Hybrid plan favoured for Gardiner

Dennis Hanagan —

At its February meeting the St. Lawrence Supper Club heard about the “hybrid” option for the Gardiner Expressway’s east end.

Toronto has wrestled for some time over what to do with this section of the Gardiner. A city and Waterfront Toronto project team is conducting an Environmental Assessment of the stretch between Lower Jarvis and Leslie St. to see what can be done.

The team originally looked at four options for the Gardiner’s east end—maintain it, improve it, replace it with a new expressway or remove it and make it a boulevard. But they were directed by the city last March to consider the hybrid.

“It (the hybrid) would keep the Gardiner from Jarvis to Cherry and it would replace the Gardiner with a new expressway function from Cherry east to the Don Valley Parkway,” city project manager Pinelopi Gramatikopoulos told the club.

The team will report its findings to the public works and infrastructure committee May 13 after public consultations are held in April. Possibly in June council will deal with the matter.

Gramatikopoulos spoke of an array of things the study had to consider, including safety, construction time and costs, air and noise quality, creating value on the waterfront, consistency with Toronto’s official plan, streetscape and cycling.

At one point the team was leaning in favour of the boulevard option “for its ability to balance modes of transportation and its ability to enhance and improve the urban and environmental conditions, in a rather inhospitable part of the city, and also to generate the most money for the city from development,” Gramatikopoulos told the club.

The boulevard option called for eight traffic lanes, sidewalks, retail space, cycling trails, dedicated turning lanes and 1200 new trees.

Over a 100-year lifecycle removing the elevated expressway and replacing it with a boulevard comes in at a capital cost estimate of $330 million and an operating and maintenance estimate of $140 million. Both figures are in 2013 dollars. It is the least expensive of the original four options, Gramatikopoulos said.

She said an estimated 120 000 vehicles travel the Gardiner’s east end daily, but only about 20% use it as a thoroughfare with the rest using it to access Downtown destinations.