The Gardiner debate continues

A report recommending the removal of the eastern end of Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway is creating controversy in the city, but citizens still have a chance to voice their opinions. 

The report, released Feb. 5, presents four possible plans for the future of the essential artery. Most heavily favoured in the study is a design replacing elevated areas of the expressway with a boulevard, but it isn’t popular with everyone.

The plan to remove the elevated expressway scores highly on many measures. It’s projected to be the cleanest, quietest, and most cost-effective option, but it does come with a price to high for some.

It’s the most likely to increase drive times, adding 10 minutes to commute times and affecting the transport of goods.

Four options under consideration:

* maintain the expressway by reconstructing the deck
* improve the expressway by rebuilding the deck and improving surrounding area
* replace with a new, higher expressway to allow for green space and development below
* remove the expressway and build a boulevard

All plans under consideration depend on the development of alternative transit lines, like GO and LRT routes, to accommodate growth in traffic over time. Construction times are expected to last between six and eight years.

Quick facts about the Gardiner:

– the initial cost of construction was $103 million
– about seven per cent of Toronto’s morning commuters use the route
– some sections are used by nearly 200,000 vehicles daily
– traffic is expected to increase by 50 per cent over the next 50 years
– maintenance costs run about $7 million each year

The planning process is ongoing and expected to carry over into 2015.

Meanwhile, the city is undertaking emergency maintenance and repairs of the crumbling structure as part of a $500 million road improvement project.

A public meeting on the plans takes place at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 6 at Toronto’s Reference Library. You can also access the consultation online.

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