Can Toronto afford to remove the Gardiner Expressway East?

On June 11/12 City Council will decide on the fate of the 2.4km segment of the Gardiner Expressway East, which spans from Lower Jarvis Street to the DVP. A decision is urgently needed. Since 2012, incidents of falling concrete have occurred along the corridor. The deck and concrete barriers are in poor condition and considered to be at the end of their lifetime.

The Environmental Assessment and public consultation process have produced two preferred options – either to Remove the Gardiner East or a Hybrid option. The Remove option would involve tearing down the Gardiner and widening Lake Shore Boulevard to eight lanes. The Hybrid option would involve re-decking the existing expressway east of Jarvis Street and the ramps and realigning a portion of the Gardiner and Lake Shore Boulevard to allow for redevelopment.

I will be supporting the Hybrid option. While the Gardiner may not be pretty, it is a vital piece of Toronto’s infrastructure. It is a link in Toronto’s circular highway system, which also includes the 427, the 401 and the DVP. Removing the Gardiner would increase travel times for people and goods and result in longer commutes and decreased business productivity. The public consultations solidified the fact that there is already a very high degree of frustration with travel time and reliability when travelling within the Downtown core and across Toronto and the region. The increased travel times of the Remove option could reduce Toronto’s economic competitiveness. According to the Toronto Region Board of Trade, gridlock costs the regional economy over $6 billion per year in lost productivity. This cost is expected to rise to a staggering $15 billion by the year 2031. The length and nature of road construction is also a major concern. The Hybrid option would result in less construction disruption and a shorter period of road detours than the Remove option.

To maintain a high quality of life for residents and to help Toronto’s businesses succeed, Toronto needs a transportation system that links Toronto to the region. While the Hybrid option involves a greater construction and maintenance cost, I believe it is worth the essential investment. Less time in gridlock means getting to and from work faster, more time with family, and it means products get to market sooner. It is the best option to ensure we maintain a high quality of life for residents and ensure our businesses can succeed.

Background Information:

Remove:

  • Removal of 1.7 kilometres of elevated expressway east of Jarvis Street and replacement with an at-grade eight-lane tree-lined Lake Shore Blvd;
  • Realignment of Lake Shore Blvd. from Cherry Street to Don River;
  • Removal of about 750 metres (eastbound lanes) and 850 metres (westbound lanes) of the existing Gardiner on/off ramps west of Logan Avenue;
  • Removal of all road infrastructure along Keating Channel;
  • Construction of a new Lake Shore-Don Valley Parkway ramp connection;
  • Construction of new three-lane on/off ramps at Jarvis Street; and
  • Construction of a new multi-use pathway, as well as pedestrian and intersection improvements.
  • Estimated costs: initial capital cost of $326M plus a 100-year operations and maintenance cost of $135M

 

Hybrid:

  • Re-decking of the existing elevated expressway east of Jarvis Street;
  • Re-decking of existing Gardiner-Don Valley Parkway ramps;
  • Removal of about 750 m (eastbound lanes) and 850 m (westbound lanes) of the existing Gardiner on/off ramps west of Logan Avenue;
  • Addition of two new ramps (two lanes each) in the Keating precinct:
    • about 470 metres of new westbound on-ramp; and
    • about 425 metres of new eastbound off-ramp;
  • Realignment of Lake Shore Blvd. from Cherry Street to Don River; and
  • Construction of a new multi-use pathway, as well as some pedestrian and intersection improvements.
  • Continue to facilitate attractive redevelopment opportunities (i.e. opportunity for a secondary office market presented by the First Gulf site).
  • Continue to complement the Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Project.
  • Estimated costs: initial capital cost of $414M plus a 100-year operations and maintenance cost of $505M