February 5, 2014 7:39 pm

Tearing down the Gardiner could cost $240M, still the cheapest option: report

Watch the video above: Tearing down the Gardiner the preferred choice among some. Jackson Proskow reports. 

TORONTO – Tearing down Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway is the cheapest of four options the city has on what to do with the aging elevated highway, according to a new report.

Chris Glaisek, the vice president of planning and design for Waterfront Toronto, announced Wednesday that tearing down the elevated highway is the option that most that most closely aligns with the official plan for the waterfront.

Tearing it down is also considered the cheapest option by Waterfront Toronto who estimate that to cost approximately $240 million.

The recommendation comes as a result of an environmental assessment – or study – of the expressway and the various options available to councillors to decide the future of the Gardiner, which range from tearing it down, maintaining it, improving it or replacing it.

Timelines of Gardiner Expressway repairs (estimated):

  • Removing the Gardiner would take six years
  • Replacing the Gardiner would take eight years
  • Maintaining the Gardiner would take six years
  • Improving the Gardiner would take six years

Officials suggested tearing down the Gardiner would only add 10 minutes to the commute from Victoria Park Avenue and Finch Avenue to Union Station. However, they did all their modelling with the assumption that the downtown relief line and the waterfront light rail transit (LRT) would be built.

But Mayor Rob Ford suggested Tuesday it would be more cost-effective to maintain the highway.

“I’m not going to tear it down, it will cause traffic chaos,” he told reporters Tuesday while leaving city hall. “I want to maintain it just like most of Torontonians want it to be maintained.”

Watch the video above: Rob Ford says tearing down the Gardiner would cause ‘traffic chaos’


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The city’s environmental assessment found that at the peak of the morning rush hour about 5,600 cars came into the city on the eastbound lanes of the Gardiner. Fifty per cent of these drivers exited at the Yonge/Bay/York while another 25 per cent exited at the Jarvis, leaving approximately 20 per cent that continued east of Jarvis to the Don Valley Parkway or Scarborough.

A spokesperson from Waterfront Toronto, which led part of the environment assessment, said they studied the section of the expressway from Jarvis Street east to Logan Avenue because “it is the least used piece, in many ways, of this whole system.”

And while the city has grown significantly in the last 30 years, more commuters are using the TTC or GO Transit to get downtown than the highway, according to Glaisek. And Waterfront Toronto officials expect that trend to continue.

“What you see is that the ratio of people coming in by car on the Gardiner has stayed more or less flat of the last few decades,” Glaisek said. “Most of the growth over the last 20, 30, 40 years has been on transit.”

Glaisek added that the Gardiner is at capacity.

A December 2012 investigation by Global News revealed problems along the elevated portion of the highway from Jarvis Street to Logan Avenue including “punch-throughs” – or the chance of a vehicle putting a hole in the bridge deck.

MAP: The over 400 issues flagged by city officials along the Gardiner from 2009 to the fall of 2012. Originally published Dec. 12, 2012.

In April 2013, the city announced a $500-million investment in repairing the Gardiner Expressway over the next decade.

The mayor’s brother, Doug Ford, offered up a different proposal while speaking to reporters at city hall Wednesday Rather than tearing it down and building a large boulevard, the Etobicoke councillor suggested selling the land and using that money to bury the Gardiner, along with transit, underground.

“I would look at going to the market and seeing how much we could get if we were to build on top of the Gardiner,” he said.

The future of the Gardiner will go before the public works committee in March where it could be referred to city council.

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