Platform – Major Issues in 2022:
Infrastructure & Roads:
- Pursue enhancement in materials and road planning methods used for “optimum durability” of our roads.
- Provide constant, increased funding for Road Infrastructure in the entire Osgoode Ward.
- Create a comprehensive plan for re-surfacing of all secondary and tertiary roads in Osgoode Ward.
- Improve Road Safety
One of the most critical concerns in our Ward is the need to improve the conditions of many of our roads. In total, Osgoode Ward has well over 500KMs of paved and over 100KMs of gravel roadways. It is indeed quite a large area to cover. However, there is no question that since amalgamation, the overall condition of our roads has been allowed to continually deteriorate by the city. Furthermore, many of the roads in Rural Cumberland including the villages of Carlsbad Springs and Vars are in very poor condition as well.
Root Causes of Problem
There are several root causes of the problem that I can certainly point out. The first and most obvious one is that Osgoode Ward has constantly received “low priority” status in the city’s planning. Clearly, roads in the urban and suburban communities have been given a much higher priority according to the city’s master plan. We have constantly seen our rural roads being done in a rush late in the road work season.
Inconsistency and Neglect
In addition, one of the most obvious problems that we had for years was a councillor, Doug Thompson, who would not stand up for us and provide the necessary input to the city on this file. Since road maintenance is one of the very few “core” services that the city provides for us we should definitely not have to get “down on our knees” to have these issues resolved. This is an obvious area where our tax money should come back to us. Furthermore, a consistent, clear and concise plan is required.
To highlight this lack of consistency and neglect, there are a few facts that must be put before you to consider. In 2010, an election year, approximately $9.4 million was spent to upgrade our road infrastructure. However, in the following year 2011, only $6.1 million was spent. Moreover, in the ensuing years the amounts that were allocated continued to “spiral” downwards to only $4 million being spent on our road infrastructure in 2013. Suddenly in 2014, another election year, we received about $12 million of road improvements in the Ward. May I respectfully suggest that we had a councillor that used our dire need for road maintenance as a “sham” to buy votes. Obviously, the clearly manipulated plans always emphasized where one could get the most political “brownie points”. If elected, I would provide constant, increased funding for Road Infrastructure in the entire Osgoode Ward. (approx. 25 – 30 million / year — NOT just an election year!)
Change the Approach Taken
In addition, there definitely has to be a change in the approach the city takes to road infrastructure in several ways. Far too often, the condition of the roads, full of cracks and potholes, is passed off by councillors and city officials with the rather weak statement that it is “due to the bad winter we had”. Clearly, these individuals are devoid of much insight into this issue. There are several other factors that come into play including the quality of paving materials used, the contracting company used to do the job and also the timing of the project.
I should point out here that I have an insight and knowledge of the Osgoode Ward roads like no other candidate could ever claim. For several years I worked on the roads during the summer months for the Regional government and also part of the City takeover in the 2000’s. During this period I literally went to each and every corner of this city, as I painted all the stop bars and cross-walks. I also walked many miles pre-marking newly paved roads for the large painting truck. Therefore, I definitely have some perspectives that I can offer as I saw what went on with regard to road work.
As an excellent example I can offer for your consideration is the condition of River Road. I pre-marked River Road (RR#19) in the section from Flag Station Road to the curve just before Mitch Owen’s Road in Manotick in 2003. I would appreciate it if you could look at the pictures of the current condition of this major road. This area of roadway has stood up extremely well for over 17 years due to the higher quality of materials used, superior contractor paving company and the time of year it was done! This section of River Road was re-paved last year to cover up the superior material comparison I have/will be mentioning in this post. Contrast this to Rideau Valley Drive (RR#3 from RR6) into Manotick.
The pictures attached include the area near Miller’s Farm, a roadway that was done a few years later. Also, compare this to pictures of Mitch Owen’s Road in front of Spratt Road, which was done as recently as 2009. In each case, I could even tell as the paving material was going down that the paving material was inferior, the company used took less time and care while they were doing the job. In addition, in these cases, it was done later in the season.
Furthermore, my observations can be substantiated by Simon Hesp, a Queen’s University professor. As Hesp points out, far too often in municipalities like Ottawa our roads are being paved using asphalt with “inferior additives” such as engine oil and oil residues. As he suggests, we should use a much better quality asphalt. Better asphalt would cost only 10 to 15 per cent more, but will add several years to a road’s life cycle. (prof has crude answer to potholes)
Therefore, may I suggest, if the city of Ottawa would spend the money initially on better quality materials they would greatly reduce all the subsequent costs such as for the road crews fixing the potholes and all the cold patch material used. Even of greater significance is the fact that there would be less damage to the vehicles of Ottawa motorists and far less claims for damage to the city taxpayers. As your councillor, I would be “relentless” in my efforts to get the city staff and council to listen to these facts!
In summary, the transportation master plan has to be “refocused” to reflect the realities of the size and condition of road infrastructure in this city. There is no question that due to neglect and poor articulation by our representatives the city has had absolutely no understanding of the importance of this issue to areas such as ours. They have to stop the ad hoc patch-work approach to road infrastructure offered to us to this point. It has always appeared as if they are behaving as if they are “plugging a dyke”.
Clearly, there should be a step – by – step master plan for dealing with our Ward and all others over time, not this “stop gap” approach. Far too often you see paving being ripped up as some other aspect of infrastructure is being done.
Our road planning should be done in a “regular rotation”, say a 10 – year cycle. Then, proper planning for all other road infrastructure could be allocated such as drainage, ditching, culvert replacement, wiring, lighting and so on. Furthermore, this “rotation” of our entire road infrastructure should be done using top construction companies, using high quality materials at the appropriate time of the year for “optimum durability”.
Beyond the suggested changes in the approach taken to our road infrastructure by the city, I suggested the following improvements in road safety in 2014. Thankfully, Mayor Watson obviously saw these and made them part of his 2018 platform:
- As each future new roadway surfacing project is done in rural areas the paving of paved shoulders or bike lanes (approx. 5 feet ) should be mandated and integrated as a “necessary part” of road infrastructure. Clearly marked with “no passing to the right” signage. This would greatly improve bike and vehicle safety on rural roads and also allow for safer stopping for emergencies including cell phone use. In addition, this would mean that any future edge cracking would occur along the side-panel not at the direct edge of the roadway.
- Should insist that paving companies provide a very “gentle slop” away to the edge of the paved area for proper water drainage off the roadway.
- Improve lighting along major roadways – such as Bank Street.
- Traffic control in dangerous areas – stop lights at some 4 – way intersections, safer crossing at school zones. I should point out that I do not believe in the use of round – abouts. The costs between stop lights and round – abouts are very similar, however, the contrast in the impacts felt by many are often not highlighted. My concern is always for the sight-impaired, children and elderly when they attempt to cross round-about areas.
- Greater traffic speed enforcement must be insisted upon, especially along school zones.
- Flashing lights and proper cross-walks in open roadways for safer crossing of snowmobiles.
- Improve signage – at some intersections street names are barely visible until you get there. Also there has been an obvious reduction in the upkeep and posting of various signs such as speed limits, this must be improved!
Clearly, these suggests are just a starting point to attempt to improve road infrastructure and safety in our rural areas and also in the city, but much more work needs to be done in all areas of Osgoode Ward.