TORONTO — The Gardiner Expressway has spent a precarious few years on the chopping block as one of Toronto’s most divisive political issues. In the end, Mayor John Tory was able to rally enough councillors to save the 1.7 kilometre stretch of raised highway on Toronto’s east end. Council narrowly backed the proposed “hybrid solution” for the roadway 24-21.
The hybrid solution will cost $919 million over the life of the project, while the alternative “boulevard solution” would have cost $461 million and freed up a significant strip of land for development. Proponents of the hybrid solution cited significant traffic problems if the roadway were torn down, while opponents, including all councillors representing the downtown core, argued against the high cost of resurfacing the aging infrastructure.
While the decision left many councillors bitterly disappointed and Mayor Tory limping away victoriously, the Ontario Trucking Association for one, is thrilled with the outcome.
“Today’s vote showed leadership and vision on the part of Mayor John Tory and supporting members of City Council,” said OTA’s Senior VP Stephen Laskowski. “All Ontarians, both those who reside inside and outside of the City of Toronto, will benefit from council’s decision to support the hybrid redesign, which is without question the safest, most efficient, and least disruptive option for city traffic and Toronto’s economy.”
While details have yet to be ironed out, the hybrid concept calls for establishing a continuous freeway link between the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway, while also maintaining east-west traffic flow to and from the downtown core.