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EA recommends knocking down eastern Gardiner

Posted by Chris Bateman / February 25, 2014

toronto gardiner expresswayAn environmental assessment into the future of the Gardiner Expressway east of Jarvis Street says knocking down the crumbling 50-year-old elevated structure is the best course of action.

Removing the 2.4 km stretch of highway would mean expanding Lake Shore Blvd. into an 8-lane arterial. Traffic lights and turning lanes would be installed at major intersections and there would be a ramp to the remaining portion of Gardiner at Jarvis.

The cost of knocking down the highway was pegged at around $240 million by Waterfront Toronto and city staff earlier this month. The demolition could free up land worth $80-90 million but it would mean commutes take 15 minutes longer by 2031, even with a Yonge subway relief line.

According to a traffic study, the eastern Gardiner carries around 120,000 vehicles per day. The portion west of downtown sees closer to 200,000.

toronto gardiner expresswayOf all the possible options - remove, repair, replace, or maintain - removing the Gardiner is believed to be the cheapest and quickest. Once given the green light, the work could be complete in 3 years. Replacing the road, the most expensive option, could take 8 years and cost three times as much.

Removing the highway would mean no more maintenance bills related to the elevated structure, which represents significant future savings.

Simply doing nothing is not an option: the Gardiner requires significant investment whether city council chooses an option or not. Chunks of concrete, loosened by salt corrosion and a decades of freeze-thaw, have been falling from the underside of the road for years.

Rob Ford has already said he is against demolition. "I want to maintain it just like most Torontonians do," he told CP24 earlier this month.

toronto gardinerLast week the board of Waterfront Toronto, the group charged with revitalizing Toronto's waterfront, endorsed the demolition option. The Gardiner East EA, a comprehensive study of the options for the road, was restarted in January 2013 after being quietly shelved when Ford became mayor.

The environmental assessment will be presented to the public works committee next month and could reach city council by April. If approved, the removal option will be fleshed out and presented for final approval after the election in 2015.

Chris Bateman is a staff writer at blogTO. Follow him on Twitter at @chrisbateman.

Image: Waterfront Toronto



PBJ / February 25, 2014 at 10:04 am
I like how Barcelona does it.. entering the city by the sea-side, the main street splits off into a below-ground high speed portion (like a highway with few exits) and the above-ground boulevard which is the slower, local traffic portion.

Very different city of course, but that would be my ideal solution
Mar / February 25, 2014 at 10:06 am
This is such a no brainer! Not only will it eliminate a crumbling money pit of an eyesore but it will make that entire neighborhood so much more attractive. I know the war on cars criers will have a hard time with this but let's be honest; they have a hard time with everything.
bm / February 25, 2014 at 10:07 am
Typical Toronto - hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on reports, no action.
Rob / February 25, 2014 at 10:23 am
Seems like a big part of this decision was to gain leverage for the DRL.
C / February 25, 2014 at 10:40 am
I like how the media makes this out. The study indicates there will be an increase in travel times for 1% of users - 99% of users will not be affected in any great way.

It would also be great if this article actually provided a link to the recommendation so readers could actually get a fair picture of this.
DL replying to a comment from Mar / February 25, 2014 at 10:45 am
Can you explain to me how tripling/quadrupling the number of vehicles on Lake Shore will "make that entire neighbourhood much more attractive"?
george / February 25, 2014 at 10:50 am
The grand boulevard looks great...but the gradiner/bypass should be build under it. Tunnel and cover with developer fees and a toll to pay for it.

Eliminating it all together is just insane.
Jacob / February 25, 2014 at 11:21 am
Do it.

I live in Scarborough, and drive down the DVP regularly, and the drive honestly couldn't be made worse by this when it's completed. Also, you won't have the regular extended lane closures for repairs.
Alex / February 25, 2014 at 11:45 am
Just fix it up and toll it. Get the money to fix it up from the province (an election is coming up and all the parties want those GTA votes), and use the tolls for future repairs and maintenance.

The condos already block the view of the lake, so the excuse that this is a barrier is a lie. Plus a super wide road is a lot harder to cross than walking underneath an underpass. Property values in this area are still super high due to location, so it isn't like the Gardiner is turning the area into a slum. Most people using this road don't live in Toronto, so do a GTA wide poll and find out if the people that actually use it are willing to pay for it, and if so then let them pay for it.
Mar / February 25, 2014 at 11:46 am
DL the traffic won't double or triple. People will find alternative routes. The chicken little talk. The attractiveness will come from the openness the sunshine the parks and the businesses. That area will be a lot more populated two years from now (panam village) the potential that comes with opening that strip to sunshine and visibility is very attractive.
Sean / February 25, 2014 at 11:51 am
I'm pro-removal, but am curious what the intersection of Don Valley and Lakeshore will look like.
Dogma replying to a comment from PBJ - nice suggestion / February 25, 2014 at 12:06 pm
It's purely a money issue. We should bury the Gardiner in the downtown and just have local traffic above ground. But nobody wants to spend that much money.
McRib replying to a comment from bm / February 25, 2014 at 12:22 pm
you're right, they should just knock it down and then check back in a few years to see if it was a good idea or not.

who needs planning?
Chrism replying to a comment from Sean / February 25, 2014 at 12:29 pm
For me also, that is the crux of the matter.
MilaCam replying to a comment from Dogma / February 25, 2014 at 12:31 pm
Bury it underground? Right, and build subways everywhere!!!! That is when pigs fly of course. It's just not feasible, people should drop it.
steve replying to a comment from Alex / February 25, 2014 at 12:41 pm
To say that condos block the view of the lake tells me you have never been off the Gardiner and entered the city. Also to say crossing a wide street is difficult sounds like you have never walked further then from the front door of your house to your garage. The Gardiner has and been very detrimental to the neighborhood that used to be were it now stands. Stay in the burbs and leave the city to those that want to live here.
Ben Smith / February 25, 2014 at 12:58 pm
@People Who Drive, because as we all know there is an excess of unused capacity on the subway right now...
ryengjoe / February 25, 2014 at 01:08 pm
I love how social liberals become fiscal conservatives when it comes to infrastructure funding. That is always the excuse "we cant afford to keep the road up" and "we cant afford to build subways to Scarborough" when really this infrastructure conflicts with their ideology of cars are evil and everyone should live in the downtown core and take the subway/lrt/streetcar/bixi to work. The city employs more people then choose to live in it and people need to get to work efficiently. Goods and merchandise need to be able to flow into the city, and this affects condo dwellers and suburbans alike. The Gardiner should be maintained for the benefit of all Torontonians, unless better infrastructure is built to replace it.
CaligulaJones / February 25, 2014 at 01:15 pm
Considering all we got when they tore down the Gardiner stump was a strip mall and the new street car barns, I'll say: meh. Believe it when I see this "attractiveness"...
More like millions replying to a comment from bm / February 25, 2014 at 01:48 pm
Hundreds of thousands, eh? Try millions. Yes, *millions* spent on deciding what to do with the Gardiner, without actually doing anything.

BlogTO (in an article by the same author, Chris Bateman) reported in June of 2013 that $7,000,000 had been spent on an exploratory study about what to do with the eastern stretch of the Gardiner, including $50,000 given out to each of 6 "winners" of a contest on how to redesign the Gardiner for the future (even though only one, or possible none, of these designs will ever be implemented).


The article above doesn't even mention the $7,000,000 study. Go figure.
More like millions replying to a comment from bm / February 25, 2014 at 01:49 pm
Here is a link to the BlogTo article about the $7,000,000 exploratory study:
thomas / February 25, 2014 at 02:14 pm
Since the gardener was constructed, population has at least doubled and even tripled in some areas of the GTA. Now, 50 years later, you want to reduce it by half, where's the logic?

Bury it and toll it, let's start thinking further ahead than the next election.

Boston did it and there a smaller city.
Alex replying to a comment from steve / February 25, 2014 at 02:33 pm
I've actually never been on the gardiner, I don't drive. What I do is take the subway downtown and walk around a lot. Funnily enough when I go from Union to harbourfront or cherry beach or anywhere else on the waterfront I have yet to hit some magical barrier underneath the gardiner. It's weird, but I'm able to simply walk underneath it and continue on my way. The strangest thing of all is that seeing the gardiner doesn't make me suddenly recoil in horror and decide not to go to the waterfront. Crossing University is by comparison much harder, and can't be done in one go unless you're there when the light changes.

I'm a new addition to TO though, so what neighbourhood east of Jarvis was destroyed with the gardiner? I'm guessing it was the magical train enthusiast neighbourhood, since east of Jarvis the Gardiner has the railway tracks to the north, and factories and warehouses to the south.

It's pretty hypocritical of everyone to demand we spend billions of dollars on new subways to relieve congestion on the yonge line and save a couple minutes in commute time, but we're not willing to spend a couple hundred million to save the people that use that section of the gardiner over 10 minutes each way of commute time. If we want to improve congestion in the city we need to focus on ALL areas of transportation, not just transit.
CaligulaJones replying to a comment from Alex / February 25, 2014 at 03:22 pm
Amen. I wish the car haters (sorry, no other word for them: see "People who drive in Toronto are idiots anyway") would understand that EVERYTHING they own, from the clothes they wear to the food they eat to the bikes they ride, spends part of its life on a TRUCK.

Congestion costs. Deal with it.
patgaf replying to a comment from DL / February 25, 2014 at 03:23 pm
It will get rid of the hulking mass of a highway and turn it into a wide street
stopitman / February 25, 2014 at 05:33 pm
There are two things that will be for certain in the final outcome of the Gardiner: (1) It will be torn down, especially from The Ex where it becomes elevated, sometime in it's future and (2) it will not be replaced by an underground highway.

Underground highways always go way over budget and you'd be trying to build a highway in garbage and infill that essentially contains the water table since it was previously lake. Condo towers have to dig 5 stories underground to hit bedrock, do you think they'll want to dig that deep or put in the necessary large sums of money to sink piles to the bedrock? No freaking way. The capacity of the Gardiner could be replaced by upgraded GO tracks (eletrified) and signals (EU style) to the point where 2 GO tracks have the capacity of a subway line (50k/ppl/hour)
Steven / February 25, 2014 at 05:46 pm
You're driving south on the DVP. How the hell does one get on the Gardiner?
AML / February 25, 2014 at 07:32 pm
Hmmm...I live down here and it seems to me that there are an awful lot of train tracks.

Any idea where they are hiding on this lovely boulevard?
Mark / February 25, 2014 at 07:37 pm
In case you can't get enough of the Allen/Eglinton Traffic Jam Special, your city union bureaucrats propose a sequel. The DVP/Lakeshore Gridlock Jamboree! What a great fucking idea. Take a continuous high speed highway and break it up and force drivers to sit at traffic lights spewing fumes into the air. Great idea morons.
Mike / February 25, 2014 at 09:26 pm
Removing the direct connection between the DVP and the Gardiner, and thus the QEW, is a huge mistake. Downtown Toronto does not need more condos at the expense of one of our only highways. The negative impact of this decision will be felt immediately and will be looked back at in disbelief in 10+ years. Sure the Gardiner isn't beautiful, but Toronto can't afford to kill our transit infrastructure for such concerns. It should be repaired or rebuilt as it is now, possibly with some tree planters in some sections along the sides. Hopefully this will be a municipal election issue so any candidate taking the position of this EA can lose badly. Please don't let Ford be the only candidate arguing to keep the entire Gardiner...
WTF replying to a comment from People who drive in Toronto are idiots anyway / February 25, 2014 at 10:44 pm
You're the IDIOT! Actually, "IDIOT" doesn't do you justice!

The fact is, people who drive to work (most anyway) pay the majority of the taxes in this city. Don't piss them off too much or they will leave the city. When this happens, who the hell is going pay all the lost taxes? Surely not the losers like you! The entire city will then crumble like the Gardiner. And you won't even have the tax revenue to tear the Gardiner down! So be careful when you walk under it.....

Rafa / February 25, 2014 at 10:53 pm
Do this and cause further chaos in this city.

The only group that this will benefit is CONDO DEVELOPERS who will line the new street with boring, unimaginative boxes.

No reasonable public spaces. No connection to the waterfront. No nothing. Only gridlock.
Lol / February 25, 2014 at 11:34 pm
^^^^^ they get soooo mad. You sky will fall types rule. Thanks for the laughs.
realtiyCheck / February 26, 2014 at 04:57 pm
Removing the connections between the DVP and the Gardiner would be an extremely short-sighted and foolish move with significant negative consequences not just for the City, but for the REGION. This is a vital piece of public infrastructure that shouldn't be done away with because past CITY administrations (Miller anyone?) have allowed it to fall into disrepair. If congestion is as bad as we are being told, and I think it is, then this makes no sense. And I say this as someone who gave up driving five years ago not because of cost but because I don't really need a car given that where I live is extremely well served by transit. When bureaucrats and politicians and urban planners and consultants talk about extracting more real estate value from these lands what they are really talking about is SELLING OFF THE PUBLIC REALM probably for more condos, which are of course (NOT) urgently needed. I'm not saying the Gardiner (specifically the DVP connection) should be their forever, but to date, no one has presented a plan, fully costed out for a viable alternative.
East / February 26, 2014 at 08:07 pm
For the record, I'm for leaving the Gardiner up, but what I don't understand is why this debate is just about a relatively small section at the east part of the Gardiner. Can someone explain that? If the whole debate was motivated by the crumbling cement, and that's happening in the west too, why are they just talking about tearing the east portion down? Will they want to tear down another section 10 years from now?

(And just as an aside, all those who are in favour of tearing it down for urban-design/beautification reasons should tour the rather industrial stretch of Lakeshore that has developed since the first stretch of the Gardiner was torn down between Leslie and Logan 12 years ago to see that tearing down the Gardiner does not a garden make.)
kn / March 2, 2014 at 02:47 pm
turn it into a 2.4km elevated park.
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