Doing nothing to the Gardiner is too costly – By Fred

Doing nothing to the Gardiner is too costly – By Fred

On April 15, Calvin Brook, an urban designer and planner with Brook McIlroy and Dr Eric Miller, a civil engineering professor at the University of Toronto, led our discussion on the state and future of the Gardiner Expressway. The issues at stake are transportation and urban design.
We started with a litany of facts: at peak times a lane on the Gardiner carries 2000 cars per hour, with 1.2 people per car, and three lanes in each direction. So we get to about 7200 people per hour in each direction. This number is close to the amount of people carried by streetcars on King and Queen, as well as the GO train, and less than the TTC. Cars take up a lot of space so it seems like highways carry more people than mass transit.
Next we moved to the urban planning aspect. Is there a good urban design where we can keep the Gardiner? Grade separated structures are expensive to build, and remove traffic from street level, so we should not simply tear them down. as Calvin put it: “The structure is hideous because no one treats it as a beautiful structure”.
Finally the main question: What do we do? Four classes of answers were: rebuild it; take it down and simply add mass transit; augment Lakeshore Blvd and add transit; bury it.
The lively discussion explored theses ideas in greater detail. For some, the future lies in mass transit, though others pointed out that they needed to get to places like Milton, Brampton, and other suburban cities where transit is inconvenient. Some strongly supported the bury it/”Big Dig” approach arguing that we should aim for what is best rather than worrying about where the money would come from. Many thought whatever the solution drivers should pay tolls to pay for it.
In terms of quality of life, cities such as Chicago have successfully integrated elevated structures (such as the L transit system) so it can be done. More importantly perhaps, because of all the condos in the city, the lakeshore can no longer be widened to accommodate more traffic, so the idea of a grand avenue is no longer feasible.
I personally appreciated a statement Calvin made: maybe $600 Million for a grad separated structure is a bargain. We have a beautiful highway that provides driver with gorgeous views as they approach the downtown. Why not celebrate our achievement by properly maintaining it? After all, the cost savings of not burying it would easily pay for a downtown relief line and much more.
One thing is clear, the cost of doing nothing is higher than whatever action we decide to take.

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2 Comments on "Doing nothing to the Gardiner is too costly – By Fred"

  • Lorne Corley says

    The Gardner carries more than people it carries truck traffic to the city center .
    closing the Gardner would force many business out of the city and create more urban sprawl.

  • Rt says

    Your numbers are wrong. The gardiner carries up to 110,000 cars per day in each direction. So a total of 220,000 . So at yor rate of 1.2 people per car that works out to 264,000 people per day. Most of those people travel at rush hour. Which is now a 4 to 5 hour window.

    I think you got your numbers from the average divided by 24

    You would have to run trains bumper to bumper… a continuous stream at rush hour to come close to the capacity of the gardiner.

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