Don’t say you weren’t warned. This weekend’s closure of the Gardiner Expressway is the beginning of years of painful construction delays that will add time to your commute. Quite simply, there’s no escaping it.
The weekend road closure runs the entire length of the Gardiner, from Carlaw Avenue to highway 427. However, Friday night the Jays and Raptors games will be wrapping up, right as the city begins its 10 p.m. closure of the expressway.
Once the road re-opens Sunday, the real headaches begin.
In the coming weeks, one lane of traffic in each direction will be closed between the CNE and Grand Magazine Street (roughly Bathurst Street) for reconstruction of the crumbling bridge deck. This work won’t be finished until December 2016.
Like a bad infomercial, just wait, there’s more!
Three bridges along the Gardiner need to be replaced, meaning there will be one lane closed eastbound until December and the median between Ellis and Dufferin Avenue needs repairs too. That’s a 4.5 km stretch where one lane will be closed in each direction until August.
Roughly 150,000 vehicles move over that stretch of road in both directions daily. You can imagine what happens when you take away a lane of traffic, and force drivers to jockey for position on less road space.
In this case, alternate routes aren’t much of an alternative. Richmond Street is under major construction for water main replacement. Queen’s Quay remains largely closed for redevelopment. The city will also be re-paving Lake Shore boulevard in the overnight hours. Don’t forget the dozens of individual lane closures and restrictions surrounding the city’s ongoing construction boom.
The usual logic is that transit, carpooling and staggered work hours will get you through it. This time around long-term closures are guaranteed to create problems that are unavoidable.
The city has calculated that long-term construction projects on the Gardiner will add about 30 minutes to the average commute. That’s a best case scenario that assumes 30%-40% of drivers find some sort of alternate route.