The street I live on, Gerrard, is a patch work quilt of roadwork because every year one of the utilities comes in, tears a section up and then replaces it. This lack of planning is costly because it wastes time, money and energy. The time and money of the companies with the constant digging and filling, the time of commuters who now only have one lane to travel in, and the energy of anyone travelling on the road who, instead of having a nice smooth trip have a terrible jarring experience. One of my co-workers had to call the city to fill in one of these patches because people kept loosing hubcaps on her lawn and another said the buses make such an awful thump in the pothole-like dips it shakes his house.
A simple solution would be to start a project management department as an off-shoot of the city which coordinates with the utility companies. You schedule roadwork for the entire city taking into account all the groups that need to get in there. Questions like, how long will the TTC tracks last, the cable, hydro, water, etc… should be answerable. These are not great mysteries of the cosmos but measurable definable characteristics. Utility companies would know when and where they will be working in advance so their scheduling gets better as well. There would be no unscheduled roadwork unless it is an emergency. And by emergency I mean a gas leak, not a “we want to upgrade a pipe”. If they want to upgrade a pipe it should be scheduled, and resourced in advance.
This is not that different then owning a house. I know my walls need tucking and the roof will need replacing in 4 years and the windows will need replacing next year. I can schedule this stuff in advance. Of course shit happens and things can get bumped. For example my roof leaks. But if I have two jobs, say putting in insulation and replacing the roof, I am obviously going to do these at the same time!
Every time one of these utilities needs to get under the street this department would contact all the other companies and tell them this is their chance to get in while the street is open. If they choose to participate then the cost of the digging, filling and repaving is shared between these companies. The more companies that get in, the less each has to pay. And then you charge the company for repaving. Not patching, repaving. You could also off-load the cost of police presence at these sites to the utilities.
This would reduce the unnecessary opening of streets, consolidate effort and prevent unnecessary stoppages in traffic. If Rob Ford and his people are serious about respecting tax-payers and saving money, this should be a no-brainer.