The Gardiner Expressway and Transit to Downtown

The City and Waterfront Toronto are holding a public meeting to present an update on the future of the eastern section of the Gardiner Expressway.

Bluma Appel Salon
Toronto Public Library, Yonge North of Bloor
Thursday, February 6, 2014 from 6:30 pm to 9:00 pm

A media briefing on February 5 introduced the material, and there is widespread coverage in the mainstream press that I will not duplicate here. My interest lies more in the relationship of the expressway to travel demand generally, and to the importance of transit for the future development of central Toronto.

The media presentation contains information that will be included in the public meeting, and illustrations here are taken from that file.

StudyArea

The section of the Gardiner under study extends east from Jarvis Street to the Don Valley Parkway, plus the ramp down to Lake Shore Blvd. east of the Don River. It is important to remember what is not being changed.

  • From Jarvis Street west, the existing expressway will be rebuilt under a multi-year program stretching to about 2019.
  • The south end of the DVP will be modified only to the extent needed to connect in with whatever new or revised structure might be built.
  • The ramp down to Lake Shore will remain in its current form except if the Gardiner is removed, in which case the ramp will be demolished and a new Lake Shore will cross the Don on a bridge at grade.

The Gardiner’s design capacity was scaled for connection to a future Scarborough Expressway that was never built, and the structure east of Jarvis is wider than is needed for the demand. This section gives the greatest opportunity for reworking, and releases the most land around the expressway in any new configuration.

The demand on this section is small compared with other parts of the expressway network to the north and west.

WestboundFlowOf the trips southbound on the DVP, 40% turn off at Richmond Street while the remaining 60% continue south, mostly bound for the Gardiner. Lake Shore Blvd. itself contributes to demand on the section between the Don and Jarvis. However, of the 4,500 AM peak hour trips on this road, almost 2/3 are bound for somewhere downtown. Only 1/3 are trips bound to points west.

EastboundFlowEastbound peak traffic is even more concentrated west of Jarvis with 79% of inbound traffic leaving the expressway before it reaches the section under study.

In both cases, the questions are:

  • how much should be spent on infrastructure for the comparatively low number of through trips, and
  • is a fully grade-separated road really needed here?

Although expressway users consider themselves a vital majority, the actual numbers for travel into the core don’t bear this out.

ModalSharesOf the AM Peak trips into downtown, 4% arrive from the Gardiner West. As we know from the destination chart above, most of these exit at or west of Jarvis, and they would not be affected by changes to the eastern section. 3% of trips arrive via that eastern segment. The vast majority of commute trips use transit (TTC/GO), cycle or walk into the core.

Development downtown continues both for residential and commercial space, and the rate of growth south of the rail corridor is running at a higher level than expected in earlier stages of the Gardiner study. This places additional demand on the transportation system as a whole, but there is no surplus capacity in the road network feeding into the core. The Gardiner West has been at capacity for decades, and demand from the north is constrained by the DVP where the inbound peak point is actually north of Bloor.

All of the growth that is expected over coming decades must be accommodated with improved transit and, to a lesser extent, cycling and walking.

DemandGrowth

The TTC section of this chart shows clearly the long stagnation in capacity to the core and the dropoff in demand with the mid-90′s recession. GO Transit has sustained growth, but it will carry less than half the riders of the TTC into the core even out to the 2031 projections. This occurs because development is shifting back downtown, and transit within the “416″ will take up the bulk of the new ridership.

The presumed development for the demand model includes:

  • Full build-out of the waterfront including the Port Lands over 40-50 years
  • City population growth of 30%
  • City employment growth of 30%
  • Increase of downtown trips of 50%

This produces a capacity shortfall for transportation from the east regardless of what is done with the expressway.

CapacityShortfall

 

Additional transit lines are essential to sustain growth in the core:

  • The “Relief” subway line
  • The Eastern Waterfront LRT line
  • The Broadview extension and LRT south to Lake Shore

The question of building more transit is no longer one of “if” capacity will be provided, but “how soon”. Growth in the core will be strangled without more transit, and this message must be heard by those who take the attitude that “downtown has enough subways”. The additional demand cannot possibly be handled only by GO Transit, although it has a role to play.

Missing from these charts (because it is outside of the study area) is a view of the problems to the north and west of the core. That will be the subject of an Environmental Assessment to begin in March 2014 looking at both the Relief subway line and potential GO improvements such as the “big U” via the Stouffville and Weston corridors.

PopEmpGrowth

Population and employment growth downtown are both strong. The recession’s effect on employment is clear with the slowdown in employment from 1991 to 2001, but the trend is expected to swing upward. Population downtown was once under 1/3 of employment, but the proportion is pushing upward contributing to the rise in walking and cycling trips. That employment growth, of course, drives the additional transit demand, but without that transit, the growth cannot occur.

The four options for the Gardiner are:

Opt1MaintainThis version leaves the expressway more or less as it is with changes only to Lake Shore Blvd. to better integrate it with the proposed street plan of the revitalized waterfront.

Opt2Improve

The “Improve” option has been simplified from the version presented in earlier public consultations in an attempt to lower its cost. Note that the Gardiner is reduced to two lanes each way in keeping with the capacity of the roads connecting to it.

Opt3ReplaceThis option provides a new 4-lane expressway at a higher elevation than the existing structure to reduce the visual effect at street level.

Opt4RemoveThe “Remove” option consolidates the Gardiner and Lake Shore traffic onto one new boulevard at grade. The new road has four lanes each way plus a wide median and sidewalks.

CostComparisonThe “Remove” option is the least expensive on a life cycle basis because it is much less infrastructure-intensive. Ongoing operations and maintenance would be most expensive if the existing structure were retained in part because it would be larger than is needed for the demand. A new structure would be cheaper, but still over the long term would require substantial maintenance. Note that on a net present value basis, the relative magnitude of future maintenance costs is much smaller because most of them are discounted from decades in the future. The high capital cost of a new structure, however, cannot be avoided as a short-term expense. (Note that construction of any option will not start until about 2020, and so even the capital costs are discounted to present-day dollars.)

ConstructionStagingConstruction effects would be substantial, especially for the “Replace” option which would require a complete shutdown of both the Gardiner and Lake Shore for 8 years. Such an interruption is not practical, and “Less Preferred” as a ranking is an understatement. The shortest construction period would be for the “Remove” option which could be accomplished in two 18-month shutdowns, one for each direction.

No matter which option is chosen, there will be some impediments to drivers for a considerable period.

TravelTimesProjected travel times raise the most concern among motorists who see their beloved Gardiner under threat by the “Remove” option. It is fascinating to contemplate that GO, Metrolinx and TTC might spend billions of dollars to make access to downtown easier, and yet the longer travel times for a small fraction of the commuting population would still dominate political debate.

The projected times are subject to review, and an obvious question must be why options other than “Maintain” increase travel times from Etobicoke to downtown. However, these are the numbers that have been published and they will set the tone for coming debates.

Which version do I prefer? That’s simple: remove this chunk of the expressway because its function can be substantially replaced by a much more attractive surface roadway. Toronto would not be the first city to do this, and it will certainly not be the last.

Can this option actually get through Council as it is now constituted? Very, very unlikely. But the whole thing will be back for another round in 2015 when detailed feedback from the EA is completed. The challenge will come if Council approves “Maintain” in 2014 and the EA proceeds only to look at that option in detail for the next year. A new Council may be faced with backtracking to make up for the partisan, shortsighted nature of today’s political environment.

What must not be forgotten in all the hand-wringing about disappearing road capacity is the much greater challenge for transit, and the threat that a focus only on the expressway will bring to the future development of Toronto’s core.

 

About Steve

Steve thanks you for reading this article, even if you don't agree with it.
This entry was posted in Transit, Urban Affairs, Waterfront. Bookmark the permalink.
RSS for Comments

45 Responses to The Gardiner Expressway and Transit to Downtown

  1. Jeremy says:

    Given that the existing problem is an elevated highway, building a higher elevated highway seems like doubling down on a bet we know we’ll lose. I know we have better construction techniques and all that now, but the replacement will inevitably have to fall apart at some point.

  2. 'Jiri S. says:

    I’d like to say a few things, which may not be directly linked to this subject. I would be extremely wary of 2 minutes here and three minutes there.

    We as society do not really know how the humans (that is, motorists) behave as individuals and/or as a group.

    Two examples:

    We had to go about three months ago from western Scarb. to Welland – a trip, which should take about two hours. Suddenly as we were about to reach Ford drive, I saw a mass of red lights in front of me – and then we went step by step for 40km from that point up to almost St. Catharines. There was no accident, there was no narrowing of QEW, no construction. We went home about two hours later and Niagara-bound traffic (in opposite direction) was as smooth as it should be.

    On another example I hit massive gridlock on a ramp from W/B 401 to S/B 404 – I rather turned north to Sheppard. Reason? There was basketball or hockey match downtown and detailed explanation unknown.

    My argument is: The study may forecast only 2 (two) additional minutes, but the “swing” from E/B on-the-ground Lakeshore to N/B DVP across two lanes of W/B Lakeshore may create such a backlog of waiting motorists, that these additional two minutes may be multiplied by 30, as people may have to wait for 30 traffic light cycles.

    So where is the care for environment?

    Steve: You have made an invalid assumption here. The link to the DVP would be grade separated from Lake Shore so that east-to-northbound traffic would peel off onto a ramp that would cross above the westbound Lake Shore traffic. No stops. No traffic signals. You have invented a problem and then based your critique on that invention.

    And please don’t give me an idea that on-the-surface boulevard would be beautiful in comparison to the elevated structure – University Av. is beautiful only on Sunday mornings, when there is a full sunlight without any clouds and without an avalanche of the cars.

    Steve: University Avenue would be a hell of a lot less beautiful if it had a six-lane elevated roadway running above it, not to mention the mess that access ramps at intersections would make.

  3. Ross Trusler says:

    I’m no fan of the Gardiner, I have avoided it successfully for at least a decade, but this data doesn’t support demolition. Demolition doesn’t pass even the simplest logical tests.

    1) If Gardiner east of Jarvis is considered overcapacity, then why is it so very congested?

    2) Regardless of the low share of through trips, there are a lot of through trips, including in the off peak, enough to warrant not being at-grade. So why should they be at-grade here?

    3) If the difference in NPV over 100 years is just $40M, then clearly the external cost increases will overwhelm any savings. Has commuters’ time cost been taken into account? The cost of providing even more public transit? Lost productivity from restricting the mode that provides the most flexible mobility?

    Let’s look at the flip side. If we proposed reducing the downtown trip capacity of any other mode, would anyone take the conversation seriously?

    According to the data, commuting times increased significantly in this corridor between 2001 and 2012. The most social good is achieved by reversing that trend, not ignoring it or making it even worse. To do that is going to take a LOT more transit infrastructure. To do it while purposefully taking a hatchet to the auto share makes the rest of the job nearly impossible.

    Frankly, I think the forecasted commute times are very optimistic. Toronto will be very lucky if they don’t double by 2031.

  4. William Paul says:

    why would an 8-lane mini-401 be more attractive? Difficult for pedestrians to cross (like University). Obviously no auto stopping/standing/parking so retail is not helped.

    Steve: During rush hour, certainly. Outside, when four lanes each way are not needed for traffic, there is no reason why stopping/standing/praking could be banned. One diagram even shows a combined parking/through lane.

    Transit not really needed here as Queen & King cars do quite nicely and will do even better with the new streetcars. If enough people would have used it the TTC would have started some kind of Lakeshore bus years but obviously no demand with other transit services so close. Tearing it down does nothing for the waterfront. Our view of the lake has been forever blocked some years ago by the 9 billion condos (and more to come) that sprout up everywhere down there.

    Steve: Transit in this area will be provided on Queens Quay and Cherry to serve the projected 50,000 new residents in the eastern waterfront. There is also a large commercial development planned for the Lever Brothers site that will be served from both the Broadview Avenue extension and the Queens Quay services.

    BTW we seem to love our islands but who was the mayor/council that decided to stick our ferry boat access down some alley behind a hotel anyway? I always thought the access deserved at least signage and entrance right on the Quay, not buried away.

    Steve: That decision was made a long time ago when a much more pro-development City Council approved the Harbour Square condos and the hotel next door.

  5. Devon says:

    Ross Trusler, the charts clearly show that even in the AM peak, there are less than 2000 through trips counting both directions. That does not justify a grade-separated road. From the looks of it, the biggest problem would be caused by people coming from the east and going to the Spadina and York/Bay/Yonge exits. In the grand scheme, through trips are largely irrelevant.

    As for the cost of providing more transit, you can also think about it in terms of the amount of money that won’t need to be spent on maintaining a hulking elevated structure. The chart is clear. The difference in operational and maintenance expenses is $525 million vs. $140 million. You can operate a lot of transit for $385 million.

    As Steve clearly pointed out, we are going to need a lot more transit infrastructure whatever we do with the Gardiner. Considering we are going to need to build the transit anyhow, we may as well get rid of the Gardiner and have a beautified city into the bargain.

  6. Jon Houle says:

    Steve,

    Do you know if they’ve considered making the intersections of Lakeshore in the area under study (i.e: Sherbourne, Jarvis, Parliament and Cherry) go under Lakeshore in the ‘Remove’ scenario? That would certainly alleviate the need for stop lights in those areas and would allow pedestrians and cyclists to cross this new boulevard.

    Steve: No they will be level intersections with traffic lights. There would be three problems going under. First, this area has a very high water table (it’s old lake bed) and construction would be difficult. Also, there would be no opportunity for traffic to get on and off Lake Shore, something that is part of the design. The really big problem is the amount of space needed for the ramps down and up again.

  7. David Magda says:

    Regardless of the option chosen, I’m curious to know if using movable barriers would be an option that would allow a “dynamic” number of lanes for the different peak directions at different times of the day. Kind of like Jarvis (reversible lanes), but with an actual barrier.

    Steve: No. With a wide, tree-lined median, something that is an integral part of making a more attractive street, the idea of a reversing lane (or two) is not practical.

  8. nfitz says:

    The change in travel times are curious. They are for 4 different scenarios, for travel to “Union Station”. It’s not quite clear what this is, but for some, and perhaps all the scenarios, much, if not all of the travel to Union Station does not involve the piece of Gardiner being removed.

    From Kipling to Union, one get’s off the Gardiner, before Jarvis. When I’ve driven to Union station (normally York/Front where the Green P is) from the DVP, I’ve gotten off on Richmond/Eastern/Wellington. And from Kingston Road/Victoria Park I simply drive down Eastern.

    So what about a couple of scenarios that DO use the piece being removed? For example Liberty Village to Don Mills/Eglinton. Or Kingston Road/Victoria Park to Kipling/Lakeshore?

    This doesn’t mean the Gardiner shouldn’t be removed. But presenting 4 scenarios where much of the traffic doesn’t use Gardiner East seems unfortunate. If one was paranoid, one might think they are hiding something.

    Where’s the underlying reports? I can see lots of media reports that a report has been released, but no report … just press briefings, backgrounders, and presentations.

    Steve: More should be available when the report goes to Public Works in early March. I agree that some of the trip choices may be odd, but this may be a function of the structure of the demand mode. At the presentation, staff did say that the model needs more work.

  9. Steve,

    The way I look at it is this: Short term pain for long term gain. Simply put the Gardiner is 50 years old now and showing its age. No elevated structure is designed to be up that long and certainly not one that is used as heavily as is the Gardiner.

    I say tear it down because if we do not it will lead to more investment and stop gap measures in the future. It cannot be kept up forever and doing so for an extended period will require a great deal of money.

    People are afraid that all hell will break lose and that civilization as we know it will come to an end if it is torn down. It will not. I live in Scarborough and travel along the portion of Lakeshore Ave East that previously had the Gardiner above it from Carlaw to the Don often before and after it was torn down. Traffic is not a mess and we are still surviving. In fact it’s a much more vibrant neighborhood now compared to before.

    I say we put up with the headaches for a bit in the name of safety and cost efficiency. Why try to save something that is years beyond its designed lifespan when you can tear it down and put something newer, modern and more practical in its place.

    I know you may not agree Steve but honestly … how long will we fight to keep the Gardiner intact and upright before someone throws in the towel and rips it down?

  10. kettal says:

    I reckon they could have an even bigger boulevard if they skipped the bike path and buildings. Just make a really wide boulevard with lots of medians and greenery, like St Kilda Road in Melbourne.

    It needn’t be a destination street when Queens Quay is the real destination. The replace option presented here is a “Stroad” which doesn’t make for a nice walk nor a nice drive.

    Steve: I am getting a bit tired of the whole “stroad” terminology which Councillor Minnan-Wong has inflicted on this debate. Take a look at St. Kilda Road on Google Street View and you will see a wide street (wider than the space available for the proposed Lake Shore) which includes generous sidewalks, wide lawns, trees, and by the way, an LRT/streetcar line.

    The whole point of the buildings is to generate some revenue from development and activity on the street. As for bike lanes, well I will let you fight out that issue with the cycling advocates.

  11. Bradley Wentworth says:

    Demolish. All you have to do is look at the main local roads feeding into or off of the Gardiner: Spadina, York, and Jarvis are full of local traffic and have no capacity for commuters from expressways, whether existing, improved, or new. Even if every single new residential and employment development downtown generated only walking, transit, or cycling commuter trips, you’d still have reams of commercial delivery vehicles and taxis making trips. The local road system is the bottleneck here. If you really want to increase auto-capacity you need to reduce congestion through pricing, it’s that simple.

  12. W. K. Lis says:

    Those “vehicle” counts (IE. Eastbound @ Dufferin 5,650 per hour) seem low to me. If one uses the “average” occupancy of a “vehicle” of 1.3, that mean only 7,345 humans per hour. That small number of people cause so much congestion for everyone. What a waste! That’s the real “gravy”.

  13. Andrew says:

    There is no way I would ever support demolishing any part of the Gardiner. There are only two expressways into downtown, both are very congested 7 days a week and tearing down a section of the Gardiner would create severe traffic jams not only on Lake Shore, but on Richmond/Adelaide and Jarvis and other routes. GO buses would suffer major delays, there is no way GO would support having a 10 minute delay every time a bus to Newmarket or Markham goes in or out of downtown. This should be pretty obvious by observing whenever the DVP or Gardiner is closed for construction or “Ride for Heart”. Through traffic through downtown may be a minority but most of it would undoubtedly end up on the 401 which has no spare capacity to handle it. Also why does this make sense when we are talking about the downtown relief line which basically duplicates the DVP south of Eglinton?

    Steve: I would add that those buses to Newmarket and Markham probably won’t exist by the time any of this happens because there will be frequent all-day train service. As for your claimed congestion, no the two routes are not very congested all of the time. I can look out my window at the DVP and most of the time it is moving. Congestion occurs eastbound on the Gardiner when the DVP has a major delay northbound and the traffic backs up all the way to downtown. Westbound, there is congestion, but further west in the part that is not going to be demolished.

    The various cycling events shut down far more of the expressway network than is involved in this proposal with predictable side-effects on neighbouring roads.

  14. Ross Trusler says:

    Ross Trusler, the charts clearly show that even in the AM peak, there are less than 2000 through trips counting both directions. That does not justify a grade-separated road.

    1550 is likely around 14K AAD through trips, about 40% over threshold. The through trip share is over 1/3, which is high, not insignificant at all.

    We don’t want those trips using a surface route there or (worse) elsewhere. And if they stay on the at-grade replacement, they’ll eat up an even larger share of the capacity, because the capacity will have dropped significantly.

    As for the cost of providing more transit, you can also think about it in terms of the amount of money that won’t need to be spent on maintaining a hulking elevated structure. The chart is clear. The difference in operational and maintenance expenses is $525 million vs. $140 million. You can operate a lot of transit for $385 million.

    OK, let’s ignore the NPV, it’s $400M over 100 years. The lost capacity is approx 1.5 billion trips in that time. You’re not seriously suggesting that you can serve that for $400M.

    And you’re still leaving out the externalities, which overwhelm these $s. We already have a low auto share in downtown Toronto, but lowering it isn’t going to make the city better, and nor is it cheaper.

    As Steve clearly pointed out, we are going to need a lot more transit infrastructure whatever we do with the Gardiner. Considering we are going to need to build the transit anyhow, we may as well get rid of the Gardiner and have a beautified city into the bargain.

    There is no beautified city, it’s a choked 8 lane artery, that will be congested for more hours than the present Gardiner, and will be 18 hours a day before the century is out. For a marginal improvement in aesthetics (if any, given the surroundings, who are we kidding?), you’re frittering away valuable capacity.

    More importantly, it makes the task of increasing transit capacity even harder. The cost of intensifying transit is non-linear, so killing the Gardiner requires adding the most expensive transit trips. Plus, we all know that it won’t serve those trips nearly as well, either.

    Toronto has a lot of fertile ground for trying to reduce auto share, especially outside of downtown. But we don’t have to destroy auto capacity to make it happen downtown. It will happen anyway.

    On a political note, I must say that transit advocates (and I count myself among them) make building transit immensely harder by endorsing the destruction of auto capacity on this scale. I’m glad that this likely won’t get very far, because it’s a waste of time and completely counter-productive to getting more transit capacity into downtown.

    Steve: The new transit lines are not intended to replace Gardiner East capacity which contributes a very small amount to overall commuting volume as can be seen from the charts. These lines are intended to provide new capacity for trips from a much wider range of origins to the growing employment centre in the core area. It’s not a question of building transit to justify taking down an expressway.

  15. Nathanael says:

    The usage of this section for through traffic is so low that it’s clear what to do: knock it down.

    Although the replacement proposal is a very wide road, it’s narrower and easier to cross than the gigantic mess of road, elevated expressway, stacked ramps, service roads, etc. which are present in all the “rebuild” alternatives. The diagrams make this quite clear. So it’s a pedestrian improvement.

    I don’t suppose anyone has enough sense to design the route for “Waterfront East LRT” and integrate the ROW into the design. If it were ever extended east of Parliament Street it would end up in the same corridor… and even if it simply turns up Parliament Street, it’s crossing the corridor. Coordinating design plans makes too much sense for anyone anywhere to do it, though, right?

    Steve: The LRT will be on Queens Quay because that is the focus of new development, and because this works into the future Parliament, Cherry, Broadview, Port Lands network (don’t forget that Queens Quay will go straight cross what is now Parliament Slip and Cherry will be realigned to the west). The Gardiner takedown only starts at Jarvis, not at Bay, and so the new road (and extra space) won’t continue west to Bay where it would have to connect into the existing tunnel.

    Work is underway between the City, Province and Waterfront Toronto to sort out funding for the LRT sooner rather than later because of development pressure. I hope to learn more about this and report on it soon.

  16. Ross Trusler says:

    I would add that those buses to Newmarket and Markham probably won’t exist by the time any of this happens because there will be frequent all-day train service.

    Those buses will not ever go away, and there will be more of them. They are faster than the train service, and that’s before more stations get added in southern 905 and in 416. For example, the bus from Aurora GO Station to Union Station is as fast as 38 minutes rather than the usual 60-70 by train. Over the coming decades, I wouldn’t discount a bus shoulder or HOV lane being created on the DVP and Gardiner to facilitate fast commutes for people in both the 905 and northern 416. The trains are unlikely to get sped up significantly, and those lines aren’t up for electrification.

    Congestion occurs eastbound on the Gardiner when the DVP has a major delay northbound and the traffic backs up all the way to downtown.

    Unless it’s changed in the last decade, I remember most of my Gardiner eastbound trips were congested from downtown until the DVP ramp, which would then flow well. Has tearing down the easternmost Gardiner stretch somehow eliminated that from occurring?

  17. Reg says:

    Excuse my ignorance on this one, but what exactly is the “Broadview extension”.

    Steve: Part of the plans for the development of land east of the Don and south of Eastern Avenue is the extension of Broadview south to Lake Shore.

  18. Saurabh Gupta says:

    I am assuming that with Remove option, Richmond would see lot more traffic. Will they ever make it two way again?

    Steve: There is a separate study looking at two-way operation, and alternatives including dedication of an existing lane for cycling. I doubt you will see a return to two-way because of the configuration of connecting streets including the ramps to Eastern and the DVP/Gardiner.

  19. Joshua Tossavainen says:

    I agree with Ross. The trip from Markham also takes around 35-40 min by bus, and around 60-65 min by train. So while the GO-Trains will be increasing capacity, my commute will actually increase by a good 20-30 min each way once the trains take over. The all-day GO trains will in effect be making my commute significantly worse.

    Steve: Your stated time for the trip by rail is well above the time shown for a Union to Markham trip on the timetable. Either GO’s reported on time performance is suspect, or some other factor adds to the length of your rail journey. By the time the Gardiner changes are implemented, improvements to the corridor will have made for more frequent and slightly faster service, while congestion on the DVP (which is worst north of Eglinton for inbound trips) will be much worse than it is today. Also, if we are to believe the projections for increasing travel between Markham and downtown Toronto, the volume will be hugely beyond anything GO could handle with bus operations.

    Can you explain the difference between your cited travel times and those on GO’s timetable?

    It is important that people don’t compare with their existing experience, but to what travel is likely to be like in a decade or later. Traffic coming into downtown by car will be a smaller and smaller proportion of the total volume because of capacity constraints on the approaches.

  20. Andrew says:

    Steve: I would add that those buses to Newmarket and Markham probably won’t exist by the time any of this happens because there will be frequent all-day train service.

    I think that there will be plenty of GO bus service even if GO train service does get improved. Perhaps if we could widen the DVP and add a proper bus lane (not the really narrow bus lane that is there now) then we could run express buses to various places that have no train service and not have those express buses stuck in traffic anymore.

    The most obvious evidence that shutting down the Gardiner would cause traffic problems was the flooding of the DVP south of Bloor on May 29, 2013. This closure during rush hour caused major backups on alternate routes like Bayview, Mount Pleasant and Yonge even some distance north of Bloor. This is in spite of the fact that the lower part of the DVP is a lot less busy than the portion north of Eglinton, just like the Gardiner. It is true that the bottom part of the DVP and the eastern part of the Gardiner tend to have less traffic congestion than further north and west, but they certainly are not uncongested in rush hour. Somehow I can’t see transit ever being able to replace part of the Gardiner, as many of the minority of people driving downtown have no real alternative. Even if we build the downtown relief line no one is seriously considering extending it north of Eglinton (where the worst DVP traffic congestion is) to make it more useful for people coming in from the suburbs.

    Steve: The primary purpose of the DRL is NOT for the benefit of the handful of people who now drive down the DVP. It is for the far more numerous people who now take transit via the existing network, and the new riders who will be attracted by growing employment in the core.

    Your comment about the flood is not a good analogy because the flood totally removed capacity from the network. That is not what is proposed and forced traffic that was using alternate routes to do so under less than ideal driving conditions.

    Please see my response to a previous comment regarding the limitations on bus service as demand grows in the Markham corridor.

  21. Jonathan says:

    I’m all a big booster of improved transit and increasing the number of people living close to downtown, but I believe that Toronto’s transportation infrastructure is too under-built to consider removing capacity at this time. Even though this stretch of the Gardiner is the least used, we’re still talking thousands of cars and trucks that will end up on the surface road network, worsening traffic in the area throughout the day. Drivers will also use alternate routes (Richmond, Adelaide, Eastern, Dundas, etc.) which are themselves at capacity. Transit has no slack to pick up any demand that is shifted as a result of tearing down the Gardiner. What do we expect people to do, stay home?

    While some may say that everyone should live close to work and I would tend to agree, it’s often impractical for people to move closer to work/shopping/family/friends given that the cost to sell and buy real estate is quite high (agent fees + double land transfer tax) and work arrangements often tenuous.

    Here’s my personal example: my wife and I live at Danforth & Woodbine, buying a house 3 years ago when we work both commuting downtown on the TTC. I still work downtown, while my wife now works on contract in Mississauga so she drives along the Lakeshore/Gardiner rather than face the 2 hour transit travel time. Her job is specialized enough that she cannot currently find work closer to home, so she’s stuck with the drive. I would love to move somewhere west of downtown to improve her commute, but we would face around $30,000 in Realtor commission and $15,000 in land land transfer tax assuming we could find a similarly-priced house, which we likely couldn’t since the west end is more expensive for the same house. So, basically she is stuck until she finds a job elsewhere or obtains a more secure position with her current employer, and we can commit to a permanent move closer to her work. From what I’ve seen of the Lakeshore/Gardiner throughout the day, we’re not the only ones in that situation. It would be a different story if housing was cheaper and transaction costs lower, but we can only work within the current reality which is that it’s often difficult to move closer to work without major sacrifice.

    I’m surprised the study only looked at the AM peak travel. I would like to know the impact on travel times throughout the day, especially since traffic can be heavy during weekday lunch time, weekend afternoons and evenings, etc. Will tearing down the highway lead to a 5 minute delay, 15 minute delay, or something else?

  22. CommutingAgainstTraffic says:

    The fact that there are few “through trips” is kind of beside the point. Any discussion of removing the eastern segment needs to start with a consideration of what happens to the 35% of Westbound AM Peak trips that are trying to get to the western part of the core, and currently go

    DVP>Gardiner>Yonge/Bay/Spadina.

    Even if you force as many people as possible off at Richmond (and I’m not sure there’s really much more space there) you’re still operating beyond the capacity of even a 4 lane street during the morning rush. This kind of relates to the biggest existing problem: that the expressway over-serves the ability of the surface streets to absorb exiting traffic, especially at Yonge/Front. I’m not quite sure what the answer is to this, but rebuilding the ridiculous on/off ramp structure at Yonge could be a start.

    Also, I have some serious issues with the travel time estimates, even above and beyond what Steve cited here about inexplicable changes. Why is it considered that the “average” trip ends at Union station? That’s not really the centrepoint of downtown. Furthermore it’s a somewhat apples-to-oranges thing, as the two northeast area commutes hit traffic snarls further out from downtown (the Eg-to-401 stretch of the DVP is often the worst), which could easily be swamping the effects of the Gardiner alterations.

  23. John Duncan says:

    Looking at the numbers, the obvious question is why are we only talking about taking it down from Jarvis?

    The lion’s share of Gardiner users are going to York-Bay-Yonge. If a ground-level road has capacity enough to serve westbound AM traffic from the DVP to Jarvis, it also has enough capacity to serve that traffic out to Yonge Street at least. And if most eastbound AM traffic is getting off at Y-B-Y too, then there’s no real benefit to maintaining an expensive raised structure past that area either.

    Steve: There is less room available in the overall corridor west of Jarvis because of the configuration of the rail yard. Also, I don’t think it is possible to “land” the Gardiner west of Yonge given how close it is to Bay Street and the grades involved for the transition. If the Yonge Street crossing became a signalized intersection, it would have to deal with not just the westbound but also the (heavier) eastbound traffic. I doubt this is practical.

    Something that has not been mentioned (probably because it is only in the proposal stage now) is the planned realignment of the Harbour / Yonge / Lake Shore interchange as part of the redevelopment of the lands east of Yonge to Jarvis. Harbour will be straightened out and will run straight through the block over to Jarvis rather than swinging north into Lake Shore as it does today.

    The other question is what happens to plans to remake Adelaide and Richmond from the current paired one-way carteries to two-way streets/add protected bike lanes?

    Steve: I am not sure we will see two-way operation on these roads given the way they connect to the existing feeder system notably at the “Duke and Duchess” interchange (east of Parliament). More likely would be a narrower one-way operation on each street plus a protected bidirectional bikeway.

  24. MarkE says:

    The Eastbound AM traffic chart appears erroneous since traffic leaving downtown eastbound is not shown. It is the total that needs to be considered.

    These proposals fail entirely to improve the lot of the pedestrian in reaching the waterfront from downtown. If the demolition option is chosen, Lakeshore Blvd, according to diagrams, is shown as 9 lanes wide, clearly adding to the woes of someone trying to cross this horrible, dirty, polluted, dangerous, noisy thoroughfare. I do a lot of walking, but avoid crossing Lakeshore at Parliament, Sherbourne, Jarvis, and Spadina if at all possible. Walk some of them and see for yourself. See what it is like to be stranded on an isthmus of concrete called a median while hundreds of vehicles scream by.

    The WT preamble states that the Gardiner and Lakeshore Blvd are barriers to travel between downtown and the waterfront. It seems the point of perception is from the cosy confines of a car. The pedestrian is hardly concerned about the visual ‘barrier’ of the overhead structure, or of the barely audible noise emanating from it when negotiating the hostile environments of Lakeshore Blvd. Steve’s tree lined boulevards will be perceived very differently by someone on foot with horrible traffic racing by. And if the pedestrian is not comfortable and safe, ‘connecting’ downtown and waterfront is a lost cause.

    Steve: That isthmus will be quite wide and will no longer be under the Gardiner. You can be “stranded” in just the same way at Queen and University. They are not, by the way, “my” tree lined boulevards.

    Odd isn’t it that in one city we want rid of an overhead structure and in another it is rejoiced. New York’s High Line, an old elevated railway line running south from 34th street, has been made into a linear park, the subject of many press articles of late. Can we do the same, in reverse sort of? What if we were to accept that the elevated should stay, and instead of the park in New York’s case, we put all the traffic up there, and make the park below. Lakeshore Blvd then is elevated! No roadway below, instead a bike path, walking routes, parkettes, pedestrian mall, event spaces, possibly transit. Very efficient use of space and excellent for pedestrians. Dress up the insides of the railway tunnels and the waterfront is ‘connected’. Of course, like most of the options, traffic capacity is reduced.

    Steve: To put all of the traffic up in the air would require new ramps with higher capacity (and more space) than now exists. You would also lose the local function of Lake Shore which is important for future development of lands to the south.

    The High Line, which I walked only three weeks ago during a balmy weekend in NYC, does not run down the middle of a street, but between buildings to which it formerly provided freight access. It is only two tracks wide, not the six lanes plus ramps of the Gardiner East. And it is most emphatically a pedestrian structure in an area with strong pedestrian traffic on the streets below. The former West Side Highway, now reduced to a grade level street, is further west and has nothing to do with the High Line. You are making an apples:oranges comparison.

    Waterfront Toronto’s track record of managing and scheduling construction is poor to say the least, witness the ‘construction that never ends’ at Harbourfront. Construction contracts need better scheduling and consequences for failure. Construction times matter, and affect choices. Would Harborfront have been started if we knew it would take 3 years and a god awful mess. And no excuses, the performance there was seriously deficient.

    The presented documents frequently refer to the importance of transit, but make no mention of it actually operating BEFORE work (all options except Maintain) starts on the Gardiner. Thus I suggest the EA specify that:

    • The relief line be operating,
    • GO transit upgrade to 30 minutes on 7 routes complete and operating,
    • Waterfront East LRT to Cherry and Broadview complete and operating,

    Before construction commences, a minimum of 10 years; but to start work before transit is in place invites another boondoggle.

    Steve: I repeat what I have said before. The new transit is to address the need for more capacity to serve the core and the developing eastern waterfront. It is not, repeat, not intended as a replacement for whatever capacity is lost to the new Gardiner configuration.

    I agree that Queens Quay has been a mess, but that is not all of Waterfront Toronto’s making. Hydro really screwed them up with a very late start, and a lot of work has been done to reschedule around them. In some locations the water table has been higher (or harder to drain) than anticipated for some underground work. Finally, winter conditions have been much harsher than in recent years and work that was expected to be complete by now has been badly delayed. This information has been quite clearly explained in the weekly construction bulletins available on their site.

    Much of the utility work is now complete on the south side of Queens Quay, and the traffic lanes are being shifted to that side of the road. This will allow construction of the streetcar corridor in the centre lanes and the new final roadway on the north side once other work in that area is out of the way.

  25. David Magda says:

    Marcus Gee of the G&M disagrees with taking it down (at least right now):

    Those just happen to be the very two things the expressway was built for – to move cars with people in them and trucks with freight in them across the bottom of the city. Saying that removal of the Gardiner is the best option if it were not for the traffic-moving thing is like saying using a baseball bat is the best way to play hockey except for the puck-moving thing.The Gardiner may be a costly old eyesore, but it is a key part of Toronto’s transportation network. Combined with the Don Valley Parkway to the east, the 427 to the west and the 401 to the north, it completes the circle of highways that encloses the central city, allowing motorists to travel from top to bottom and side to side without negotiating city streets. In a haphazard Toronto sort of way, these four arteries constitute the equivalent of the ring roads that encircle many modern cities

    Not unreasonable point. He’s not against getting rid of it, but argues that there needs to be adequate infrastructure in place for moving people before it happens.

  26. MarkE says:

    Steve:

    I repeat what I have said before. The new transit is to address the need for more capacity to serve the core and the developing eastern waterfront. It is not, repeat, not intended as a replacement for whatever capacity is lost to the new Gardiner configuration.

    I do not understand this. What happens to the thousands of auto commuters squeezed out by halving capacity? Should not the Gardiner EA be required to address this, to model it, and inform us, beyond baseless charts that show longer commute times. You have often written about what is now the world wide mantra of TRANSIT FIRST, transit before development. Since both the improved 30 minute all day GO service and the relief line will play a role in providing alternates to those displaced drivers, I believe it should be completed before any work starts on the Gardiner. The relief line will also serve local needs, and the QQ LRT/Streetcar service to Broadview and Cherry will be a local service, which should also be complete and operating BEFORE development. To do otherwise is to invite more St. Clairs and Harbourfront horrors.

    Steve: The point I was making is that the DRL and other new lines are not intended as a replacement for the Gardiner. The traffic it now carries will go partly on the new road, partly elsewhere, but the new transit will serve different demand patterns and a much greater number of riders. In particular, the waterfront east LRT addresses completely new demand, not trips that are now on the expressway.

  27. Jim Hoffman says:

    Are they saying it will take ten minutes longer to get from the foot of the DVP to Jarvis? That sounds like a lot.

    Steve: Those trip times are suspect on a few counts. First off, there is an increase shown even for trips from southern Etobicoke to Union which should not even be affected by whatever happens east of Jarvis. Second, trips from the Beach go up by only 5 minutes, as opposed to 10 minutes for trips coming down the DVP. This implies that part of the increase lies on the DVP and begs the question “why”.

  28. hamish wilson says:

    I admit that it’s a lot lot easier to be prescriptive about things and a gashouse green from the position I have being in the bikeable/transit-good downtown core. But there is a lot of entitlement and “car-avy” in play here; and heck, where are the transit options?

    Why do we absolutely need to replace relatively minor capacity (compared with transit) at great expense when we are not doing enough for providing transit first?

    I do regret that nobody on these last Councils (nor the Waterfront Toronto) really took forward a Front St. transitway instead of the Front St. Extension porkway. While it may be largely built over and impaired now, we have had a need to provide better transit ahead of really squeezing cars, including a full lane removal on Richmond St. for a bike lane as may occur soon (though City goofed with tree installation there @401 as it should have been half-lane bike lane/half-lane sidewalk).

    THe EAs are also grossly inadequate as there should be a full looking at all the many issues and possiblities for improved transit first, though at least with this, there’s a hint that we may actually include greenhouse gas emissions, and perhaps even the embodied energy/resource of the existing. This is a big thing with the existing big structure of the Gardiner as there is still a century of life in some of it I’m sure. So why can’t we dream of transit, and including a busway or three, and converting the hulk of the Gardiner to greenhouses and housing, and a bikeway/busway? There is a real need to be “roadical” – and realize that between climate and peak oil, catering so fully to the private car shouldn’t be easting that half-billion or billion.

    The real barrier to the waterfront is the traffic, not the roadway. And where is that tiny bit of user pay for the limited access road now anyways? Come on guys, let’s start the tolling!!

  29. Andrew says:

    Pedestrian friendly development along this stretch is never possible regardless of the configuration. With the rail corridor blocking one side and a much more attractive view to the south available, this stretch will never develop. Best it will develop as loading docks and rear parking entrances. Witness over 10 years with the Leslie section removed. Has anything changed here? The addition of the Esso station?

    Second point. This debate is always tainted with the idea that driving downtown is some kind of ethical issue. It’s not. If anyone did a detailed study I’m sure they would find that drivers on one day are transit riders on 4 other days. There’s a million reasons that a dedicated transit rider needs to take the car on some days. “Punishing” them with an addition 20 minutes of delay makes no sense. The growth that being experienced by downtown is not a guarantee, at some point there will be viable urban areas in other parts of the GTA. Those where access is being maintained and improved.

    Leave the Gardiner, we’re using it.

    Steve: In fact, with the removal of the Gardiner, there is a wide block of land south of the rail corridor that would be used for new buildings (with that south view) on the north side of the new surface-level roadway.

    As for those poor drivers, they will be facing more delays out in their origin areas in the suburbs than on the roads downtown. Cars are a small minority of trips into the core, and the proportion will get even smaller.

    “Viable urban areas” elsewhere in the GTA, maybe, but all signs point to continued and accelerating growth in central Toronto. That’s what the new transit services proposed for downtown will support, just as GO looked after much of the growth of past decades. Access “maintained and improved” elsewhere? Hmmm. If so, why is congestion such an issue in the 905?

  30. Ross Trusler says:

    Steve said (Joshua)

    Your stated time for the trip by rail is well above the time shown for a Union to Markham trip on the timetable. Either GO’s reported on time performance is suspect, or some other factor adds to the length of your rail journey. By the time the Gardiner changes are implemented, improvements to the corridor will have made for more frequent and slightly faster service, while congestion on the DVP (which is worst north of Eglinton for inbound trips) will be much worse than it is today.

    I can tell you that GO schedules southbound bus trips from Aurora GO to Union for 35 to 60 minutes depending upon time of day, and train trips for 54. Actual bus trips are usually 38-45 minutes, and actual train trips are always more than 54, usually just over 60.

    Unfortunately, rail trips are not going to get faster in our lifetime. Every ounce of efficiency wrung out of Union approaches will get soaked up by added stations and other drags. That Aurora (now Barrie) train is already scheduled 10 minutes longer than it was when service was initiated.

    The longer bus trips could be shortened to the run’s shorter times if the DVP had an HOV or bus lane.

    Steve said in another response that relieving the DVP is not the primary purpose of the DRL. True, but it will be *a* purpose, and an important one if well executed. Presumably the DVP and Gardiner are not getting any bigger (or ridiculously, the latter get its capacity chopped nearly in half!). Yet the demand on the 404/DVP corridor will continue to grow, and since it can’t get all the way down the DVP, travellers will increasingly either have to jump on the DRL or drivers will have to take the bus down the DVP.

    The further south the DRL ends, the further south we’ll need some transit priority on the DVP. In part, I’d like to see the DRL get north of the 401 in so that that mode transfer is north of the 401. While Don Mills Station is not popular for today’s driver (and GO bus rider), the DRL from Sheppard should offer a faster ride than the Yonge/Shepard route and be faster than the DVP, unlike today.

    Now, IF we had a bus lane all the way down to Union, that transfer to the DRL would have less demand. Some bus riders would want to switch to the DRL for the intermediate stops, while others (like today’s riders) would like the express ride to Union.

    As for political feasibility of transit priority on City-owned freeways, I think that it is likely at some point in the 100-year time frame of this Gardiner discussion. I also think tolling is pretty inevitable, and a congestion charge a distinct possibility. It may be a way off still, but it will happen, absent some unlikely or unexpected tech advances. All this will drive an increase in GO buses.

  31. Ross Trusler says:

    John Duncan said:

    Looking at the numbers, the obvious question is why are we only talking about taking it down from Jarvis?

    The lion’s share of Gardiner users are going to York-Bay-Yonge. If a ground-level road has capacity enough to serve westbound AM traffic from the DVP to Jarvis, it also has enough capacity to serve that traffic out to Yonge Street at least.

    A 4-lane at-grade artery does not have the capacity to carry the current traffic on the Gardiner, even excluding Lakeshore traffic.

  32. Sid says:

    Steve: Those trip times are suspect on a few counts. First off, there is an increase shown even for trips from southern Etobicoke to Union which should not even be affected by whatever happens east of Jarvis. Second, trips from the Beach go up by only 5 minutes, as opposed to 10 minutes for trips coming down the DVP. This implies that part of the increase lies on the DVP and begs the question “why”.

    They might be assuming that traffic from the DVP would be metered, similar to what the DTOS suggested for Richmond.

  33. John Duncan said:

    The lion’s share of Gardiner users are going to York-Bay-Yonge.

    It should be mentioned that the York-Bay-Yonge off-ramp will not be there forever, (there is a proposal to replace it with an off-ramp at Simcoe with connections to York, Bay, and Yonge) and this will certainly have an impact on traffic projections for eastbound traffic east of Spadina.

    Better access from the west means less congestion at the Spadina off-ramp and fewer eastbound vehicles using the Gardiner to get to Jarvis.

    Essentially the proposed changes to York-Bay-Yonge change the whole dynamic of this discussion.

    Cheers, Moaz

  34. Ross Trusler said:

    Now, IF we had a bus lane all the way down to Union, that transfer to the DRL would have less demand. Some bus riders would want to switch to the DRL for the intermediate stops, while others (like today’s riders) would like the express ride to Union.

    As for political feasibility of transit priority on City-owned freeways, I think that it is likely at some point in the 100-year time frame of this Gardiner discussion. I also think tolling is pretty inevitable, and a congestion charge a distinct possibility. It may be a way off still, but it will happen, absent some unlikely or unexpected tech advances. All this will drive an increase in GO buses.

    From the limited presentation it appears that Maintenance and Improvement are the preferred options. It seems blindingly clear that if the replacement of York-Bay-Yonge with Simcoe Ramp is factored in, then an all-day bus lane* should be part of the solution.

    So while I prefer removing the Gardiner I would not be disappointed if the Gardiner were kept in place for now if a bus lane was included in the picture.

    *a bus lane on the median shoulder of the DVP is currently limited by the physical constraints at the railway overpass north of Wynford and the narrowing south of the Don Mills interchange.

    Cheers, Moaz

  35. Robert Wightman says:

    “ROAD CAPACITIES” by John van Rijn of INDEVELOPMENT gives the stable lane capacity at 1550 vph at 88 km/h and a maximum capacity of 2000 vph at 50 km/h. It says that merging and exiting lanes will reduce this capacity. The value of 5600 eastbound at Dufferin is near the limit for stable capacity and any disturbance will rapidly create problems. The westbound peak is 4500 vph which is within the more stable range.

    The cost involved to keep 3% of the trips into the downtown happy seem to be out of line with the benefit received. For those who say that there will be chaos look at what happens every summer when they close the Gardner down to 2 lanes in each direction for maintenance. Drivers adapt quickly as contrary to the belief of some they are not stupid. Get rid of the eastern section of it, please.

    Steve: Also, considering that various parts of the Gardiner will be running at below capacity for the next 6 years no matter what option is chosen, any traffic redistribution effects will be well-entrenched by 2020.

  36. Jeff says:

    I realize this is probably a far-fetched idea. Has anyone ever studied moving the Gardiner so that it’s on top of the rail corridor East of Jarvis? I would keep the highway for connectivity, and also allow for development & revitalization of Lake Shore Blvd.

    Steve: Yes, this was examined. The problem is that there is no room for the footings needed for the elevated highway structure let alone the more complex ramps needed to get to and from a relocated Gardiner to intersecting streets.

  37. Jon Johnson says:

    Your discussion would be well served by including a section on the 1987 project “Ataratiri” and its consequences. One should note how nicely the expropriated lands acquired as a result of the failed project conveniently align with the section of the Gardiner that the city now wants to tear down.

    The biggest problem with current policy is that it does not properly account for the cost of an individual’s time. The current $13.52/hour value that Metrolinx uses is not appropriate and it is nowhere near an accurate value that even remotely reflects the true cost of time that would be appropriate for those who use the Gardiner. There is an old axiom regarding behavior modification policy and that is, “you get what you measure”. That is to say certain results will occur simply because of the way you account for them.

    Since the users of the Gardiner have in reality a high value on their time it would be more appropriate to Toll the Gardiner and use the proceeds to both maintain the structure and support the surrounding community. The Gardiner is fundamentally an underutilized asset, whose value can be maximized though good policy.

  38. Jon Johnson says:

    Ross Trusler says:

    “I also think tolling is pretty inevitable, and a congestion charge a distinct possibility… All this will drive an increase in GO buses.”

    I think you are spot on with your comment. A toll on the Gardiner would integrate well with many proposals outlined in the Don Valley Corridor Study. It’s very cost effective, flexible, and it integrates very well with York Region’s bus network and other bus transit east of Don Mills. If the toll is coupled with the necessary appropriate increase in bus transport the negative political consequences of a toll will likely be blunted to an acceptable level.

    Steve: Considering that the Gardiner takedown’s inconvenience of a relatively small proportion of the commuters has already brought such outrage, I hate to think what an “acceptable level” of opposition to tolls will sound like.

  39. MarkE says:

    On Monday morning I counted vehicles eastbound on the Gardiner at Sherbourne. Two counts of two minutes at 8.25am and 8.30am (Monday Feb 10, sunny weather, traffic free flowing). Average of the two counts was a rate of 3031 vehicles per hour. The ‘Eastbound AM’ diagram at the beginning of the presentation, showed 1200vph, not include traffic entering eastbound from downtown. Is the difference, 1800vph, originating downtown? There was very little traffic getting on at Jarvis, so that would make the two downtown eastbound on ramps quite busy! In any event, the subject section of the Gardner is anything but little used in the AM peak!.

  40. Glen says:

    Saying that employment growth is strong based on the Flash Forward report is foolish.

    According to that same report, in 2011, employment within Toronto was 1,615,617. The reality was 300,000 less than that.

    Steve: What was the distribution of the 300k delta across the city? Failure to achieve expected growth in burbs has different effect than downtown on transportation demand.

  41. Rishi L (@CdnEnginerd) says:

    I live at the Jones & Gerrard area and drive to Milton for work. I use the Gardiner East EVERYDAY during AM & PM rush hour. In addition to this, my commute has been affected daily over the last 6 months due to the Gardiner East lane closures for repairs and the Leslie Street barns, so capacity has been constrained quite a bit more than what the REMOVE option is going to inflict on us, and it was fine.

    So, even as a driver, I favour REMOVE. My comments below are anecdotal but should serve as a nice parallel to the data flying around

    In the AM, westbound traffic through that stretch only slows down around the York ramp, and having done this everyday for the last 2 years, it only gets snarled up earlier if there is an accident. The York to Dufferin stretch is always congested, and if you are planning to drive 730-830, prepare for about 40 mins for the Jarvis to 427 stretch. I have never seen the eastbound lanes beyond Yonge be busy, unless there is an accident.

    In the PM eastbound, even when there was only 2 lanes, the stretch east of Jarvis was a bit stop and go, but it added minutes, and there were alternatives to get to Lakeshore/Eastern/Queen/Kingston Rd. We are talking about having 4 lanes.

    In the PM westbound, I do see that it’s much more congested than one would expect coming around the DVP horn and onto the deck, but this is usually due to problems farther ahead on the Spadina to 427 stretch.

    In terms of the effect on the Lakeshore itself, it’s between 2 and 3 lanes from Woodbine over to the deck, and even in the thick of rush hour, you aren’t waiting more than 2-3 light cycles to get through in the AM. Right now it’s much worse with the barns construction so it’s further constrained. In the PM, the light cycle timing is done quite well (and they improved the left turns recently) so you get through quickly. I like the idea of the traffic signals “gating” congestion which has downstream impacts similar to having a variable speed limit on a road to avoid stop & go.

    So, we seem to have done just fine with only a 2 lane Gardiner East section and reduced Lakeshore capacity. We are talking about 4 lanes in each direction and if there are only traffic lights at major intersections, I see this as a huge positive.

  42. Glen says:

    Steve:

    What was the distribution of the 300k delta across the city? Failure to achieve expected growth in burbs has different effect than downtown on transportation demand.

    The more pertinent question would be if the projections are so far off, why should we rely on them to shape our decisions? While it would be a safe bet to assume that areas outside of downtown have fared worse that the core, it would also be a safe bet to assume that employment levels downtown are lower than projected. Furthermore it is going forward that we should worry about. The core is far to reliant on the F.I.R.E. sectors, in large part fueled by our housing bubble. If it does not continue, or crashes, what would the implications for downtown employment be?

    Steve: And if the growth in downtown is less than projected, this will also affect future demand projections for roads, not just for the transit system.

  43. Nathanael says:

    “(don’t forget that Queens Quay will go straight cross what is now Parliament Slip and Cherry will be realigned to the west).”

    That is indeed what I forgot. Do you have a reference to a website for these plans? Filling in waterways is serious work!

    Steve: You can see a great deal of the redesign planned not just for Parliament Slip but other streets in the Lower Don and Portlands in the Keating Channel Precinct plan. Follow the links to various presentations, notably the July 24, 2013 public meeting.

  44. Amit Deshwar says:

    On the topic of lane reversals, Calgary implements them on Memorial Drive, a boulevard with a somewhat wide median without the use of such expensive machinery.

    See this page for more information.

    I do think that lane reversals are somewhat unfriendly for pedestrians but might be a compromise to get pro-car people onside with the “Remove” option.

    Steve: The problem with lane reversals is that they don’t work with the wide median planned for the surface road.

  45. Malcolm N says:

    Steve said:

    “And if the growth in downtown is less than projected, this will also affect future demand projections for roads, not just for the transit system.”

    I suspect that our current rate of build, in terms of transit, and our ability to build in terms of road, we had better hope that the projections are too high for the right reasons. If the industries as a whole that feed downtown and Toronto have slowed down, then that buys time, if however, they are off because they are relocating, that presents issues that need to be addressed, especially if one of the drivers is commuting time. Since Finance, and Insurance on a world scale have slowed I would think this is the prime cause, and they should resume moderate growth again.

Comments are closed.