Officials overseeing the demolition of the eastern ramps of the Gardiner Expressway as part of a major reconstruction project have launched an investigation after debris fell into the rear window of a SUV.
“I was kind of shocked and trying to make sense of what the heck just happened, and then (I) just put two and two together looking up and seeing something just heavy and big fell and smashed my window,” Andrew Addison, who was behind the wheel of the vehicle, told Global News Friday afternoon.
He said he was driving on Lake Shore Boulevard East area near Don Roadway on Thursday when the incident happened, adding he was stopped at a red light.
“A huge crash sound, like almost like a bomb. I thought I had been rear-ended,” Addison recalled while describing the sound, noting he began to see crack lines in the rear window right after.
“Half a second later it all collapsed.”
Addison said he called Toronto police right after the incident happened. He said when he called the City of Toronto about the damage, he was told to call the construction company.
“You do wonder where the buck stops in these situations,” he said.
The City of Toronto and Waterfront Toronto permanently closed the ramps connecting the Gardiner Expressway to Lake Shore Boulevard East (roughly between Don Roadway and Logan Avenue, west of Carlaw Avenue) on the evening of Aug. 31.
There will be intermittent closures in the area surrounding the remnants of the ramps until November as crews continue demolition. Eventually, Lake Shore Boulevard East will be reconstructed and there will be enhancements to the Don River. The project could last until 2024.
Andrew Tumilty, a spokesperson for Waterfront Toronto, told Global News in a written statement that the worksite is “continuously monitored” for safety issues.
“We are relieved that no one was injured in this incident. Upon learning of the incident, our construction firm, EllisDon, was alerted and are investigating to determine what may have caused the damage,” he said, adding work wasn’t taking place nearby at the time.
“Should there be a determination that additional safety precautions could have prevented this incident, those recommendations will be implemented.”
A Toronto police spokesperson confirmed officers were called to the area and checked nearby structures, adding “nothing of concern was found.” Addison was redirected to a collision reporting centre to file a report.
Coun. Paula Fletcher, who represents the area where the demolition project is occurring, said she noticed rubble and rebar at the top of the bents (the pillars that held up the old bridge deck) and wants to see action taken.
“Come here and clean the top of these, that would be my recommendation,” she told Global News.
“This is a transformational project, but number one is safety of all road users during this takedown of the Gardiner and the rebuild of the river.”
Meanwhile, Addison said he was glad his wife and his young son weren’t in the vehicle and that the debris didn’t go through his front windshield or sunroof.
“I was just thinking this could have been way worse,” he said.