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Toronto council approves 'hybrid' plan
for the east Gardiner Expressway

Although the future of the Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway is not an issue that directly affects public transit in Toronto, its fate has been the major issue of debate for the last several months among former and current politicians, City of Toronto staff, members of the media, planners, architects and everyone who cares about this City.

Today, the debate ended (for now) as Toronto City Council voted 24 to 21 in favour of the so-called “hybrid” plan for the expressway. Under that plan, the City would demolish the expressway ramps down to Lake Shore Boulevard East at Logan Avenue, and rebuild it on a different route to continue to connect it to the Don Valley Parkway.

Councillors favoured this plan over another option in which the City would have demolished the entire expressway east of Jarvis Street, with traffic from both the Gardiner and the Parkway flowing onto a grand boulevard — a wider Lake Shore Boulevard East with as much as eight lanes of traffic.

We don’t know, yet, how this plan will play out or affect current or future transit for the area nearby, including:

  • GO Transit buses operating along the Gardiner and Parkway;
  • GO Transit trains operating near the Gardiner and Parkway;
  • City of Toronto / TTC plans to build a Waterfront East light rail transit line;
  • City of Toronto / TTC plans to extend streetcar service on Cherry Street to the Waterfront East line;
  • City of Toronto / TTC plans to extend streetcar service on Broadview Avenue to the Waterfront East line;
  • Mayor John Tory’s signature transit project, Smart Track, which would have seen a rapid transit station to serve a major redevelopment on the site of the former Unilever plant near the new connections between the Gardiner and Parkway.

What happens next? The Toronto Star answers five questions about the future of the project:

What happens now?

“Staff will report back with information on tunnelling and reconfiguring the Gardiner to the DVP, likely in September. Then staff come up with design options by the en d of 2015. The environmental assessment is submitted to the province by winter 2016. If all goes well, final approval from province by end of 2016, then design work in early 2018, tendering for construction contracts finished by the end of 2018.

Can the decision be reversed?

“Council can reverse almost any of its decisions but must do with a two-thirds majority, something that is difficult to achieve. The environment ministry, which reviews environmental assessments for technical compliance on things like research, or adequate public and stakeholder consultations, can reject the EA and council starts again.

When does construction begin?

“The earliest construction is expected to start is 2019.

Will the public have any more chance for feedback?

“On how to improve the hybrid, yes. The feedback that comes from city staff in September will be subject to public deputations, and final design will be at some point as well. Public input is also gathered during the provincial review of the environmental assessment, and that could include whether the proposal should receive final approval.

Will it close anytime soon?

“No. The east Gardiner is not expected to close until, at earliest, 2019.”

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