gardiner expressway toronto

Toronto hates how expensive it is to repair the Gardiner Expressway

Ah, the Gardiner Expressway: do we tear it down or do we keep paying hundreds of millions of dollars to repair it year after year? 

Since the 1990s, the City has spent millions of dollars repairing Toronto's aging municipal highway.

From steel corrosion to falling pieces of concrete (and chairs), the deteriorating state of the Gardiner's eastern elevated area, which runs from Jarvis to the DVP, has cost the City far more than the original $103 million it took to build it in 1956. 

Many have advocated to tear it down and replace it with a boulevard, most notably Jennifer Keesmaat as ex-City Planner and during her run for mayor late last year. 

That proposal flies in the face of Mayor John Tory's and Waterfront Toronto's longtime Rehabilitation Strategy, which suggests a hybrid approach to fixing the Gardiner.

That plan, which appears to be going full steam ahead this year, includes replacing the entire concrete deck and all the steel girders of the Gardiner between Jarvis and Cherry Street. 

If the construction moves ahead on schedule, drivers can soon expect to see overnight lane closures of the westbound lanes of Lakeshore Boulevard from Cherry to Jarvis starting Feb. 19.  

But critics of the hybrid strategy still find the maintenance plan of the 1.7-kilometre stretch too costly, especially considering it's one of the least used parts of the entire highway, carrying 120,000 vehicles daily in comparison to the western portion, which carries around 200,000.

According to the City's 2019 State of Good Repair budget, Toronto plans to invest more than $2.2 billion into the Gardiner over the next nine years to eliminate the backlog of maintenace costs, which currently sits at around $2 billion.

It's the most expensive maintenance fee in the budget, costing $1 billion more than the cost of Transportation Services in Toronto and far more than the TTC. 

Meanwhile, backlog for the City's housing services maintenance cost is expected to rise by nearly $1.5 billion over the next nine years. 

Lead photo by

Tanya Mok


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