Ontario using bad asphalt on highways, costing millions: AG

Shawn Jeffords, Political Bureau Chief

By Shawn Jeffords, Political Bureau Chief

Toronto - 

It’s one hot mess.

Sub-standard asphalt has led to early pavement cracking on Ontario highways, costing taxpayers millions, according to the auditor general.

In her annual report, released Wednesday, Bonnie Lysyk says some contractors hired by the Ministry of Transportation have been using the bad asphalt and being paid bonuses for quality even after it fails.

“Premature cracks in pavement have significantly increased the (MTO’s) highway repair costs,” Lysyk said. “The Ministry of Transportation needs to be more proactive to ensure the right material is used so that work is done properly the first time.”

In a sample of five highway jobs, the ministry paid $23 million in repairs after only one to three years. That’s on top of $143 million to do the paving jobs initially. All of the work should have had a life of 15 years.

The audit found that the MTO began to identify “significant problems” with cracking pavement in 2000, years before it was expected. By 2007, the ministry had developed tests to measure the quality of asphalt but failed to implement them at the request of the asphalt industry.

The ministry also paid bonuses to contractors after it became aware that they may have tampered with their asphalt samples, substituting good samples for the actual asphalt, Lysyk said.

sjeffords@postmedia.com