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$50-million MTO centre for excellence in the works

Posted: Dec 22/17

Daily Commercial News by ConstructConnect™

GOVERNMENT, PROJECTS

Dan O'Reilly

December 22, 2017

KASIAN ARCHITECTURE — The new $50-million, 78,250-square-foot Centre for Excellence in Transportation Infrastructure will contain state-of-the-art laboratories and offices and will be located on Ministry of Transportation property, on Arrow Road in the Highway 400/Finch Avenue area of north Toronto.

A major move is in the works for the Ministry of Transportation department to ensure quality materials and products are used in the construction of Ontario’s highways and bridges.

A preview of the move – why it will happen and when it’s going to occur — was one of the items on the agenda at the Ontario Asphalt Pavement Council’s (OAPC) fall seminar.

“We need a new building,” said Anne Holt, head of laboratory services with the materials engineering and research office (MERO) at the ministry.  “To be located on ministry property on Arrow Road in the Highway 400/Finch Avenue area of north Toronto, the new $50-million, 78,250-square-foot Centre for Excellence in Transportation Infrastructure will contain state-of-the-art laboratories and offices.”

Construction by general contractor Bondfield Construction has just started and the project is scheduled to be completed in 2019.  It will be constructed with a variety of materials, including structural steel frame, metal cladding, concrete panels and brick, a poured concrete base and glass windows as well as other architectural treatments.

“We have been working with Infrastructure Ontario and their architectural firm (Kasian Architecture) on the lab design,” said Holt.  “Besides ensuring the use of quality materials and products, MERO’s role includes facilitating the use of innovative materials and processes, setting material standards, policies, guidelines and conducting specialized laboratory testing.”

“But that role is hampered by the inadequacies of its present quarters in one part of a building that comprises the Ministry of Transportation’s Downsview headquarters.  The new laboratories will be more efficient than the existing ones,” Holt said.

Some of the research initiatives that will be undertaken there include dynamic testing, mix performance test evaluations and automatic asphalt extraction, the audience was told.

“As part of a long-term plan leading up to the occupancy of the building, MERO has pre-purchased some of the equipment.  While acknowledging some of that equipment has to sit ‘on 1950s lab benches’ at the existing facility, the pre-purchase will make for a smooth transition,” she said.  “When we get the new facility, we can hit the ground running,” Holt added.

She was just one of several speakers at the full-day seminar.  A number of business items were also covered, including honouring the OAPC’s 2017 Trillium Award winners.  The program recognizes asphalt plant operators who excel in maintaining and operating their plants in a manner that minimizes environmental impact.

In addition, the council’s 2017 Bleeds Black Award was given to Steve Manolis, general manager of Coco Asphalt Engineering.  The purpose of the award is to honour individuals with a strong commitment to the asphalt road industry.

In a wrap-up session, chairman Mike McLean said the council’s transformation from the former Ontario Hot Mix Producers Association into its merger with the Ontario Road Builders‚ Association at the beginning of 2017 was worth the hard work and effort as the expanded association now has “a stronger voice” in dealing with industry issues.