Gardiner construction has led to at least 230% jump in rush hour delays: study

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Speed of Gardiner overhaul questioned at Toronto City Council
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The Gardiner Expressway rehabilitation project that started this spring has led to a dramatic spike in rush hour delays and emissions, a new analysis shows.

The project, which involve parts of the Toronto’s main east-west expressway being reduced by one lane in each direction between Strachan Avenue and Dufferin Street, has led to a 250 per cent jump in morning rush hour travel times, and a 230 per cent increase in afternoon rush hour commutes, data from Geotab ITS reveals.

Geotab ITS, a transportation analytics firm, used GPS data from more than 10,000 commercial vehicles for the study, which also found those drivers are spending 80 per cent more time driving per day on the Gardiner.

“Geotab ITS found that the average time to travel from the Humber River to Strachan Avenue increased from eight minutes to 20 minutes, and the typical time to travel the five km stretch between Jarvis and Dufferin streets is now 25 minutes instead of 11 minutes,” it said in a news release Thursday.

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“Other Toronto roadways have seen increased commercial traffic as drivers seek alternative routes.”

Traffic hot spots on the Gardiner Expressway are shown in this undated infographic. CNW Group/Geotab Inc. and Geotab ITS

The three roads most impacted by commercial traffic congestion, with an average increase of 43 per cent, are Harbour Street (a 72 per cent increase in travel time), Lake Shore Boulevard (a 30 per cent increase) and Cherry Street (a 27 per cent increase).

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The amount of traffic travelling less than 25 km/h has doubled, the study found, resulting in an increase in emissions.

“Increased driving time led to a 23 per cent increase in emissions, equating to approximately an extra 1,200 kg of CO2 daily from the vehicles in the study — the same as the carbon footprint of a premium roundtrip flight from Toronto to Vancouver,” it said.

“As well, Geotab ITS identified a 26 per cent increase in commercial vehicle idling time.”

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Toronto trying ‘everything’ to ease Gardiner delays, Chow says

Last month, Mayor Olivia Chow told reporters the city is doing “everything” it can to mitigate the Gardiner disruptions.

The closures on the more than 60-year-old expressway will be in place for the next three years, and will only lift temporarily in 2026 for the FIFA World Cup.

“We have to rebuild the Gardiner. There’s nothing we can do about it,” she said of the more than 60-year-old expressway.

“We are doing everything we can to mitigate the disturbances caused by the Gardiner being rebuilt.”

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Toronto’s construction ‘catch up’ means ‘unacceptable’ traffic. What’s the solution?

Chow said on May 22 the city was about to begin a pilot project to alleviate some of the delays, which has since started.

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It involves extending the opening of the Jameson Avenue on-ramp to the westbound Gardiner. The current bylaw was amended to have the on-ramp open between 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Chow added city staff are looking at ways to ease gridlock at British Columbia Road and Lake Shore Boulevard.

Staff are also conducting noise tests on demolition work, Chow added, amid calls from the Ontario government for 24-7 work.

Chow said city staff are working on a report that is looking at ways to speed up the Gardiner work and that will come to the infrastructure committee this summer.

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