ABOVE: If the Gardiner is a major part of your commute, Global’s Mark Carcasole has some bad news for you.
Monday was the first workday that saw the Gardiner Expressway reduced to two lanes between the Humber River and Strachan Avenue—and it’ll be that way for the next two years.
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.
While it seems bad, it could have been worse, according to Stephen Buckley, the general manager of the city’s transportation services department.
“It was actually done specifically to minimize the duration,” Buckley said. “So what we did was we took three projects, and aligned them to start at the same time to minimize the amount of time we’re out on that road.”
The city is taking other steps to minimize the pain by not allowing contractors to work on alternate routes during rush hour.
“If the public does see someone out there, we do occasionally have contractors that are not obeying by the permits they are issued. If folks do see them, we recommend they call 311 immediately,” he said.
Buckley estimates the closure of one lane may add up to 30 minutes to a person’s commute but that number could change. The city is monitoring drive-times from Highway 427 to downtown Toronto and says as people find alternate routes, change their routine or take transit, drive-times could change.
The traffic has to go somewhere and Buckley said he expects several major arterials to become alternate routes for regularGardiner users including Bloor Street, Dundas Street, the Queensway and Lakeshore Boulevard.
Meanwhile, the planned closure of the Gardiner between Humber River and Carlaw beginning today until May 1 from 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. has been cancelled.
Officials say “work completed during the weekend” has permitted the highway to stay open.
However, the Lake Shore Boulevard ramp to the westbound Gardiner – just west of Windermere Avenue – will remain closed until Tuesday April 29 at 5 a.m.
Three bridges along the Gardiner need to be replaced, meaning there will be one lane closed eastbound until December. 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.
The city has calculated that long-term construction projects on the Gardiner will add about 30 minutes to the average commute.