The Gardiner East Conundrum: Saving Time Is Not The Only Issue

Toronto’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC) will consider an updated report on the Gardiner East reconstruction options at a special meeting on May 13, 2015 where this will be the only item on the agenda. (Note that additional detailed reports are linked at the bottom the main report.)

There has been much discussion of the alternative designs for the expressway section between Jarvis Street and the Don River and, broadly speaking, there are two factions in the debate.

  • For one, the primary issues are to maintain speed and capacity of the road system, and to avoid gridlock.
  • For the other, the primary issue is the redevelopment of the waterfront, and the release of lands from the shadow of the expressway structure.

Both camps seek to encourage economic growth in Toronto, but by different means and with different underlying assumptions.

A further issue, largely absent from the Gardiner debate, is the role and comparative benefits of various transit projects ranging from GO/RER/SmartTrack at the regional level, down to subway options including the Scarborough Subway Extension and the Downtown Relief Line, and local transit including the Waterfront East LRT line and a proposed Broadview Extension south across Lake Shore to Commissioners Street including a Broadview streetcar.

Background

In early 2014, four proposals for the Jarvis-to-Don segment were before Council:

  • Maintain the existing expressway
  • Improve the expressway with a new structure reduced in width (to acknowledge the absence of the Scarborough Expressway as a feeder)
  • Replace the expressway with a completely new structure whose footprint at grade would be less than the present design
  • Remove the expressway and create a consolidated Lake Shore Boulevard similar to University Avenue

GardinerFig1Alternatives

Both the Improve and Replace options would involve reconfiguration of Lake Shore Boulevard under the expressway to the extent that the expressway structure would allow.

When this was before Council, there was much concern about the travel time estimates and congestion in general. Some of the projected times did not, on their face, make sense to Councillors or the change in travel times were unacceptably large.

Further issues arose from an alternative “Hybrid” proposal put forward by First Gulf, developers of the former Unilever site east of the Don River. Access to their property is constrained by existing structures, notably the residual “Scarborough Expressway” branch which descends to grade at Logan Avenue and Lake Shore Boulevard east of their site.

GardinerFig5FirstGulfHybrid

The Hybrid scheme eliminates the Scarborough ramps so that the merge of expressway traffic into Lake Shore occurs west of the Don River rather than east of it. This opens up the south side of the First Gulf site.

As for the Gardiner/Don Valley Parkway ramps, these would be shifted so that the Gardiner, instead of swinging south along the edge of Keating Channel, would lie further north adjacent to the existing GO Transit Don Yard.

Council sent the whole package back to the planners asking that (a) they review travel time projections and (b) report on the Hybrid Option. It is this report that has now come back to Council.

The 2015 Proposals

There are now only three proposals on the table:

  • Maintain the existing expressway (this is the “base case”, or the “do nothing” option)
  • A modified version of the Hybrid option
  • Remove the expressway (this variation is now called the “Boulevard” option)

As proposed, the Hybrid option was unworkable for two major reasons:

  • The transition between the Gardiner and DVP would have required a very sharp curve that could not be driven at expressway speeds. This would form a bottleneck to road traffic and would be a safety hazard because of the sudden transitions between high speed expressway driving and a much slower curve.
  • The proposed alignment conflicts with a Toronto Water facility east of Cherry Street and a sediment control basin for the Don River.

GardinerFig6HybridConstraints

The Hybrid has been reworked so that it follows the same curve as the existing Gardiner/DVP link, but the Scarborough branch splits off with new ramps west of the Don merging into Lake Shore Boulevard.

GardinerFig7HybridAlternative

GardinerFig8HybridAlternativeNWView

For those who only know the area as it is today, or are unfamiliar with evolving plans for the eastern waterfront, there are several points to note in the illustrations above:

  • The ramps down from the Gardiner to Lake Shore begin west of Cherry rather than east of the Don River as they do today. Lake Shore Boulevard would cross the Don on a widened bridge, and east of the river, there would be no elevated structures.
  • The ramps between the Gardiner and the DVP are rebuilt in their current location starting from the elevated structure immediately north of the Keating Channel and swinging across the river to “land” on the DVP just south of the railway bridge that carries GO Transit operations east from downtown. This bridge cannot be moved because doing so would require complete realignment of the rail corridor. The railway berm doubles as part of the flood protection system.
  • Much of the development shown above does not yet exist, and the form of the Don River is completely changed to its new “naturalized” state. South of the Lake Shore bridge, this takes the river south parallel to the Don Roadway and then west out into the lake. Northwest of the DVP ramps is a sediment control area for the river. Some of the buildings west of Corktown Common (the park north of the rail corridor and west of the Don) have been built as part of the Pan Am Games Athletes’ Village, but more are to come. The land south of the rail corridor is only just beginning to develop, and that activity is at the western edge of the illustration. The area south of the Keating Channel, known as “Villiers Island” is now mainly vacant. The road at the south side of the development shown above is Commissioners Street.
  • Two new bridges will be added linking across the Keating Channel. One is at Munitions Street and the other is at a relocated Cherry Street that shifts west from its current location. The new bridge will not be a lift bridge because there will be no need to provide clearance for tall vessels into this area.
  • Transit connections via a realigned Queens Quay and New Cherry Street will serve the Port Lands including Villiers Island. Not shown on the map is a possible connection east via Commissioners to an extended Broadview Avenue.
  • From a neighbourhood design perspective, the alignment of the Gardiner along the north side of Keating Channel limits the options for opening up this area as a continuation of the planned Waterfront Promenade that is already an integral part of developments further west.

The Boulevard option has undergone minor changes to improve intersection operations between Cherry and Jarvis Streets in an attempt to reduce the travel time penalties of this configuration.

GardinerFig4BoulevardAlternativeNWView

Important notes about the Boulevard option are:

  • In the Boulevard option, all of the traffic flow east of Cherry stays further north than with the Hybrid option on a consolidated, 8-lane Lake Shore Boulevard. This splits at the DVP giving two lanes in each direction to the DVP and to Lake Shore east of the river matching the current configuration, but with much less elevated structure, and with the road at the water’s edge only for the Don River crossing.
  • If the DVP ramps stay in their present location, land west of the Don and north of Keating Channel that was expected to be available for development on the water’s edge will be occupied or hemmed in by them.
  • The Boulevard option, combined with other plans for the West Don Lands, East Bay Front and Villiers Island, establishes the entire area as one of “local” streets rather than as one dominated by the expressway structure.

The major tradeoffs come in which vision of the waterfront, and of downtown Toronto in general, is the priority for citizens and politicians.

Travel Time Estimates

The big debate over which option to choose will be a battle of competing demand and travel time models. One view is in the reports from the city staff and consultants, while another is in a study commissioned by the “Gardiner Coalition” from the Transportation Research Institute at the University of Toronto. The Coalition includes the CAA, Courier, Motor Coach and Trucking Associations, Redpath Sugar and the Financial District Business Improvement Area (BIA). [Note: The link here points to the cp24.com website where the report is available as part of their coverage of this issue. It does not appear to be online elsewhere, and the Coalition does not appear to have its own web presence. The UofT site announces that the study has been done, but does not provide a link to any documents.]

The City Studies

City studies have provided two different sets of estimates. The first was in the February 2014 report that triggered the current round of debate.

GardinerTravelTimesFeb2014

Note that travel times have already grown from locations to the northeast that are served by the DVP between 2001 and 2012. This is due to added congestion on the DVP that is not affected by the Gardiner options which have not yet been implemented. The DVP’s capacity is constrained further north with a considerable amount of traffic leaving at Eglinton and at Bloor. By 2031, travel times are expected to rise by another five minutes even with the current structure for trips originating on the DVP or Gardiner West.

During the 2014 discussions, attempts to understand the numbers in the chart above proved quite frustrating. For example, the Improve and Replace options produce longer travel times from all origins than the Maintain option, but the reason for this was never explained.

The compound effect of all of the increases between 2012 and 2031 Remove is quite substantial, and options that retain the Gardiner do only slightly better. The fundamental issue is that there is only so much road capacity to go around, and as long as there is growth in road travel, congestion will get much worse even if the Gardiner stays in an elevated configuration.

Another important issue is the growth in travel times from location “C” in the map, the southwest corner of Scarborough. Much of this traffic flows along Kingston Road, Woodbine and Lake Shore merging into the downtown street system at the Don River. For many drivers, location C is a midpoint, not the start of their journeys, and their total commute times from other parts of southern Scarborough will be affected by road capacity limitations there too. Travel times from “A”, “B” and “E” on the map are affected by existing capacity constraints moreso than from “C”, but that eastern approach via Lake Shore is filling up. This is demand the Scarborough Expressway was designed to address, but like its cousin, the Spadina Expressway, it would have done more harm than good.

Eventually, motorists have to accept that growth cannot be achieved by auto travel. That’s fine provided that there is an alternative.

In 2015, the projected travel times have changed somewhat.

GardinerFig9TravelTimesMay2015

The “2031 Base Case” above is the “Maintain” option of 2014, and right away we can see that the projected times have changed slightly. This should be explained, although it may simply be a case of rounding in the 2014 report where all values are multiples of 5.

For DVP and Gardiner West origins, the Hybrid option has the same travel times as the Base Case, unsurprising given that it is only a slightly modified version of what is there today. The Improve and Replace options are no longer on the table, but the question remains from 2014 of why their projected times were higher than the Maintain option, and more importantly why the 2015 Hybrid option performs better than those two abandoned schemes.

Where the Remove (Boulevard) option was 10 minutes higher than the Maintain option in 2014, this difference has been wrestled down to only 3 minutes through design changes. This is rather difficult to believe given the relatively small portion of the Gardiner East that has been “tweaked” in 2015, and the study authors would have done well to explain this in greater detail. Their failure to do so, as in the 2014 report’s lack of detail, undermines the credibility of the Boulevard option.

Again the “C” origins from southwest Scarborough face longer travel times regardless of which option is chosen.

The Gardiner Coalition Study

This study examines two variants of the Remove option, but does not consider the Hybrid scheme. The principal difference between the variants lies in the treatment of competing demand for road capacity. In one variant, the focus is on pedestrian movement, while on the other the focus is on auto traffic. This affects design elements notably signal timings where the two types of traffic will conflict.

Simulations of traffic flow (pp. 15-18) for each configuration show that there is little change in traffic volume between the Maintain and Replace options. This is related to another observation in the City’s study which found that demand on the expressways is not affected by the presence or absence of transit such as GO improvements, SmartTrack, the DRL or the Waterfront LRT line.

These findings are not surprising given that the traffic flowing into downtown from the DVP is a very small fraction of the total peak demand, and the road network has been “full” for years. With new transit, some existing trips may divert from the expressways, but these will easily be backfilled from existing demand. Without new transit, there is no capacity for the road  network to absorb more trips, and so transit gives the impression of being “without effect”.

What is missing both in the Gardiner Coalition and City studies is any discussion of the scale of growth that is expected on the transit system and various proposed components of that network. I will return to this point later.

Both the City and Coalition studies use projected traffic volumes on the DVP, Gardiner and Lake Shore as their starting point. There are differences between the numbers, but generally speaking the volumes are comparable. In both models, approximately 7,400 vehicles arrive via the DVP and Lake Shore, and they are dispersed to various destinations. The demand on the segment between the DVP and Jarvis Street is almost identical in both models.

City map of demand distribution westbound:

WestboundFlow

The Coalition study has similar figures for these flows:

GardinerUofTWBFlow

The Coalition study also includes a chart showing traffic that joins the Gardiner westbound at Jarvis and at Bay/Spadina. These add considerably to traffic west of Jarvis, but that section of the road is not under discussion. However, this volume must be factored into the behaviour of intersections, notably at Jarvis and the Gardiner/Lake Shore.

GardinerUofTWBFlowV2

For eastbound traffic, the basic numbers used by both the City and Coalition studies are similar, but there is an important difference in that the Coalition also shows eastbound traffic joining the Gardiner at downtown access points, not just the traffic coming east from Parkdale and points west.

City map of demand distribution eastbound:

EastboundFlow

Coalition map of eastbound demand without traffic originating downtown:

GardinerUofTEBFlow

Coalition map of eastbound demand including downtown traffic:

GardinerUofTEBFlowV2

Unfortunately, the Coalition study shows these added flows, but does not discuss how they affect the modelled behaviour of the road network notably the degree to which the Remove option might cause traffic to back up into the higher speed sections of the DVP and Gardiner approching the revised central section.

Among the design options included in the Coalition versions of the Remove option are:

  • Addition of the Richmond/Adelaide bike lanes
  • Different speeds and intersection signal timings to favour traffic, or to favour pedestrian activity, notably north-south crossings of the Boulevard.

There is no explanation of why the bike lanes were not included in the Base Case model if they are to be part of the future road network regardless of what happens to the Gardiner. Taking some capacity away from Richmond westbound could produce queueing back onto the southbound DVP, but this is not by itself an effect of the Remove option. These two factors need to be disentangled. An obvious related question is whether the City models included the bike lanes, and if so what was their effect on the behaviour of each option.

The simulated flows for the Gardiner eastbound in the Coalition study are intriguing because they show a reduced flow for the Remove option with pedestrian emphasis whose effect stretches west into Parkdale. This implies that traffic will be unable to exit as efficiently as it does today at Jarvis and points west to downtown because of backlogs of traffic pushing west from Jarvis.

Another way of looking at the demand modelling is to review trip times for various trips through the core area. The Coalition report shows this in the following diagrams.

GardinerUofTTripTimesWB

For westbound trips, the difference between the base case (Maintain) and both of the Remove scenarios is roughly the same for all destinations: 3-4 minutes for option 1 (traffic oriented signalling) versus 5.5-6.5 minutes for option 2 (pedestrian oriented signalling). This implies that all of the added delay occurs east of Sherbourne because the delays do not grow as one moves further west. However, it does not explain where the extra time is actually spent including the effect of reduced capacity on Richmond due to the bike lanes in the Coalition’s model. If these lanes were added to the Maintain scenario, what would happen? Would they create a delay on the DVP independently of whatever happens on the Gardiner?

GardinerUofTTripTimesEB

For eastbound trips, the spread between the Base Case and the Remove options grows as one moves further east, and for Remove Option 2 there is an added 2.5 minutes even for trips bound for the Spadina off ramp. This implies congestion reaching back across the core that adds more time to each trip the longer one spends in that segment. The extra trips that join the eastbound flow at downtown ramps have to be accommodated by the redesigned eastern section of the Gardiner, and the City model does not take them into account.

Updated May 12, 2015: In a comment, Karl Junkin has noted that the Remove Option 1 in the chart above shows lower times for the “high” and “average” values than the Base Case for traffic bound to the York, Yonge and Jarvis off ramps (albeit a small change).

These effects require further study and explanation.

It is almost counter-intuitive that a change on the eastern portion of the Gardiner would have effects on flow in from the west, and it will be important to learn if the geometry of the modelled Remove option matches what the City’s Boulevard option actually proposes.

The Coalition calculates a value for the time lost through added trip times through the core on a reconfigured Gardiner, and their clear aim is to show that this is a “cost” that must be weighed against capital (and future maintenance) cost of any Remove scenario. The challenge in such evaluations is that the “savings” of a faster road accrues privately (time and fuel savings) while the cost is a public one funded by taxes.

What is missing from the discussion is the question of competing demands on capital and operating budgets for transportation facilities that would serve far more trips than the comparatively small number who enter downtown via the Gardiner.

GardinerFig3AMPeakTrips

At great expense, we could make commuting times better (or at least not much worse than they are today) for Gardiner users, but what about the 68% of trips that are served by transit (2011), a figure that will grow over the decades because almost all new trips to the core will be on transit. There simply is no place left to put them on roads. What will be spent to serve this growth?

Competing Demands For Capital Investment

  • Gardiner East Project
  • GO/RER: Upgrade of the GO network to support at least a 15-minute all day service on most or all branches, with more frequent service on some corridors.
  • SmartTrack: A proposed frequent service also on a 15-minute headway proposed to run from Unionville to the commercial district south of Pearson Airport via the trackage used by the Stouffville and Kitchener services, branching off at Eglinton into a separate tunnel westward. This scheme will doubtless run into implementation and funding problems because of track time constraints on the shared GO corridors, and the dubious (and expensive) western leg via Eglinton. This could very well wind up as a subset of GO Transit operations, possibly with its own logo and fare structure depending on how much Mayor Tory has his heart set on implementing a unique service that sprang from his campaign.
  • DRL: A subway line with three possible segments: (1) a core link from the Danforth Subway to the vicinity of Union Station, (2) a north-easterly extension to Don Mills & Eglinton, and (3) a northwesterly extension linking to the Bloor Subway. This is an expensive project whose purpose is to divert demand from the main subway interchanges at St. George and Bloor-Yonge. This provides added capacity to the north-south lines and reduces the need for complex changes to increase the capacity at those interchanges.
  • SSE: A subway line running from Kennedy Station to either Sheppard Avenue or to Scarborough Town Centre via a route that is still to be decided. This line directly competes with the Stouffville GO/SmartTrack corridor.
  • Waterfront East LRT: An LRT line mirroring the existing Harbourfront route on Queens Quay West that would eventually operate south into Villiers Island and potentially hook up with a Broadview extension and with the already-built spur on Cherry Street that ends at the rail corridor.
  • Broadview LRT link: If Broadview Avenue is extended south to Commissioners through the First Gulf site, a direct service from the Danforth Subway at Broadview Station to the eastern waterfront would be possible.

There will almost certainly be a GO station to serve new development at the Don River, but GO/RER (and SmartTrack) cannot provide the fine grained service to address new employment and residential demand in the eastern waterfront. Their role is to provide for metropolitan and regional travel into the core, the same type of demand that the expressway network serves. At a finer grained level, both the DRL and any new waterfront transit would handle the local trips including links to the regional network.

In a few decades, the eastern waterfront may be home to 50,000 in an area that has seen little development since an industrial heyday beyond the memory of most Torontonians. Tens of thousands more will work and go to school there. Where is the debate about how all of these trips will be served, how the neighbourhoods will function without good transit? An elevated Gardiner is almost a non-entity for local travel to, from and within a small new city on the edge of downtown.

All of the “Gardiner” discussion has concentrated on the time that would be lost for road traffic, but the wider question for any investment is where it should rank against other possible uses of limited capital. Studies are now underway to determine the relative performance of options for most items listed here, but these will not be available until Fall 2015. In a rush to “fix the Gardiner” and to placate road users whose primary concerns are congestion and gridlock, we might launch down a path that precludes more investment in transit and a recognition of its vital role in the economy of downtown Toronto.

One must also ask why transit projects must beg and compete for funding when keeping the roads flowing seems to be essential at any price.

What Will It Cost?

Media coverage of the costs might leave some readers wondering just how the numbers are counted. In brief, the following considerations apply:

  • The cost to build each of the options ranges from $396-million for the Maintain scheme up to $524m for the Hybrid with the Remove option slightly higher than Maintain.
  • All three options will cost substantially more than the $232m now set aside in future capital plans by the City, and this will challenge the City’s overall debt management strategy.
  • Estimates for the Hybrid and Remove options have a ±20% margin because these have not been subject to detailed design, whereas more work has been done on the Maintain option and its estimated cost is felt to be accurate within a ±10% margin.

The debt management issue is a particularly troublesome one because current projections show Toronto hitting its self-imposed ratio of debt service costs to tax revenue of 15% by 2020 leaving no headroom for added borrowing for a multitude of projects. Either a very generous Tooth Fairy will appear to resolve this problem, or the City will have to make difficult choices about raising taxes to support additional capital debt.

GardinerCostEstimates

Construction is only part of the story, however, because elevated expressways cost more money to maintain than roads at grade.

GardinerCostEstimatesLifeCycle

The future cost of alternatives using an elevated structure are substantially higher than the Boulevard option because, as the Gardiner regularly reminds us, elevated roadways do not last forever. Even with improved road building technology, there will still be higher costs.

This chart has appeared quite regularly and the $919m Hybrid price is often quoted in comparison to the $461m for the Boulevard. However, much of the maintenance is in the future, and for present day comparisons, this is reduced to “Net Present Value” – the amount of money you would have to invest today so that it would pay all of the future expenses. Even the construction cost is lower on this basis because the work will not actually start until 2020.

GardinerCostEstimatesNPV

There is still a difference between the options, but the numbers are not quite as imposing.

Any comparison to transit projects must also look at costs, benefits and when these will occur to put the proposals on an equal footing. For example, the Gardiner Coalition prices out the cost of time for vehicles delayed in traffic, but we have heard nothing about the value of time for the much higher number of riders (present and future) who will attempt to use the TTC and GO systems.

The Rush To A Decision

The City’s study will come to the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee on May 13, and then to Council on June 10-11. In some political circles, the imperative is to “decide now” because (a) the expressway will fall down at any moment and (b) the wind appears to be in the sails, so to speak, of those who want to keep an elevated roadway in whatever form.

However, there are many unknowns, notably the assumptions, validity and implications of competing traffic modelling exercises, and the need to understand how any expressway configuration will behave as part of a larger downtown road network.

Probably the most important unknown is the future role of transit: where will it be, what types of demand will it serve, will getting to the core be easier for someone in Unionville or Bramalea than for someone in Scarborough, The Beach, West Toronto or Etobicoke? What will happen if we don’t expand the transit network to meet demand?

Will Toronto rise to the challenge of providing service to its growing, dense downtown business district, or will a pre-occupation with a relatively small commuting demand hi-jack the very necessary debate on the limits of funding, not to mention the dwindling role of road traffic? Will the future prosperity and attractiveness of downtown be defined by a chunk of expressway that serves a small minority of commuting traffic, or by a commitment to very substantial additions to the transit network’s capacity to deliver riders to those shining towers so favoured by those who are Toronto boosters?

Council should not be rushed to decide immediately on a Gardiner option until the studies now underway for transit options are on the table. This is a short delay in the time scale of all of the projects, but it gives us the opportunity to look at them all, to decide where those precious taxpayer dollars should go.

Postscript

This article has deliberately avoided two components of the debate and reports: the questions of city building and urban design as these would be influenced by whichever Gardiner survives into the next decade, and the Goods Movement Study that addresses the needs of commercial traffic both from the Port Lands and other industrial areas east of downtown, and for access by commercial traffic to the core in general.

I wanted to concentrate on the transit vs road tradeoffs, and what, to me, is an undue focus on one component of a very complex network. No matter what we do, making everyone happy is simply not possible. Today’s squeaky wheels represent too small a part of the total population and travel demand. They should not dictate the outcome of the larger discussion.

77 thoughts on “The Gardiner East Conundrum: Saving Time Is Not The Only Issue

  1. Great write up Steve,

    I’m certainly no Auto Advocate but I “get” why the Boulevard option is frowned upon. I do not feel sorry for their 10 minute extra commute but a link from a highway to a highway is being considered for demolition when it is (marginally) the cheapest option. In the long run a non-elevated structure will be the cheaper option but how many people really think that way?

    It’s too bad the Hybrid option is so expensive as I think it might be the best option. I would like to see a Smart Track station and a Waterfront LRT line running through the area first as the density begins to take hold. And I agree with you that the prudent option would be “do nothing” for now until transit sorts itself out first – since public transit should be the top priority and road space considerations should come after transit plans have been made.

    Do you have any idea on how far down the priority list the Waterfront LRT is at this point?

    Steve: The Waterfront is on nobody’s priority list, at least among those who have any money to spend on it. Even Waterfront Toronto talks of it as being a project for the 2020s. Big thanks must go to the TTC for their footdragging on the design, and on their constant underestimation of the cost and complexity of the tunnel connection, not to mention missing the big chance to do at least some of the work while the tunnel was closed for construction at Union.

    Like

  2. Demolishing a major highway like the Gardiner is a terrible idea and I cannot take it seriously. It would just cause severe traffic problems on Lake Shore and Richmond/Adelaide and Highway 401. These models which project traffic congestion are not very accurate and probably suffer from the same sorts of problems as the models used for planning the “Transit City” LRT lines which obviously underestimated projected ridership. Underestimating the amount of development which will be built on the Unilever site and assuming that every possible new transit line will be built downtown results in unrealistically low estimates of how much worse the congestion would be if you demolish the Gardiner. Even if it really only takes a few minutes longer it is laughable that doing anything which intentionally makes traffic worse in a city where traffic is already awful is a good thing. The traffic gets bad enough when the Gardiner and DVP are closed at the same time for the annual Ride for Heart (city council needs to cancel this) or when the Gardiner and DVP are closed for maintenance, but permanently closing the Gardiner would cause chaos. GO electrification is a decade away, SmartTrack is not a serious proposal, the downtown relief line is far in the future and redeveloping the Unilever site would mean that there will be a lot more car traffic in the area.

    Steve: Are you aware that we are only talking about the section of the Gardiner east of Jarvis, not the entire expressway? Saying that this will have effects on Highway 401 is not a very solid starting point for your argument.

    Like

  3. I genuinely can’t believe that the needs of some 6000 rush-hour drivers (counting both directions) is considered worth a few millions of dollars (I can’t really tell if it’s 3 or 5) per year indefinitely (at least until the next time the freeway structure needs to be rebuilt). On that basis, there should be at least M$15/year going to the TTC just for Yonge-Bloor! (To pick a transit bottleneck that probably costs many more transit riders as much of a delay as the Boulevard plan would cost a few thousand whiny drivers.)

    I have basically given up on people (in general) but it never ceases to amaze me how hopeless they are at basic math.

    Like

  4. Steve:

    Are you aware that we are only talking about the section of the Gardiner east of Jarvis, not the entire expressway? Saying that this will have effects on Highway 401 is not a very solid starting point for your argument.

    Yes I realize that the proposal is only to tear down the section east of Jarvis (though the proponents of this idea obviously want to tear down the whole thing, at least the elevated section) but demolishing such a major part of the road system definitely will put more traffic on the 401, because there no longer would be a connection between the Gardiner and DVP. Most of the 1550 vehicles per hour that use this connection would end up on the 401 I suspect. It seems ridiculous to me that this kind of proposal is even being taken seriously. You cannot demolish major expressways in a major city and not end up with chaos. If you redevelop the Unilever site it will be even worse.

    This is just a typical example of bogus assumptions being used in transportation models to make bad proposals look good. If you assume that every imaginable transit line gets built into downtown and then assume that nothing gets built on the Unilever site then maybe demolishing the Gardiner will waste only a few minutes of drivers’ time (which is still unacceptable in my view given how awful Toronto traffic is) but that is unrealistic. Similarly all the Transit City LRT projections seem to have deliberately underestimated ridership by assuming that little new development would be built along the lines. (Also, the Sheppard LRT ridership projections are low because transferring at Don Mills is inconvenient. Thankfully, the province has basically cancelled this bad idea). The ridership projections for subway extensions like the Richmond Hill extension do the opposite and assume massive amounts of redevelopment to make the projections unrealistically high. I recall the section of the DVP between Bloor and Gardiner being closed due to flooding a few years ago during rush hour, and it caused traffic chaos all over the city. Do you really think that the Gardiner is any different?

    Like

  5. This section of the Gardiner/Lakeshore combo currently handles 130,000 vehicles per day (24 hour period) and the numbers only looking at rush hour have often been quoted so that some people think we are talking about a few thousand cars at most.

    I just skimmed that above but there was another study predicting longer times that was published.

    This whole process is rushed and has been skewed towards the “remove” option in my view.

    There is a lot that doesn’t make sense. For example, this huge sediment pond – why is that being built here as opposed to south of the Keating channel, or perhaps north of the prince Edward viaduct?

    The “Maintain” option when it was anlyszed last year indicated that there was no land sales possible unlike the other options – I found this hard to believe given the land north of the Gardiner could be sold off.

    The options look at 100 years, but what makes sense is to fix the Gardiner now, don’t develop the land around it, and then do something in 20-40 years when transit is in place

    All this talk about growth and redevelopment in this City doesn’t ever seem to look at the total need for housing and how much land or rezoning is needed to accommodate it.

    The 416 is projected to grow from 2.74 million to 3.08 million from 2011 to 2031 – about 320,000. But there is intensification in the Downtown and the Centres, brownfield development like the West Don Lands and Portland and Waterfront, and the things like Downsview.

    Then a lot of the avenues and new transit corridors have been up-zoned or will be upzoned so that growth will be aligned with transit – to be more efficient and also to ensure that the ridership is there and development charges etc. help to pay for transit.

    It seems to me that too much land is going to be rezoned for the number of people that the 416 needs to accept – 320,000 over 20 years is 16,000 people per year, which is about 8,000 housing units – but the city is currently approving more than that plus all of the other location mentioned still have lots of room.

    In effect, we do not need to redevelop land along the Gardiner East, or the First Gulf Site. Development is not going to happen in places where it needs to be happening as it might be too thinly spead out and will go where where the market dictates – just as much of the midrise development has been on already stressed streetcar routes in the old parts of the city rather than being on the lower density strip malls on Lawrence and other suburban Avenues.

    Then there is the cost – how are we going to pay for the hybrid option? Frankly, the City should have bought the Unilever site so that any benefit is recaptured rather than going to the lucky buyers.

    We botched the whole Scarborough LRT decision, we will likely do so with this one.

    Like

  6. Somebody should start a “keep the Gardiner west of Jarvis” campaign…that’s all really anyone cares about…

    None of these proposals takes into account potential options for transit (I know I mentioned in previous comment about bringing the DRL south in an effort to potentially intercept car traffic coming from the east along lakeshore and Steve pointed out some potential issues with that) – although I think water table can be dealt with and future development might make it more reasonable (as it may be easier to provide north south bus connections from the cortlands).

    Another possibility that would potentially get people off of transit and lessen the effect of the removal of the DVP would be to build a DRL station in the valley between (Millwood and Pape) or somewhere by Don Mills/DVP, or somewhere near Eglington/Science Centre with direct parking access via an offramp from the DVP. This would potentially provide a faster route downtown for people coming from the north east as well as justify going under the don vs building a bridge.

    My strong belief is that even if the time on the DVP goes up by 60 minutes if you can provide another option that is comparable to the current time (either DRL, SmartTrack, BRT, LRT) or some combination of them that gets the majority of the origin->destination pairs, then it would be a lot harder to say no to getting rid of it…but there has to be a commitment to getting those options done. There will always be a small contingent of people who would walk through fire to not take a bus, but we shouldn’t be designing the city around them…

    Like

  7. When I look at the areas they are highlighting time to core I see that these are areas of low service for rapid transit. Perhaps the real solution here is to increase the level of service. If you want to address travel time from Don Mills and Eglinton (B) to core, the best way would be to build the DRL at least that far north, and it combined with the EC-LRT would greatly improve the transit option from there hopefully greatly altering the modal balance. The Don Mills LRT built to Steeles, would also improve the ride for those at A. Victoria Park and Kingston Road, in my mind is also a question of improved transit at least for those core bound. The creation of a real ROW ie the Waterfront East, along with much more frequent 502 would change the dynamics in the area.

    I think the focus needs to be on reducing the reasons why people are driving into the core more than focusing on the road capacity into the core, as roadways can only hope to make a tiny dent in the overall load. The vast majority of those headed to the core are riding transit, and I suspect that the reason those who aren’t especially from the areas that are highlighted by the study, is at least partly due to relatively poor access to transit service in those areas.

    Steve in the boulevard option – is there room to allow Cherry to be an overpass? One of the issues of concern with a boulevard will be the loss of capacity and speed due to signals. I would like to retain a reasonable ability to cross the core and have access from both sides, however, also believe that this section of elevated highway is really a eyesore, and takes away from Toronto in a meaningful way, without really adding that much in the way of access.

    Steve: None of the north-south crossings can be an overpass or underpass because of the street spacing and the extra room required for ramp. This would defeat the purpose of taking the Gardiner down to grade level.

    Like

  8. For those, like Andrew, who see doom and gloom if a freeway is ever torn down, I would like to point you specifically to San Francisco. The Embarcadero freeway was a total eyesore that ran along prime bayfront land and theoretically was meant to connect the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge. It carried as many as 70,000 vehicles a day. There was quite the vehement debate over tearing it down for many years.

    Thankfully SF had the Loma Prieta earthquake to finish the job. What’s left is a fantastic boulevard design with MUNI light rail running through the median. Incredibly popular with pedestrians, the new design connects the city to the water. Some people may have marginally longer commute times, but I don’t think many residents of SF would vote to restore the freeway at this point.

    Previously the piers lining the water were industrial and decaying after the shift of the deepwater port to Oakland. Now, they are constantly being redeveloped making the waterfront a much more vibrant place. Given its proximity to downtown, with some proper transit thrown in, maybe the same thing could happen in Toronto.

    Steve: Some cities have had an elevated demolition forced by earthquake, and others have decided to remove the expressway on their own. At the end of the day, the question is what is best for the city overall. Commuting by car has become worse and worse throughout the GTHA because the road network cannot support the level of population and economic activity. It is ironic to be debating a small part of Toronto’s waterfront when there are much worse problems elsewhere.

    Like

  9. Steve said:

    “None of the north-south crossings can be an overpass or underpass because of the street spacing and the extra room required for ramp. This would defeat the purpose of taking the Gardiner down to grade level.”

    I did not really think there would be, was not sure about the space in that particular area. I have to say, however, that a single overpass is much less of an eyesore, than a continuous elevated roadway. The issue of tight road spacing is however, a huge issue, also would consume a large amount of valuable land – even if you could allocate it.

    Like

  10. Great synopsis Steve. I’m starting more and more to lean towards the remove option, from my initial stance on the hybrid proposed by Great Gulf.

    What worries me a little is the assumptions the city is making in the revised hybrid option:

    — I don’t fully understand why a replacement would have to take a hard turn. This seems to me that they are constraining themselves to have the highway go under the rail corridor. The East Gardiner as it is is much higher than it would need to be…the ramps onto the DVP raise up to get over the ramps coming from Lakeshore west bound. If you were along the corridor, the ramps could cross over the rail corridor at a much lower elevation, and only need to touch down before the Eastern underpass. Doing so would also free up most of the river bank south of Eastern on both sides.

    — Figure-7 above says “use existing DVP ramps”. The problems with this are twofold. First of all, as I mentioned above, the ramps are probably twice as high in the air as they would need to be for this project. Second, half of the piers are shown to be in the new basin (Figure 8). You cannot simply dig out around existing foundations and allow them to suddenly be immersed in water. There may be details I’m missing, but you’d need to completely rebuild the bottoms.

    — Lastly is the network comparison. I’ve done a number of infrastructure financial models in my work. First off, it’s a little nuts to try to cost something 100 years into the future, let alone 50. We usually cap out at 30 (typical P3 contract length). Secondly, that long timeline means assuming that unfunded projects are built. In a cost comparison scenario, that’s unfair, because you’re not taking into account the costs of getting the supplementary forms of transit.

    Some European cities, like Manchester, have set up frameworks in order to try to prioritize a network of infrastructure projects, looking at their relationships and each part’s contribution to the local economy. Toronto is a long way from being able to choose a road versus transit project based on economic and financial analysis, but hopefully that network thinking will get here some day.

    Like

  11. If streetcars are to survive the DRL, then we must find a surface right of way for the DRL (as a subway will kill several streetcar routes) and the demolition of the Gardiner presents an opportunity to that effect.

    Steve: The section of the Gardiner that would come down is too short and too far south to be of use to a DRL alignment.

    Like

  12. Thanks for all of this thought and work Steve, and the presumption of service provision with no regard to cost or cost recovery that is salient, as is the failure to really think of how to have new transit take away some of this car demand.

    The large majority of people coming into the core now take transit, and this is the theory behind things like Official Plans and Places to Grow 3.2.2 and 3.2.3 – but observance of it when it comes to the Excessways is lacking to laughable.

    We need to delay this all ’til we get to considering transit options, and I’m favouring a busway on the Gardiner even, and the DVP corridor including the rail spur line owned by Metrolinx to the north and east via Thorncliffe and thence to the Gatineau hydro corridor. Surface is far far easier technically and costs less, though political will is critical, and some tunnelling and other large engineering works would be necessary with much consultation in the Thorncliffe Park and Overlea/Don areas.

    Over-arching all of this is the climate crisis – if some talk of a 100-year horizon, and we’re almost fried now, maybe they’re ignoring climate change and how cars contribute to it?

    Taking more time and ignoring risks would be perfectly aligned with how the City has been treating cycling hazards and deaths, and there are more core cyclists than travel this eastern segment of roadway.

    Steve: I also did not comment on the goods movement study. Frankly I think this has two components that must be faced head on. First is the future of commercial traffic to and from the waterfront. We should not be building capacity for a use that may not continue to exist, or at least at the same scale. Second is the question of time of day for commercial traffic. This should be discussed in the wider context of downtown delivery management generally and whether Toronto should move to enforced night-time deliveries. Some types of “delivery” such as concrete to building sites is time sensitive, but other types are not, at least in the sense that businesses will adapt. One might even go further and wonder whether “premium space” on expressways should be reserved for transit and commercial traffic. We hear a great deal about the importance of goods movement, but I cannot help thinking this is a smokescreen for “build more roads” for auto users in general.

    Like

  13. Frank said:

    “If streetcars are to survive the DRL, then we must find a surface right of way for the DRL (as a subway will kill several streetcar routes) and the demolition of the Gardiner presents an opportunity to that effect.”

    Steve said:

    “The section of the Gardiner that would come down is too short and too far south to be of use to a DRL alignment.”

    I have a hard time imagining a DRL as subway actually killing a lot of routes. A lack of service may, but, the nature of the services is quite different. The King and Queen cars may offer improved service with an additional tie to subway, however while that may help to reduce the overload on the cars themselves, I would think it would also increase the overall ridership of the car, as it would make a more attractive method of travel, if you are on a longer trip, having shorter access to subway, this would reduce the number of auto trips required – and convert many to streetcar. I see the DRL focused on longer trips, streetcar being highly local, and the 2 together making for a more effective network.

    I would argue that some routes could be rethought with an option of subway support, however, I think this too would increase ridership. I think a 502 on a 3 minute headway to subway would be great. If the DRL was stretched as subway to the eastern end of the Queensway, then streetcar from southern Etobicoke would be much more attractive. If streetcar lines are properly connected such a subway would provide for more development along the streetcar lines, which would allow ridership to continue to grow, while still effectively serving riders. I think a well considered DRL with good connectivity, with wider stop spacing than the southern portion of Yonge (which I do not think would be repeated) would provide a quick trip, and strong support to a more complete network that would be heavily streetcar. It would also allow the possibility of extending the routes through what will be very high density areas, as there would be the possibility of more of the streetcar load getting off part way through the trip.

    I would argue that a well considered DRL should be an opportunity to extend the streetcar network. I am looking at the eastern waterfront, and thinking the area north of Lakeshore all the way to Kew Beach and beyond will look like Liberty Village and Harbourfront. I see 50,000 new residents on the east side and the office park on the Unilever Lands as a start, not an end. I would expect the development here to dwarf Liberty Village which is still growing and has already overwhelmed the King car, and even with the new cars will likely stretch it to the max. I have no problem imagining a Liberty Village ++ east of the DRL and similar redevelopment between a DRL and the core — they would be at least to some degree (likely great) using streetcar as their initial access, and while they may also use the DRL, that would be an also not instead – I see the Queen street east car very heavily used in this scenario, along with a Waterfront East car in ROW. I see the east developing in the next couple of decades at least as much as the west has in the last couple of decades, and streetcar being at least as central.

    Generally Toronto, needs to radically increase its streetcar transit support across the broad shoulder area in order to support continued growth – routes even well north of Queen. A DRL should support not undermine this move towards high density walking and transit oriented development.

    Steve: City Planning considers the streetcar routes vital to growing demand in the “shoulder” downtown will likely develop more with midrise than highrise buildings.

    Like

  14. Has anyone thought to reroute the thing and build over the railyard? A big toll plaza on the Mass Pike in Boston comes to mind.

    Steve: There are many problems with the rail yard. First, the road would have to swing over above it at or east of Jarvis, and the footings for the elevated structure, not to mention access ramps, would consume valuable space within the rail corridor. It’s not just a question of dropping a column here and there between the tracks, but of leaving sufficient clearance. Ramps to local streets would be particularly tricky because in places they would conflict with buildings close to the rail corridor. They would also be longer because the corridor is wider than the expressway and the ramps could not descend until they were clear of the tracks. The split at the Don to Lake Shore east would be particularly tricky because the Gardiner would be further north than it is today.

    Like

  15. Steve, I notice you didn’t comment on a small detail that I thought was the most interesting part of the Gardiner Coalition study by UofT: That eastbound trips into downtown actually had a slight improvement in travel times when the Gardiner East was removed in their Option One. If people are going to make a big deal over a 3 minute increase, then an up to 1.5 minute decrease from removal is also fair game.

    Steve: Yes, that is certainly intriguing and suggests that there is something else going on in their “Remove Option 1” that they have not explained. I note that the change is in the “high” value while the “low” value remains the same, with the result that the “average” comes down too. I will add a note about this in the body of the article.

    Like

  16. I live in The Beach – a wonderful place to live but just try getting anywhere in the City from here. There are endless complaints about the 501 streetcar, and if you are not headed to the core, then you have to get a bus up to the Danforth Subway as it is probably faster.

    Tearing down the stub of the Scarborough Expressway would have a major impact on people living in the 4 wards to the east (29-32).

    Not all trips are to the core – it is funny but I thought that for the last 50 years the trend was away from the “hub and spoke” model of the city, and now so much of the land downtown in and around the core has (or is) for condo development, not for office buildings – so that instead of office space being walking distance from Union most of the future office development will be much farther away.

    Anyway, tear down the Gardiner and it means for us Beachers that there is no access to or from the Gardiner/QEW until Jarvis.

    25 years ago I lived just south of the AGO and commuted by car to work in Don Mills, against traffic. 510 years ago I was working in the Core but usually drove because I sometimes unexpectedly needed a car for work and in any case needed it for after work to get around. Not everyone can build their work and personal life around the TTC.

    Even so, it is nuts to tear down the Gardiner with neither the money to replace it with a hybrid or similar option, nor with a DRL or other extra transit in place.

    Steve: I presume that you meant to say that 10 years ago you worked in the Core. 510 years ago, Columbus had only recently bumped into North America by accident, and travel to what is now downtown was rather more difficult, albeit probably less congested.

    Like

  17. Steve said:

    “City Planning considers the streetcar routes vital to growing demand in the “shoulder” downtown will likely develop more with midrise than highrise buildings.”

    Yes, with a large number of midrise buildings, the density gets quite high, and creates dynamic neighborhoods, with a very high population density. This is really the type of development that streetcars are best for. That is higher load stretched across a larger area, that is not really well served by a single station that collects for a small area around it, but too dense for a bus to be able to carry. I would expect subway to at best aid the streetcar in this situation, not have a hope of replacing it – as a subway stations walkable catchment area is too small for this type of development.

    However, subway as support to streetcar – well now we are talking. (Just remember subway is in the supporting not leading role).

    Like

  18. Brian Graff said:

    “Anyway, tear down the Gardiner and it means for us Beachers that there is no access to or from the Gardiner/QEW until Jarvis.”

    I would like to point out, given Lakeshore in the area, and that the length of roadway that will not be there really, that should not be that bad. Yes it will add a little time to your trip, however, in the case of it being an extended boulevard, I do not see this as being a disaster, anymore than being at St Clair is.

    The development that is likely coming to the area west of you can only really be served by transit, and without significant transit improvements through the area, the presence of absence of the Gardiner east will make little difference.

    Like

  19. It is UGLY! Tear it down. The $900M (nearly a Billion $) is today’s figure. NOTHING ever gets built on budget and on time. So, by the time it actually opens it will be 10’s or hundreds of millions more.

    As Lampy said “Toronto is Tomorrow’s City. And, it always will be.” For ONCE, take a “world class” choice and look to the future not just next election, or the next major repair job.

    Like

  20. So why does it cost 864 Million to maintain just 1.7 kilometers of highway?

    If it costs 20 million dollars annually to chop and chip the Gardiner down. Why not just stop chipping and Catch it instead in an “Innovation Catchment Mesh”, installed throughout – now not mtce cost. just catch it and once a year, drop the “diaper” with a few hand full of concrete pieces” into a truck below. COST INSTALLED ABOUT 10 MILLION DOLLARS.

    Oh yes, that so called nasty upper deck (supposedly). JUST REPAVE IT, WITH A STEEL GRID MESH, IMBEDDED WITH THE ASPHALT OR CONCRETE, now we’re good for 30 years. (mtce free), that cost 10 MILLION FOR A REINFORCED PAVEMENT JOB.

    This innovative solutions saved 844 Million Dollars, and had NO GRIDLOCK. Are people getting kickbacks from construction or consulting firms. Is this why Toronto Bearuacrats cannot and will not see their way through, “better spending”? like transit – sensible capital money.

    Steve: No it does not cost $864m to maintain it. The “maintain” option includes several hundred million worth of major repairs that must be done regardless of what happens to the Gardiner. Then add in a century of maintenance for the elevated structure (the 100-year life estimate was what the study was asked for) at about $5m per year, and it’s easy to get up to $864m.

    Like

  21. Brian Graff | May 12, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    I live in The Beach – a wonderful place to live but just try getting anywhere in the City from here. There are endless complaints about the 501 streetcar, and if you are not headed to the core, then you have to get a bus up to the Danforth Subway as it is probably faster.

    Tearing down the stub of the Scarborough Expressway would have a major impact on people living in the 4 wards to the east (29-32).

    [Balance of quoted comment snipped]

    Joe M:

    I’m at Morningside & Sheppard & frequently travel along Kingston Rd to or past downtown when I drive as the 401-DVP is almost as bad as the 2-2-1/2 hour commute to the core with 3-5 transfers to get to my work destinations on the TTC.

    Needless to say it’s hard to even imagine the construction impact of any of these decisions. Then even crazier to even imagine they might choose an option which increases commute times into the future.

    I guess it will only help the narrative around this blog that most Scarborough citizens don’t travel downtown. Couldn’t imagine why?

    Like

  22. Steve: No it does not cost $864m to maintain it. The “maintain” option includes several hundred million worth of major repairs that must be done regardless of what happens to the Gardiner. Then add in a century of maintenance for the elevated structure (the 100-year life estimate was what the study was asked for) at about $5m per year, and it’s easy to get up to $864m.

    The “Maintain” option last year had $215 million to replace the deck. But to make it “comparable” to the options they added in about $125 million (or was it $115?) for other things.

    Over 100 years it will no doubt need several major interventions to keep it safe and usable, rather than it being a steady stream. The Hybrid Option is the most expensive, and we do not have money to pay for it given the stupid tax increase we are getting for Scarborough subway and the other projects.

    Frankly if I had my choice I would just leave the Gardiner up and turn all of the Portlands into park.

    WNED was re-running the shows on Frederick Law Olmstead last week – Central park is 700 acres – we are adding massive numbers of people to this city but the only major park project comparable to central park is the Rouge, which is too far away, and even the Downsview Park will likely end up like Harbourfront.

    What will people think in 100 years if we keep densifying the city but end up with only the parkland we have now? (Well, plus maybe only a few small parks added in with the condos to meet local needs).

    Like

  23. Steve: Improve the expressway with a new structure reduced in width (to acknowledge the absence of the Scarborough Expressway as a feeder).

    Steve: Scarborough faces longer travel times regardless of which option is chosen.

    My question to Steve, Rob Wightman, and Malcolm N is as follows: Why is it always that Scarborough has to pay the price? And then our Big Brother Downtown wants to cancel our long promised subway too just like they cancelled the Scarborough Expressway.

    Steve: Oh poor sad Scarborough. The proposed expressway was not built decades ago, and transit improvements (notably the RT) were supposed to make the need for it vanish. Things didn’t quite work out that way. You have not had a “long promised subway”, and originally, the Danforth line was going to end at Warden. Even when it was extended to Kennedy, Scarborough Council worked against making that a major development node because it would have competed with their precious “Town Centre”. Scarborough was screwed by its own politicians.

    Like

  24. Steve:

    Option (4):- Remove the expressway and create a consolidated Lake Shore Boulevard similar to University Avenue

    I would support this option if DRL is built on surface here (with burial only where absolutely necessary). Also I read somewhere about burying the highway. Not a good idea unless all the vehicles using the same are electric.

    Steve: The DRL won’t be built on the surface “here” because it won’t be south of the rail corridor.

    Like

  25. When looking at the original “hybrid” solution, the following comments can be made.

    1. The road is elevated already and it appears quite easy for it to simply span over the wastewater treatment facility shown just East of Cherry Street.
    2. The ramp from Gardiner to DVP could fit just south of the railway yard, but it should go over the railway and under Eastern Avenue. This will allow a smoother curve, about the same radius as is proposed in the new hybrid option.
    3. The original hybrid option keep more of the waterfront open than the new hybrid option – which I assume is preferred.

    Maybe we can upload the DVP and Gardiner to the Province – it only makes sense since it does serve a Regional need.

    Like

  26. Walter: Maybe we can upload the DVP and Gardiner to the Province – it only makes sense since it does serve a Regional need.

    The province downloaded many highways onto cities – like the section of the QEW east of the 427.

    Steve: Option (4): Remove the expressway and create a consolidated Lake Shore Boulevard similar to University Avenue.

    University Avenue north of Queen carries only 45,000 vehicles per day – we are talking close to triple that volumes (130,000 cars per day). Frankly it would be less of a barrier and more useful if the Gardiner were left where it is and Lakeshore (18,000 cars per day) was moved north and were to run through the middle of the First Gulf site, leaving the area under the Gardiner immediately adjacent to the Keating channel as park space – where the Gardiner is very high above grade.

    Leave everything north of the Keating Channel between Cherry Street and the Don River as parkland.

    Like

  27. Joe M said:

    “I’m at Morningside & Sheppard & frequently travel along Kingston Rd to or past downtown when I drive as the 401-DVP is almost as bad as the 2-2-1/2 hour commute to the core with 3-5 transfers to get to my work destinations on the TTC.

    Needless to say it’s hard to even imagine the construction impact of any of these decisions. Then even crazier to even imagine they might choose an option which increases commute times into the future.”

    First it should be 1.5 hours from Morningside and Sheppard to King subway – so I assume you are talking about your 2 way trip. Beyond this is really a question of decent management and basic service support (ie the real need for more buses and decent route management).

    2nd I personally favour the idea of a BRT in Gatineau or similar service, to provide for the local buses to not run to either RT or subway in traffic. A frequent bus in Gatineau to Kennedy Stations (subway and GO) would also help rebuild the concept of buses running a more frequent grid to support better within Scarborough – which is as you point out more common. Proper fare integration on GO would make this quite a reasonable trip, and gets the best service for your area of Scarborough to core.

    I think that this would have a much larger impact on you trip than subway extension or LRT loop. However, as I have said before I do not believe it is really a choice between subway and RT replacement, as once built (car house) in the area, LRT is easy to extend, and extension would be an easy win for any government in an election, and would fit easily in the “what we did for you” every election cycle. So I would argue, get past the – build 2 two LRT, and continue to push for the expenditure of the full budget allocated for Scarborough in Scarborough – just keep the BS management seen on Vaughan out of it.

    Like

  28. Dave said:

    “My question to Steve, Rob Wightman, and Malcolm N is as follows: Why is it always that Scarborough has to pay the price? And then our Big Brother Downtown wants to cancel our long promised subway too just like they cancelled the Scarborough Expressway.”

    I think the questions are: Why did Scarborough not opt for LRT when it was on the table prior to 1984? {That is when it would have had a chance to actually form new development} Why did the local council force the service that was proposed away from likely development and into an industrial rail corridor? Why did Scarborough force the current STC location to be the heart of Scarborough and not the Kennedy or Warden areas? Why do current Scarborough politicians continue to push for a narrow area of service, rather than pushing for effective broad coverage? The local political group clearly has the pull to gather massive funds, so why not something that will actually provide real service, instead of being a catch phrase without a really defined plan? Why is it that the notions that city planning has, that would appear to actually make sense get blown to bits when it involves Scarborough, and get replaced with much more grandiose plans, that will be very hard to bring to reality?

    Steve – was there not opposition even within Scarborough to the East Metro expressway and to a lesser extent even the Scarborough Expressway?

    Steve: The main objection to the Scarborough Expressway was in the Beach and southwestern Scarborough where communities would have been affected by interchanges. As for the East Metro Freeway, I doubt if many people in Scarborough today even know what that is. It’s important to remember that in that timeframe, much of northern Scarborough was still lightly populated.

    Like

  29. Malcolm N said:

    First it should be 1.5 hours from Morningside and Sheppard to King subway – so I assume you are talking about your 2 way trip. Beyond this is really a question of decent management and basic service support (ie the real need for more buses and decent route management).

    1.5 hours is best case scenario just to get into the core. Quite rare. Usually closer to 2 hours. Then I need to start my next commute to work location anywhere from 10 minutes to 45 minutes depending where the job site is.

    The BRT through the Gatineau corridor could be an effective route to speed up commute times. Although it’s certainly not that effective in terms of stop locations but not horrible. In this Political climate It would just be another so-so “one size fits all plan” to be debated by Politicians. Now if a BRT network was fully funded to run around Scarborough as an complete network we might find a constructive debate. Otherwise it just another line on a map like the rest.

    Because of the Political chaos where we can only address one problem at a time I really believe the subway extension is by far the best choice on the table for Scarborough residents. Years down the road local BRT/LRT routes can be added if & when traffic forces politicians to go back to the drawing board and play games. Until then efficient, attractive access for everyone in Scarborough will be available to get in and out of the core on the TTC. One problem solved the other can wait.

    Like

  30. Thanks for the writeup! A couple of comments/questions —

    1. I liked the original hybrid option, and wonder if the sharp curve could have been smoothed out to make it more manageable for highway speeds and not have to bring it right to the Keating channel, where the promenade will not be nearly as nice now. I realize that the rail bridge makes it impossible to for the curve and ascending portion to begin until south of there.
    2. Rather than a true tunneled option, wouldn’t it be possible to do a “cut and cover” Gardiner East for some of the section, where the few access roads up and down to Lakeshore would not be too complicated?
    3. If they can build large buildings on top of a railyard in NYC, why can’t we thread a highway through a railyard here?

    Steve: The geometry problem of the curve radius needed for the DVP/Gardiner link and the location of the rail corridor pretty much dictates where things have to be if the curve will be taken at full highway speeds. For the Boulevard option, the speed on the boulevard would be lower and so the curve can take up less space.

    As for tunneling, if we go that route, then there would be a link to the surface only at Jarvis (as today with the ramps). The north-south streets here are too close together to have ramps, and the ramp structures would take up more room than a turn lane from a surface roadway. Another problem is that one has to somehow get under the river and then back up again to the DVP’s elevation while maintaining room for access to other roads such as the Don Roadway that will be more important in the future with development on the First Gulf site.

    The differences in NYC relate to how the rail yard is designed and whether provision is included for buildings above. The GO Yard and rail corridor are quite tight, and adding footings needed to hold up a roadway, let alone a building, would take away existing space from the railway. There is a similar problem at the TTC’s Davisville Yard which has been proposed many times as a development site. Buildings over the main line (such as between St. Clair and Summerhill) can rest on spans across what was once an open right-of-way. The rail corridor at Union and the yard at Davisville are much wider and a clear span is not practical.

    Like

  31. Steve said:“As for the East Metro Freeway, I doubt if many people in Scarborough today even know what that is. It’s important to remember that in that timeframe, much of northern Scarborough was still lightly populated.”

    Really am I actually that old? I thought this was not dropped until the 1990s (at least from official plans as opposed to what people thought could be built), at which point the NIMBY crowd – including Scarborough had killed it off. This I believe was about the same time (a couple of years) after the effective death of the Scarborough Expressway. Also Steve, was the Scarborough Expressway not effectively killed by action taken by local residents at the OMB, as opposed to direct opposition from any organized city opposition? That is the same type of local action that forced the RT route to be selected, as opposed to anything else?

    Steve: The expressway was killed by the City in response to local opposition due to the number of houses that would be demolished to allow its construction.

    The RT is a different situation in that it would fit physically within the originally proposed corridor, but this would have put it right beside existing housing. Residents along the old Canadian Northern corridor objected, and the alternate route now used by the RT was built instead. Robert Wightman and I had a hand in proposing that alignment given that it was clear the Canadian Northern route was a non-starter. At that point it was still going to be an LRT line at grade including through STC.

    Like

  32. P.S. sometimes I think those who actually push on a NIMBY basis actually end up doing the city as a whole a favor. I am reasonably comfortable in saying that Toronto would have been better off spending that money (expressway) on improved transit capacity. Unfortunately that has not come to pass, as that was something that was perceived as being able to wait.

    Like

  33. Joe M. said:

    “Because of the Political chaos where we can only address one problem at a time I really believe the subway extension is by far the best choice on the table for Scarborough residents. Years down the road local BRT/LRT routes can be added if & when traffic forces politicians to go back to the drawing board and play games. Until then efficient, attractive access for everyone in Scarborough will be available to get in and out of the core on the TTC. One problem solved the other can wait.”

    The thing is, that we should be able to see a BRT & LRT network as a single “Scarborough” proposal. However, yes there is the overwhelming temptation to try and break it down, and deliver one thing at a time. However, I would also be concerned about the climate surrounding RER/ST/SSE. Where the presence of ST too close to the initial SSE proposed route opens this up.

    What we really need to do as voters, is be better about seeing both the possibility of incremental change, and the notion of relatively complete packages. I would never consider a BRT in Gatineau a complete Scarborough solution, it would help with allowing the existing north south bus routes return to north south, however, it would primarily serve those east west trips. It might make sense to find a way to create a link to STC, but it would be essentially a way of supporting a couple of major destinations with quick feeder routes (UTSC for instance) and creating a quick trip for eastern Scarborough to subway. It does help local circulation with Scarborough, mostly in that it would permit local bus routes to be shorter, less distorted and therefore more frequent. Scarborough is simply too large a land mass to be served by a single route, including subway extension. Hence -get a package for the 3.8 billion that provides multiple routes, including this BRT to support the outer reaches. Honestly for Morningside to core, the BRT would be a faster route than a subway extension. Also really there needs to be fare reform for GO, as this would be a much more express trip, and should be had for only a couple of dollars more – not more than doubling the cost.

    Like

  34. Why I do not get is all of this stuff about Scarborough being underserved by transit when compared to Etobicoke or North York.

    North York has the Yonge subway since the 70s and then the Sheppard Subway – which benefits Scarborough bus riders.

    The west end of North York had little north of Yorkdale until recently.

    Etobicoke (home of the former Mayor) on the other hand, has a Bloor Subway that ends in the middle of nowhere really – it doesn’t even end at Sherway Gardens which makes more sense as a “node” than Scarbough Town Centre does… I never got why Ford wasn’t pushing for Etobicoke subway extensions instead.

    Like

  35. Steve said:

    Steve: The geometry problem of the curve radius needed for the DVP/Gardiner link and the location of the rail corridor pretty much dictates where things have to be if the curve will be taken at full highway speeds

    I estimate that the existing curve is a 300m radius. If you started a similar curve near the Old Eastern Ave Bridge, with a 5% incline, you can pass over the Kingston subdivision at its thinnest, then thread the needle between the HO substation and the Don Yard (footprint might impact the Don Yard parking, but not the consist storage).

    Steve: In round numbers, it is 400m from Eastern Avenue to the rail corridor. On a 5% grade, that is an elevation change of 20m (actually less when allowance for transitional vertical curves is included) and so, yes, in theory you could get over the rail corridor. However, 5% is not a desirable gradient for an expressway especially immediately adjacent to a curve (the east to north) where someone would come around the turn and then have a blind spot over the rim of the downgrade. You would also lose the ability to connect with the Don Roadway which will be more important as the First Gulf and other nearby sites develop. You also have not addressed the problem of the Toronto Water facility east of Cherry.

    Like

  36. Brian Graff | May 13, 2015 at 3:38 pm

    Why I do not get is all of this stuff about Scarborough being underserved by transit when compared to Etobicoke or North York.

    North York has the Yonge subway since the 70s and then the Sheppard Subway – which benefits Scarborough bus riders.

    The west end of North York had little north of Yorkdale until recently.

    Etobicoke (home of the former Mayor) on the other hand, has a Bloor Subway that ends in the middle of nowhere really – it doesn’t even end at Sherway Gardens which makes more sense as a “node” than Scarbough Town Centre does… I never got why Ford wasn’t pushing for Etobicoke subway extensions instead.

    I agree there are many areas of the City which are under-served. Especially the poor pockets. Go figure?

    It shouldn’t be about any one Borough that has it worse. It should be about how many areas are neglected & the sad attempts at integrating them fairly into the network. And no thanks to the extended car commute combined with a poorly designed, poorly funded, patch work LRT network which helps some, inconveniences some & leaves many on the short end of the 3 tiered grid.

    If you want to compare who has it worse this map will tell you all you need to know.

    It’s not just Scarborough, but it sure is a whole lot of Scarborough.

    Like

  37. Brian Graff:

    “I never got why Ford wasn’t pushing for Etobicoke subway extensions instead.”

    Simply put, Ford assumed that Etobicoke would vote for him no matter what. That’s why he made no effort to bribe them.

    Like

  38. Nick L:

    Simply put, Ford assumed that Etobicoke would vote for him no matter what. That’s why he made no effort to bribe them.

    That can’t be right – it implies Rob Ford used logic.

    Joe M – I was expecting the map of “transit deserts”

    The map projecting Toronto to 2025 is a little misleading – there are many area in Agincourt and north-west Scarborough where there are wealthy suburban streets (Huntingwood etc.) or condos (Bridlewood) but a few apartment buildings that were once middle class under rent control have been bringing the average down.

    Like

  39. btgraff said:

    “The map projecting Toronto to 2025 is a little misleading – there are many area in Agincourt and north-west Scarborough where there are wealthy suburban streets (Huntingwood etc.) or condos (Bridlewood) but a few apartment buildings that were once middle class under rent control have been bringing the average down.”

    The issue will be to what degree do people who can move, because it better enables their commute. The 2025 map, does not reflect a post Transit City map, but rather a realistic forecast of what will be (or rather not), and the impact of it. If the gridlock continues, we will see that be the increasing reality. If you do not have a high income – you will not be able to afford to live near the relatively rare good transit access, and get priced off the mainline bus routes that run directly to subway, except at the outer ends, where you are remarkably subject to congestion.

    I believe that the push to build subway to serve needs into lower demand areas, is preempting the construction of a broader network. The Star’s quote – has it basically right

    “That doesn’t mean building rapid transit lines into areas that can’t support them. “It’s not about a subway to everywhere,” said Hertel. “We’re saying the right service, the right technology, the right price to cater to the needs of those who need it the most.”

    If you had BRTs in say Markham road, Kipling, and the Gatineau corridor {Morningside to Kennedy Stations}, LRT on Finch from Yonge to the Airport (Malton GO?) LRT on Sheppard – to and down – Morningside, LRT from Kennedy through STC to at least Markham Road. EC-LRT to Renforth Gateway and RER in Lakeshore, Stouffville and Kitchener, improving local service, to provide quick reliable, broad access would be a question of running appropriate bus service, and actually managing the routes (another issue the Star clearly points to), and traffic, would no longer be a good excuse for poor schedule/headway management. The broad network needs to be built, instead of subway, and RER needs to be integrated. In the near future new subway needs to be reserved for network connectivity, and capacity issues. However, the entire network, needs to see progress now, and is actually something we could afford to build (or rather cannot afford not to).

    Like

  40. Joe M said:

    If you want to compare who has it worse this map will tell you all you need to know.

    Gah, I hate that politically biased claptrap of an infographic. First of all, it’s based on change income prior to amalgamation compared to just after. Second of all, it’s 15 years out of date. Third, this new rendering (rather than the original) ignores the excluded sections of the City and lumps it into “City 2”. Fourth, why pick 1971 and 2001 (and call them 1970 and 2005)? Fifth, average income is a very bad figure to use, because it’s not a real number, median income is much more representative. This is the biggest distortion to the picture as 1970 was a time of very low income inequality and 2005 was a time of very high income inequality. Sixth, the majority of the change can be explained by amalgamation, when Toronto changed from a mostly middle class city to a city of extremities.

    If you wanted to repeat the experiment with much less distortion of the underlying truth, try 2000 compared to next year’s census update. If you want an actual map of income try:

    Low Income
    Median Family Income

    Like

Comments are closed.