A Long Day At City Hall

Tuesday, June 2 was a long day for members of Toronto Council’s Executive Committee.  Many transportation issues were on the agenda including Union Station Revitalization, Western Waterfront Master Plan, Queen’s Quay redesign, and the Gardiner Expressway replacement EA.

As if that wasn’t enough, an open house for the Scarborough RT extension took me out for a ride on the Milner bus.

This transit blogging is harder than my pre-retirement work!

Union Station Revitalization

As I reported last weekend, a report will be going to Council in July seeking approval for the revitalization project.  At the Executive Committee, staff and engineering consultants presented an overview of the project as it now exists.

The presentation material is not yet available on the City’s website, and if it doesn’t show up by the end of the week, I will scan selected pages.

At this point, the major outstanding matters are:

  • finalization of funding from Ottawa and Queen’s Park, expected to be concluded over the summer;
  • Council approval of the Head Lessee agreement for commercial space in the station;
  • completion of detailed design and construction planning.

I will report further on this once the presentation materials are online, one way or another.

Western Waterfront Master Plan

The report was adopted by the Executive Committee and will go to Council in July.  Members of the public who spoke at the meeting praised the design and sought only minor changes.  These will be addressed in a supplementary report to Council.

As I reported, there is now a conflict between the preferred design for the waterfront overall, and the TTC’s design for the Waterfront West LRT.  It is unclear at this point how that conflict will be resolved.

Queen’s Quay Revitalization

In a previous post, I detailed the scheme for the redesign of Queen’s Quay from Bathurst to Parliament.  The report before Executive includes further details:

Some of the detailed design issues remain to be worked out as several speakers noted:

  • Bus traffic patterns at the Radisson Hotel at the foot of Rees Street.  The existing exit via Robertson Crescent is to be closed.  This is a TTC requirement due to signalling problems with the nearby Rees Street intersection, but the scheme is opposed by the hotel, and by others who are concerned about the alternative design of a bus loop built over the water’s edge south of the hotel.  The hotel also objects to the loss of a west to south left turn at Rees for traffic approaching their site from the east.  The location is constrained by the position of buildings making lane rearrangements from the proposed scheme difficult even though there is vacant space (a parking lot) on the northwest corner.
  • Cycling lane arrangement westbound at Spadina.  Just west of Spadina, the Martin Goodman trail reverts to standard bike lanes, and cyclists need to cross from the south to the north side of Queen’s Quay.  This crossing is mixed in with other traffic movements at Spadina and Queen’s Quay in a way that defies understanding, and will almost certainly require yet another dedicated traffic signal phase, the last thing we need here.  The original design shown at the Waterfront Toronto open houses had an odd transition where the Martin Goodman Trail abruptly vanished at Yo-Yo Ma Lane, but the design linked above has been modified to show only eastbound bike traffic on the south side of Queen’s Quay west of Spadina.  There was a lot of shilly-shallying by staff about whether they intended to redesign the street all the way to Bathurst, but the reports clearly state that the study area is from Bathurst, not from Spadina eastwards.
  • Access to condo development lands and Redpath Sugar site east of Yonge Street.  Both of the affected properties lie east of Yonge and south of the transit right-of-way.  The condo developer would like to see an underground “Yonge Station” replace the proposed stop at Freeland Street as this would simplify access to their property.  Of course, an underground station is a costly item, and it would be much less accessible than a surface stop.  Redpath Sugar is concerned that vehicle access to and from their property will be constrained and that they would not be able to get trucks in and out on a timely basis.  Like the Radisson site further west, both properties raise the question of how frequently there can be openings in the transit “right of way” for cross-traffic.

A supplementary report on these issues will come to Council in July when this matter is up for approval.

Among the public speakers to this issue, there was widespread praise for the way that the consultation and design work has been handled by Waterfront Toronto and related groups.  I can say from my own participation in parts of this that other organizations in the GTA (the guilty parties know who they are) could learn a lot about meaningful public participation.  Although the process took longer than expected and the level of design was far more detailed than we normally see in an EA, the result was that many issues were resolved, or at least identified for detailed review, as part of the EA rather than being left to fester and undermine the project’s credibility.

Gardiner Expressway

Predictably, this item attracted the most attention on the agenda and we can expect another skirmish in the “war on the car” debates when it reaches Council in July.

The staff report and Draft EA set out the plan for an extensive review of the proposed takedown of the Gardiner from Jarvis Street east to the Don River, a study that will take the next two years to complete.  Four options will be considered:

  • “Do nothing”.  This is the standard base case for any EA.  In fact “nothing” does not quite describe the impact as there will be substantial repair costs to the existing structure associated with leaving it in place.
  • “Improve”.  This would involve retention of the existing structure, but with possible changes to improve the environment under it (Lake Shore Blvd.), beautify the structure and possibly reconfigure access ramps to remove barriers at ground level.
  • “Replace”.  A new expressway would be constructed underground, at grade or elevated, not necessarily in its current location (e.g. it could be moved to the rail corridor).
  • “Remove”.  The functions of the expressway and Lake Shore Blvd. would be consolidated into one at-grade road.

Both Waterfront Toronto and Mayor Miller have publicly endorsed the “remove” option, but a full study is required to determine whether this is feasible and what the effects will be.  There is something of a Catch-22 in some of the opposition to this study saying “not now” or “we fear chaos will ensue”.  Well, if there is no study, we won’t know when the time will be right or whether it is even workable to divert traffic onto an at-grade street.  Regardless of whether the right or left wing is in power by the time the EA is completed and a decision must be taken on the Gardiner’s future, we need the background information to make an informed decision.

A fundamental issue here is that the Gardiner east of downtown was designed to feed both the DVP and the Scarborough Expressway.  The Gardiner is much wider than required just for traffic to and from the DVP, and the amount of land sterilized by the expressway structure is large.  For future development, the location of the structure and/or road must be known so that planning for adjacent property, and indeed the value of that property, will be clear.

The study will look not only at the Gardiner, but at the road systems of the city as a whole.  For example, the Richmond/Adelaide ramp system’s function will change if the DVP feeds into a University Avenue style street in place of the Gardiner/Lake Shore.  Other parts of the road network might also be affected, although further away from downtown, the marginal impact of trips bound for the core is smaller in the total traffic flow.

As I mentioned at the outset, after spending much of the day at the Executive Committee, I headed off to Scarborough for the RT Extension Open House.  I will comment on that in a separate post.

29 thoughts on “A Long Day At City Hall

  1. Theoretically speaking, if money was not an issue at all, which option for the Gardiner would you choose?

    I for one think it is a landmark made for the city and has historical significance now so I’d rather beautify it and uphold/repair it at $10mil/yr […]. You could then divert Queens Quay traffic onto the Lakeshore thus beautifying QQ and placing the grade-separated LRT there. The Gardiner is meant to link the QEW to the DVP (which flows traffic up to the 401). It is an essential link no matter how people put it and unless you decide to tunnel it (I don’t think it is as safe an idea considering its length) then you’ve got to keep it above ground.

    If they try a University Avenue style boulevard, then I suggest it to be 4-lanes on each side (or 5) thus a total of 8-10 lanes and they use the centre 2 lanes on each side (or 3) to trench under the streets that would require intersections. It would require more money than a boulevard but less money than a tunnel, and would allow through-traffic to flow quickly enough without the nuissance of red-lights (and by trenching it, looking out a condo window up by the Esplanade or Front would not look ugly).

    Steve: The “…” above replaced an intemperate reference to the Mayor and his alleged ability to spend lots of money. I have no problems with criticism of City policy as I do a lot of this myself, but please address the policy rather than pretending that an attack on the Mayor is a valid substitute for meaningful comment.

    With respect to the alternative described above, the “Great Street” proposed by Waterfront Toronto is a boulevard, but without the tunnels suggested here.

    As for which option would I choose, well, on the presumption that the traffic studies verify that the surface-level street can actually handle the demand, that’s the version I would like to see. Do nothing isn’t an option because the structure is falling down, and so the realistic alternatives have to be one of the rebuild scenarios. Of great importance here is that any new structure (regardless of where it is) does not have to be as big as the existing one because there is no Scarborough Expressway to feed. This section is a continuation of two lanes each way at the bottom of the DVP.


  2. All I can say is I cant wait for Mayor Miller to get out of office. This seems like its the only way the Gardiner wont be teared down. It seems like with the new City of Toronto act, he gets everything that he wants. I think Torontonians (not just me) are getting fed up with his rediculous proposals. Before we know it he will be proposing a bike path on the DVP or along the rail corridor. And may I ask why the Toronto Viaduct isnt being proposed?

    Steve: The Toronto Viaduct is intended to get traffic around downtown, not to downtown.

    As for getting Mayor Miller out of office, you may have read a current poll that shows the electorate are quite happy with how things are working at City Hall these days. I will take David Miller’s “everything he wants” over Mel Lastman and his cronies’ version any day. It’s strange how, now that the left of centre is in power, the right, who used to treat the city as their own personal property, are so very annoyed at what is happening.

    Of the traffic into downtown, only 8% gets there via the Gardiner. At the very least, we need a detailed study to validate whether it is reasonable to take down the stretch from Jarvis to the Don. If you assume the study is going to be cooked from day one, I could easily reply that any counter-study is equally a fabrication intended to support a specific outcome. At least get the facts out on the table where we can discuss them. If there is a case to be made for keeping or renewing the Gardiner, then let’s get tha data to support that position.


  3. I was reading the iTRANS report on a Queen’s Quay-Yonge underground LRT, and I am intrigued by their argument. I think a cost-benefit analysis here is worthwhile. We all know that underground stations are expensive, but although sewer relocations aren’t AS expensive, they’re not cheap either. An underground Yonge station at Queen’s Quay would change the portal to a location that would not interfere with the existing sewer, and the station can be situated to not interfere with such as well. The extended underground run with a Yonge station better reflects the City’s goals, too. There are plans to narrow the southern end of Yonge, south of Harbour St. While an extremely small stretch of road, Queen’s Quay will be offering similar road capacity, meaning there’s a clear-push for a transit-oriented environment. I think that the point about the significance of this intersection could potentially hold true. If they do boost land values to the extent that iTRANS claims, offsetting the increase of a station minus a sewer relocation, I think it could be to the City’s financial advantage in the long-run. While this is a bad argument for subways, as history has shown us, we’re looking at 200m, not 5+km. Let’s evaluate this, it will, after all, be permanent.

    Steve: The comparative evaluation of the options rejects the “Q3” option with an underground station at Yonge on the basis of cost, and this is an all-in calculation, not simply the extra cost of the station itself. The comparison also notes that the Q3 portal would block the main entrance to Redpath Sugar, and so the problems at that location would actually be made worse. This is a case of fixing one property owner’s problems at the expense of another’s.


  4. This transit blogging may be harder for you than when you were working but I’m sure it’s still more interesting. On the subject of what should be done with the Gardiner, should they decide to go with the underground option, it just might make sense to put a boulevard on top of it, Chicago’s Wacker Drive-style.


  5. I wonder what kind of economic slowdown Toronto will face with the Gardiner out of commission while whatever is to happen happens.

    Steve: It’s important to remember that “whatever happens” affects only the portion of the Gardiner east of Jarvis. The lion’s share of traffic comes from the west. Impacts during construction of the various alternatives should be an important part of the EA review.


  6. I wild thought, but here it goes: Boston buried it’s expressway to open up the docklands. Yes, it would cost a fortune, but if traffic is REALLY as heavy as Gardiner proponents say it is, would it not be worth burying the expressway?

    That being said, I prefer the option of getting rid. I also prefer people to take public transit far more than they do. I also believe in Santa Claus, who will bring a Swan system to solve all our problems.

    Steve: The problem with burying it, aside from the cost, is that we’re still stuck with the ramps to local streets.


  7. Although the thought of taking the gardiner down is amazing, I question how everyone thinks this is going to open up Toronto to the waterfront?!? “Tear it down, look south, go ahhh that’s better!” “look north- oh the rail berm” if you going to spend the money to have gardiner taken down and put at grade or ideally below grade in tunnels- forget not the train tracks, at least tunnel the rail corridor-how great is the trip into Montreal downtown? truly have Toronto flow south. Steve is this impossible? Think of the land values as a result!?!

    Steve: I think that people who talk about the project as if somehow, magically, there will be a view to the lake from somewhere around Queen Street are really giving the wrong message. The big impact is the amount of open space that is freed up between Jarvis and the Don south of the rail corridor. A lot of that underused land down there becomes more valuable and we can have a real sense of space in the eastern waterfront. To really appreciate the problem of the Gardiner, you have to walk around under it just to see how massive it is. Considering that it is twice as big as it needs to be to handle the traffic from the DVP, that’s a huge amount of wasted space (and concrete).


  8. To uphold/repair the Gardiner at $10mil/yr (and counting, these costs will only go up w/ inflation) is throwing precious good money after bad.

    At some point all of the Gardiner will have to be replaced, as the concrete is crumbling from the pounding, temperature swings on the metal rods, & corrosion from road salt.

    Why are we propping up this monument to waste, pollution, and ugliness at the cost of badly needed millions that could be used for environmentally friendly transit?

    Cue Hamish…


  9. Wouldn’t an expressway-style arterial road impede access to the waterfront more than an elevated expressway? The elevated is ugly to walk under – but it could be beautified – I’m thinking of a pedestrian undercrossing of a freeway in Oakland, CA that has a beautiful colored light show – but crossing a 10 lane street is hardly pedestrian friendly. Consider Lakeshore Dr in downtown Chicago, the non-freeway portion. And it’s true only 2 lanes go to the DVP but 1 lane on the Gardiner goes off to Lakeshore Blvd E and areas out there. And any loss of capacity on the Gardiner east of Jarvis will only increase congestion on Richmond / Adelaide, further endangering bicyclists and pedestrians. We should be diverting as much car traffic as possible to the Gardiner to free up our surface streets.

    Steve: I have covered some of this before, but in brief, the east end of the Gardiner is wider than it needs to be to handle traffic from the DVP. The real question is what combined capacity is needed to handle the existing Lake Shore and Gardiner load.

    I was out at Markham Road and Milner the other night at an SRT project open house, and that intersection is eight lanes wide including turn lanes on Markham Road. The biggest problem is that Markham doesn’t have a median, and so that’s one big space. Part of the issue for the new street will be to make it as pedestrian friendly and visually attractive a space as possible.


  10. Regarding the Gardiner – here we go again. Lots of talk, and no action for years to come I’m sure. I hate to bring it up again, but I was in Madrid in May and not only do they have an impressively extensive subway and suburban rail system, most of the main highways leading into the city go underground through the city-centre. One tunnel I travelled through was about 4km long and connected to three other highways – all of it underground! Incredible. And we have such a hard time tearing down one small section of an underused portion of the Gardiner?

    Steve: People like to point to Madrid as an example of a city that just gets things done. Well, aside from the massive funding infusion from the Spanish and EU governments, Madird had a Mayor who ran on a platform of implementing massive changes in the transportation infrastructure. He was elected. He built it. No years of Terms of Reference and EAs, that’s what the election was for.

    In Toronto, we have a Mayor who was elected on a platform of making transit an important part of the overall network, but if he tried to proceed in the same manner as the Mayor of Madrid, the right wing, the press, not to mention legions of those leaving comments on blogs all over town, would rail on ad nauseum about how he was abusing his authority.

    People seem to want it both ways. They want a mayor who will take bold steps, but preferably bold steps in the direction they support. Anything else is an unpardonable blot on the political landscape.


  11. Replacing the Gardiner is needed, but why don’t they convert Lake Shore to a freeway allowing the cars to flow out of the city. They can also have LRT in the median.

    If the Harbourfront area is still very congested, they can plan for an underground freeway with a toll system in place.

    Steve: Lake Shore is not a suitable street as an escape route from the city, especially to the east, as it turns into Kingston Road which is a local neighbourhood street. I have already commented on undergrounding.


  12. Why not bury the Gardiner and add tolls to pay it off? That way we could still get our QEW/427 to DVP link while avoiding the need to deploy significant public capital to maintain that link.

    As an added bonus the tolls would act as a kind of very rough congestion charge, perhaps helping to promote transit use a little.

    Steve: I am somewhat amused by comments in this thread that would address the Gardiner problem by imposing tolls, a political hot potato probably even more dangerous than the Gardiner itself.


  13. As David Miller correctly pointed out, Seoul in Korea took down a major double-decker elevated expressway and replaced it with nothing. The world did not end. People used alternatives to cars. And the major was elected president of Korea.

    I advocate exactly the same treatment in Toronto. Take down the Gardiner. Replace it with nothing. The world will not end. People will use GO, TTC and cycling alternatives.


  14. People will use alternatives, assuming the alternatives have the capacity. We know that Yonge is overcapacity today, and Bloor-Danforth is very close to reaching capacity today. If alternatives to the Gardiner from the DVP or Beaches are to be used, alternatives need more capacity to absorb those users. The eastern leg of the DRL would provide that (as would solutions to problems with the 501/502/503).


  15. Kevin Love wrote above:

    “…I advocate exactly the same treatment in Toronto. Take down the Gardiner. Replace it with nothing. The world will not end. People will use GO, TTC and cycling alternatives.”

    Some people will. That highway serves as more than just a commuter route though. It’s handy for emergency services heading into the downtown to one of the hospitals. It’s handy for the numerous large vehicles that keep the downtown going. Eliminating those lanes and not replacing them is extreme. Maybe long term the goal could be to gradually reduce the ease of access, sort of doing a squeeze on it over a couple of decades. Going cold turkey here is not going to be beneficial overall. We want to reduce the sprawl outward. There’s a lot of commercial land in the 905 waiting for office buildings. Don’t give them a reason to do that.


  16. I can’t believe were actually debating about this. It’s a no brainer “tear down the Gardiner” Or maybe we should wait for its self to collapse just like what happened 3 years ago in Minneapolis, when the freeway bridge collapse. Another good example is in San Francisco. There double deck freeway was destroyed in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earth Quake. Instead of rebuilding it they created public space and a boulevard.


  17. The way I look at it you cannot have your cake and eat it too. With this in mind. If you leave the Gardiner the way in place the way it is with or without patching it up than people will be happy now, but later they will complain when the road is in disrepair and in such bad shape it cannot be used anymore to the point that people cry for it to be taken down because of how its negatively impacting them. If you take it down now people will cry that it will inconvenience them severely.

    Guys take the pain now and save yourself the hassle later. Parts of the Gardiner are 54 years old and other parts are 33 years old. It’s falling apart and needs to be torn down, if not now then later. I would rather TAKE IT ALL DOWN now and save the hassle later.

    We took down the eastern part of the Gardiner and the world did not end in fact the neighborhood where the eastern part of the Gardiner used to be is much more beautiful and much better now than it was before.

    For all those reasons and more, take the hit, people are smart they will find ways around the Gardiner closure if it is to be torn down, I would rather just get it done now and tear it down before someone get hurts by falling debris or a dangerous road surface.


  18. Moving the gardiner to ground level should work. Even making it just a by-pass. Most of the cars on that route in that area are trying to get from west of Jarvis to the DVP anyway. Removing all the ramps would allow them to do that, and moving the highway down (closer to ground level) would make it more “invisible” (put it beside the rail track) Even if you have to have one or two lights (I suggest none) it could work. Either way this is not a big deal.

    What is a big deal is if the city says “well it worked east of jarvis, lets try west of jarvis!

    Do you have any idea how crazy Queen and King would become through parkdale.

    Steve: There is a big difference between the sections east and west of downtown, and I don’t think anyone is foolish enough to try to extend the argument to the entire expressway. The nature of traffic in Parkdale when the Gardiner is screwed up is well-known.


  19. To add to a few other comments:

    The gardiner cannot be easily buried due to the fact that the soil in the area (all fill) is not suited.

    Tolls, regardless, are possible, but would still lead to traffic backups on Lakeshore, and alternatives like Queen and King (and Steve himself has said that traffic in parkdale is one of the things affecting the Queen car)

    They can replace the Gardiner, but with what? And where? There was an interesting idea to move it to above the rail line a few years back and beautify it, and add LRT lines to that new viaduct. I don’t know how viable it is though.

    The only way to bury the Gardiner, is to move it further north, say to where Richmond and Adelaide are, but the problem there is all those houses and buildings in the way (Tunneling is not easy) In other words there is no easy fix, and pretending there is requires you to fool yourself.


  20. Personally I would be more receptive to taking down the whole thing than the small section proposed assuming there will be no direct replacement. While traffic (or more accurately travel) will shift away from a removed route, and the world will not end, I have doubts as to how well that will work when what we are really doing is keeping the route itself and adding a non grade seperated gap between the two expressways. Yes it’s probably true that the fairly limited through trips can be physically handled well by a surface route, but I suspect that the effect on driver’s mood would be toxic to the pedestrian environment (ie through traffic is going to be very “angry” if it gets slowed down and put through lights trying to get from the Gardiner to the DVP, and this is exactly the sort of situation that creates user conflict).

    Since taking down the whole thing seems to be a non starter I’d say the next best thing would be replacing the section proposed for removal with a two or four lane (total, my guess is one lane plus one full lane width shoulder per direction would be best) grade seperated connection between the Gardiner and DVP. We could remove the entrance from Lakeshore, but mostly the point is that structure’s size is reduced and it gets moved it away from the Keating Channel. Essentially the Gardiner east of Jarvis would become less an extension of the highway proper than an elongated ramp.

    As for burying it, I tend to agree that there’s not much point unless we also bury the rail corridor, and frankly that seems less than worthwhile. What I think the city really needs at this point is an honest discussion of the Gardiner, that includes real numbers for what it’s going to cost to demolish, maintain (essentially rebuild in place from my understanding), shift and bury, along with good renderings of what the options will actually look like. The current study seems to me going along the right lines, but the highway really should be dealt with as a whole. I wonder if it might be best to develop a full funding and EA package for each and put it to referendum (would have to be regional, but it would be interesting to see the results) since no matter what we do a very sizable demographic is going to be furious with the outcome.


  21. There’s an easy way to sidestep the hot potato of tolling: make it a choice between a tolled highway and no highway. Explain to the public that rising maintenance costs mean that the elevated highway has to go. The choice they have is between a tolled tunnel and no highway at all. I think you’d be surprised at what the public thinks.


  22. Frederick Gardiner must be turning over in his grave.

    Steve: Expressways, like Fred Gardiner, are not immortal.


  23. I never cease to be amazed at the reaction to any idea that would supposedly remove some road capacity. The world will end, economic chaos and gridlock will result. We need to take a look at what has happened to these other harbingers of doom that have been implemented.

    Beverley, St. George, Harbord, Lansdowne and Greenwood have all been reduced to two lanes of traffic from four with one parking lane, two bike lanes and left turn lanes and chaos has not resulted. Hamilton and Cambridge have turned some one way streets back into two way and they have survived. Life on those streets is better and business in the local shops has improved.

    I look forward to the upcoming changes on Jarvis. I am going to create a new group, SCRAPS or the Society to Creatively Restore Avenue Road’s Pedestrian Space. Our goal will be to reduce Avenue road by two lanes of traffic and widen the sidewalks so that two people with prams can pass safely. I would put in left turn lanes so that the remaining two lanes in each direction would move faster.

    I have contemplated bike lanes but I would need a tee bar to get we up the hill and run off lanes going down to keep me from killing myself so I will leave that fight up to the real cyclists on the blog. Wait a second. It is a six lane road. Maybe Metrolinx can put an LRT line on to to act as a downtown relief line, Hmm?


  24. Kieth L said: There’s an easy way to sidestep the hot potato of tolling: make it a choice between a tolled highway and no highway. Explain to the public that rising maintenance costs mean that the elevated highway has to go. The choice they have is between a tolled tunnel and no highway at all. I think you’d be surprised at what the public thinks.

    As Steve said many time, the cars will flood the concession and local roads. When I have a group of five we end up driving downtown, but you think a toll on the DVP will make things better? Thanks but no thanks I will just take Kingston Rd. to Eastern and Eastern over to Richmond or Front St. The DVP would become the rich man’s road and the people more hardpressed who refuse to take transit will just flood the local roads. Tolls are nothing but a sure bet to the street from the Mayor’s office. Remember, the public is your boss, you can’t take away. But you can build lots of the good stuff, and get the most bang for your buck with the DVP corridor as a whole, alas GO Transit!

    Steve: The issue with tolls is a bit more subtle. I don’t think the Mayor wants to implement tolls, and he has said so, but the idea is good to hold up as an alternative to proper funding of transit infrastructure. Everybody wants “more”, but nobody wants to pay for it, no matter how the money is extracted.


  25. Why all this talk about the Gardiner? Are you surprised that the RT is going to be extended in an exclusive ROW with new elevated and underground stations? That pretty much means the line is going to stay as ART. Other than the snow problem (which could be eliminated if the TTC ran the line on auto-pilot during the night to keep the tracks clear), there’s no point in converting it to LRT now.

    Steve: Actually, the line manages to ice up during the daytime when it is running “normally”. There are problems with both the power rails and the reaction rail which heat up when trains pass and then ice over before the next train arrives. There is a fundamental problem with the design as Vancouver found last winter.


  26. Whenever there is noise about burying the Gardner, we need to remember that Boston did the same thing, and the cost was considerably more then they bargained for. It also took much longer then they bargained for. We need to remember this, because they also took an elevated highway and buried it.

    The joke in all this is the statement that it opens up the city to the Lake, but for most of the length of the Gardener there are Condo towers and Hotel towers, so I question how that somehow removing a highway that is 10m high, is going to open things up when there is a 200m Condo Tower directly beyond the highway.

    Adding more capacity simply means more cars in the downtown core, which means a demand for more parking in the downtown core, something the core doesn’t really have space for. Personally I think that the best move for the city is to close the portion they want to get rid of, and leave it closed for a year. If traffic deals well with this, then knock that portion down and do not replace it. History has shown where road capacity is reduced most of the traffic simply goes away.

    Steve: The portion of the Gardiner to be taken down is not surrounded by condos, but by vacant lots and underused industrial property. Also, the intention is not to eliminate the capacity and function of the Gardiner, but to consolidate it and Lake Shore into a surface road. Just closing the Gardiner for a year is not the same because the ramps to Lake Shore and that road as configured are not an adequate alternative.


  27. Diamond HOV lanes could solve some problems, so long as they are true HOV lanes (3 or more) and not this 2 people crap.

    As for all these ideas to reduce roadspace, I find it funny that we have a poster above saying “no one reduction will kill the city” and then proposing to reduce some of the busiest streets even further. One lane reduction is not going to kill the city but 100 just might.


  28. All this talk of tolls makes wonder what would happen if Toronto introduced a congestion charge. Not a city-centre scheme like London, UK, but levying a charge of (say) $5 on anyone who crosses the city boundary inbound betwen 7am and 9am. It would be an easy sell to Toronto residents, as they wouldn’t pay (“All those 905ers who clog up YOUR roads would have to pay, but you won’t”). Non-Toronto residents don’t vote in Toronto, so no fall-out there.

    Steve: Ah yes, but all those 905ers might vote in a son-of-Mike-Harris in revenge, and then where would we be? Also, to be fair, there is a lot of out-commuting from the 416 to the 905. Should the Toronto residents pay a toll to drive into the 905? After all, we know that congestion is far worse out there than it is downtown.


  29. Nick J Boragina Says:
    June 8th, 2009 at 3:05 am

    “Diamond HOV lanes could solve some problems, so long as they are true HOV lanes (3 or more) and not this 2 people crap.

    “As for all these ideas to reduce roadspace, I find it funny that we have a poster above saying “no one reduction will kill the city” and then proposing to reduce some of the busiest streets even further. One lane reduction is not going to kill the city but 100 just might.”

    Diamond HOV lanes seem to work on the 403 because the OPP enforces them. They do not work in Toronto or Mississauga because no one enforces them.

    The idea is not to reduce road space but to use it more efficiently. The three lane sections of Jarvis and Avenue Road are not being uses efficiently if the cleft hand lane is sitting waiting the entire light for someone to turn left and the right hand lane is waiting for someone to turn right. It is better than the two lanes roads were you play which lane is going to turn roulette. On the roads with a single full time parking lane protected by bump outs there seems to be less illegal parking so there is always one lane free in each direction. Perhaps it is time for the city to say that at this intersection there will be left turn lanes but no right turns allowed and at the next one right turns and no left turns. Right now if you are northbound on Avenue Road at Davenport and some one is turning in each direction you have what is in effect a one lane street, not a three lane street in each direction. Smart lane changes will make the city more people friendly and yes that also includes those in cars.

    Tom West Says:
    June 8th, 2009 at 9:36 am

    “All this talk of tolls makes wonder what would happen if Toronto introduced a congestion charge. Not a city-centre scheme like London, UK, but levying a charge of (say) $5 on anyone who crosses the city boundary inbound between 7am and 9am. It would be an easy sell to Toronto residents, as they wouldn’t pay (”All those 905ers who clog up YOUR roads would have to pay, but you won’t”). Non-Toronto residents don’t vote in Toronto, so no fall-out there.”

    If you did this then it would be only fair (and fare), as Steve says, to have the toll in the morning for the 416 people who work in 905 country. The numbers of reverse flow people are approaching those in the peak direction which is one reason why GO needs better reverse peak service instead of dead heading empty trains to the end of the line. Steve is also right when he says that traffic congestion is worse outside of Toronto than it is inside. I know this is true in Brampton and Mississauga where I live. For the past seven years I have managed to live within a 6 minute drive or a 6 minute walk of where I worked and my blood pressure loved it.


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