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Urban Planning and Development Services

January 25, 1999

To:Urban Environment and Development Committee

From:Commissioner of Urban Planning and Development Services and Commissioner of Works and Emergency Services

Subject:Proposal to "Bury" the F.G. Gardiner Expressway Below Grade Between Dufferin Street and the Don River: Concept Review


The purpose of this report is to provide preliminary comments on a private sector initiative recently put forward by the Canadian Highways International Corporation (CHIC) to replace the elevated section of the Gardiner Expressway with a new, below-grade, toll highway.

Source of Funds:

This report has no immediate funding implications.


That, in light of the concerns raised in this joint report from the Commissioner of Urban Planning and Development Services and the Commissioner of Works and Emergency Services, the Urban Environment and Development Committee be requested to provide guidance to staff regarding the direction to follow with respect to the proposal to reconstruct the F.G. Gardiner Expressway below grade.


The F. G. Gardiner Expressway was built between 1955-64. It is 12 km in length, with 8 km on an elevated structure, and carries around 200,000 vehicles a day (see Map 1). The central and west sections of the elevated structure have undergone extensive rehabilitation over the last 11 years at a cost of over $60 million.

Since the Gardiner Expressway was completed in 1964, the area through which it passes has changed considerably. Most notable has been the migration of heavy industry from the Central Waterfront area and the relocation of the rail freight yards to the suburbs. As a result large areas of land have been freed-up for other more intensive, diverse and urbane uses, including residential development. As this land use transformation process has progressed, the elevated section of the Gardiner Expressway has become increasingly incompatible with surrounding land use activities and the City's long-term vision for the Central Waterfront. However, in the central section, the presence of the Gardiner Expressway has been increasingly masked by high-rise development.

Consequently, over the last twenty years, there have been numerous proposals to mitigate the negative impacts of the central, elevated section of the Gardiner Expressway. These include bringing it down to grade in the form of a grand boulevard or burying it completely in a tunnel either underground or under the lake. In 1986, the former City of Toronto established the Task Force on the Gardiner/Lake Shore Corridor to look at more incremental methods to ameliorate the impacts of the expressway corridor, including changes to the ramp system as well as streetscape and other urban design improvements. The Task Force continues to promote and advocate such changes.

The most comprehensive and detailed review of the Gardiner Expressway issue was undertaken in 1991 on behalf of the Royal Commission On The Future of the Toronto Waterfront by a multi-disciplinary team of consultants and government staff. The study findings can be found in the Royal Commission's "Report 15: Toronto Central Waterfront Transportation Corridor Study" (Nov.1991) and this report, hereafter referred to as the Royal Commission report, remains a key reference document for any analysis of reconfiguring the Gardiner Expressway. The report characterized the planning challenge for the Central Waterfront as that of trying to strike the appropriate balance between the area's competing roles as a viable transportation CORRIDOR and as a desirable urban PLACE where a diversity of land uses and activities can flourish.

The general feeling is that, in the past, too great an emphasis has been given to the area's role as a CORRIDOR and that remedial action, such as some form of reconfiguring the Gardiner Expressway, is required to help restore the attractiveness of the Central Waterfront as a PLACE and to facilitate the transformation process that is already partly underway in the area. The success of any such reconfiguration process in improving land use conditions should be evaluated against the following criteria:

-does it substantially reduce the physical and visual barrier that separates the downtown from its waterfront and knit the two closer together by enabling better north-south connections for all modes of travel?

-does it create new development opportunities by freeing-up land from transportation purposes and making the area more attractive for higher intensity, more urbane uses such as housing and recreation?

-does it facilitate the development of an inter-connected greenspace system throughout the Central Waterfront area?

-does it allow for the better urban design of buildings and public spaces that would enhance the Central Waterfront's livability and overall quality as a place?

Conceptually, there are three basic ways of reconfiguring the Gardiner Expressway:

-Retain and ameliorate;

-Replace, or


In assessing these three options as presented in the Royal Commission report, the former Metro and City of Toronto administrations decided to pursue the retain and ameliorate option. Funding considerations eliminated the replacement option and the risk of severe traffic disruption ruled out the removal option.

Obviously, simply removing the Gardiner Expressway offers the potential for the greatest land use benefits but also runs the highest risk of swinging the pendulum too far in favour of the Central Waterfront as a PLACE. However, even with the expressway gone, the rail corridor and the six-lane Lake Shore Boulevard remain as substantial physical and visual barriers.

If reconfiguring options are limited to those that substantially replace the road capacity of the former expressway, then it becomes a challenge to find an alternative road network design that yields significant land use improvements over the pre-existing condition while maintaining existing levels of transportation service. Putting the replacement roadway below grade may not solve the problem. Tunnel and trench designs impose barriers of their own making, particularly at those locations where access ramps are required to connect the below-grade expressway to the local north-south streets and at the terminal or transition points where the expressway returns to the surface.

2.The CHIC Proposal:

The most recent proposal for reconfiguring the Gardiner Expressway is a private sector initiative put forward by the Canadian Highways International Corporation (CHIC), the company that built the Highway 407 toll road to the north of the City. The CHIC proposal falls into the "replace" category and seeks to substitute the elevated, central section of the Gardiner Expressway with a below-grade facility of similar or improved capacity and to charge a toll for the new road to cover costs and generate an economic return on the investment. The reconfiguration proposed by CHIC is illustrated on Map 2. CHIC have presented an outline of their proposal to the civic administration and have invited comment on the general concept. This report responds to the CHIC initiative.

To this point, the CHIC proposal has been presented in conceptual terms and the details are known only in outline form because it is expected that, if the City should decide to support the idea of lowering the Gardiner Expressway through a public private partnership initiative, there would be a "request for proposals" and a competitive bidding process would ensue. As initially presented, the CHIC proposal addressed the elevated section of the expressway between Dufferin Street (where it begins to rise) to a point east of Yonge Street. However, in recent discussions with CHIC and its planning consultants, the IBI Group, it has been made clear that the proposal could be expanded to include a second section of the expressway east of Yonge Street over to the Don River. This section east of Yonge Street could be tackled either at the same time as the section to the west or as a subsequent second phase after the west and central sections have been placed below grade. Obviously, by replacing the entire elevated section of expressway from Dufferin Street to the Don River (along with the planned removal of the section east of the Don River) the visual presence of the Gardiner Expressway would be diminished across the whole waterfront area. The CHIC proposal can be examined in three sections (see Map 2).

(a)The Dufferin Street to Yonge Street Section

The replacement of the elevated expressway between Dufferin and Yonge Streets is treated in the CHIC proposal in two parts:

(i)Between Dufferin Street and Spadina Avenue the expressway could simply be lowered to grade, though the preference is to take the expressway one level below grade to enable the north-south streets (Strachan Avenue, Bathurst Street and Spadina Avenue) to pass over it. The below grade expressway could be decked over at certain points to create areas of open space that could include bike paths and walkways.

(ii)Between Spadina Avenue and Yonge Street the below grade expressway would run beneath the eastbound and westbound lanes of Lake Shore Boulevard which would be cantilevered over the expressway with a centre gap for ventilation and light. The below grade expressway would not connect directly to north-south surface streets. The ramp connections would be made to Lake Shore Boulevard and it would be from Lake Shore Boulevard that turning movements at at-grade, signalized intersections would be made.

Overall, the design requirements are for a six-lane, below grade expressway and an eight-lane (divided) Lake Shore Boulevard through the cantilevered section. Less details are known for the section east of Yonge Street, but the same principle of minimizing the design impacts of connecting the expressway to the grid of surface streets by using Lake Shore Boulevard as an intermediary link would be applied.

The section of the project from Dufferin Street to Yonge Street is estimated to take six years to complete . To minimize disruption, it would be accomplished in stages. The first three years would be devoted to increasing arterial road capacity to establish alternative routes and detours in preparation of the subsequent expressway dismantling phase. The most notable changes in the first phase would be building the Front Street Extension (from Dufferin Street to Bathurst Street across the rail corridor), the westward extension of Bremner Boulevard and the introduction of a number of measures to increase the capacity of Lake Shore Boulevard, including additional turn lanes and the possibility of reversible lanes. The complete package of road changes for this section is expected to cost around $1 billion.

(b)Yonge Street to Don River Section

As noted, the second section from Yonge Street to the Don River could either be undertaken at the same time as the section west of Yonge Street or follow as a second phase. Doing the whole thing at once is potentially more costly, complicates the task of finding detour routes for traffic during construction and runs a greater chance of creating conflicts with plans for the 2008 Olympics, should the City win the bid. If the section east of Yonge Street is dealt with as a second phase, it would take a further three to four years to complete. There are no cost estimates for the section east of Yonge Street.

(c)Humber Bridges to Proposed Front Street Extension

The CHIC proposal also implies a third section of the project which entails the widening to four lanes in each direction of the at-grade section of the Gardiner Expressway from the Humber bridges to the point where the planned Front Street Extension begins in the vicinity of Dufferin Street. The Humber River bridges have been designed to accommodate a possible fourth lane if required. The fourth lane would balance the upstream lane capacities of the Gardiner Expressway with the capability of the downstream road system to deliver vehicles to and from the downtown. The fourth lane, by relieving a potential bottleneck situation, would improve arterial road service to the downtown.

CHIC claim their proposal will improve overall road accessibility and capacity to and from the downtown. The new, below-grade expressway, along with the Front Street Extension, changes to Lake Shore Boulevard and the fourth lane on the Gardiner will provide for better traffic distribution and easier access across the rail corridor. CHIC feel that the improved road conditions that their proposal is expected to bring will be a major factor in gaining public acceptance of tolls.

CHIC would design the new Gardiner Expressway as a "... state-of-the-art, all electronic toll highway." With full replacement of the elevated Gardiner Expressway (from Dufferin Street to the Don River), tolls would be charged on vehicles using the new, below-grade expressway from both the west and the east. At an average toll per vehicle trip on the expressway in the range of $1.50 to $2.00, CHIC estimates sufficient revenues would be generated to over costs and produce an economic return on the capital investment. By charging tolls, CHIC claims there would be no reliance on tax dollars or government guarantees.

The following two sections of this report discuss the key issues raised by the CHIC proposal.

3.Specific Issues:


To be truly effective in improving the Waterfront area as a place, the entire elevated section of the Gardiner Expressway, from Dufferin Street to the Don River, needs to be taken down and replaced below grade. Replacing just the section west of Yonge Street really only accomplishes half the job. However, tackling the whole elevated section significantly increases the scope, complexity and cost of the project. For example, a major concern in the east section is the cost of taking the new expressway under the Don River and connecting it to the Don Valley Parkway.

If the entire elevated section is dismantled at the same time it may prove more difficult to find alternative detour routes and the potential risk for major traffic disruption during the period of construction could be further increased. Also, if there are Olympic facilities to be built in the Waterfront area, there could be conflicts with the road reconstruction program. For these reasons, it might be better to replace the Yonge Street to Don River section of the Gardiner Expressway as a separate, second phase. Phasing would allow for a less intensive but more extended period of construction and traffic disruption.

More work needs to be done on establishing the scope and feasibility of the project particularly since the CHIC proposal has, up to this point, concentrated mainly on the west and central elevated sections of the Gardiner Expressway only.

(b)Land Use

There needs to be a clearer understanding and measurement of how effectively the CHIC proposal meets the four planning criteria referred to earlier:

-reduction of the barrier effect

-freeing-up of new land for development

-enhancement of the open space system

-creation of urban design opportunitie

The immediate impact of removing the elevated section of the Gardiner Expressway is to eliminate the eyesore that many feel it represents. However, the rail viaduct and Lake Shore Boulevard would remain as visual and physical barriers. Through the central section, between Spadina Avenue and Yonge Street, the CHIC proposal envisages an eight-lane, divided Lake Shore Boulevard cantilevered over the new, six-lane expressway running below. Also, buildings have been designed around the presence of the Gardiner Expressway and would remain as a testament to its former existence should the elevated roadway be taken down. There are major land use design issues that need to be examined more closely. There is a need to incorporate these design concerns into a broader, unifying, vision for the entire Waterfront corridor.


A critical challenge presented by the project is the ability to minimize traffic disruption during construction. As noted above, the larger the scope of the project the greater the challenge becomes. The key to meeting this challenge is developing a phasing strategy that enables temporary detour routes and other road changes to be put in place to provide replacement capacity while sections of the Gardiner Expressway are being dismantled and replaced below grade. CHIC's aim is to maintain, during the period of construction, a level of traffic service comparable to that which is currently achieved when one lane of the Gardiner Expressway is closed for maintenance during the summer. However, there are many, particularly downtown summer maintenance is not acceptable and discussions are on-going in Transportation Services to look at ways to reduce the number of "lane-loss" days.

Most is known about the phasing strategy for the section between Dufferin and Yonge Streets where the early construction of the Front Street Extension and changes to Lake Shore Boulevard are key elements. Reliance is also placed on the westerly extension of Bremner Boulevard and the construction of a temporary detour road through the west end of the Railway Lands which can only be achieved while these lands remain undeveloped. Few details of the phasing strategy for the section east of Yonge Street have been developed yet.

The potential for a six to ten-year period of major traffic disruption (and possible conflict with other building projects and activities) in the Waterfront area poses a huge risk that City staff are anxious to minimize. These delays and disruptions would impact on both the regional and local traffic using the Gardiner/Lake Shore corridor. Consequently, staff are continuing discussions with CHIC and the IBI Group to seek greater assurances on these matters. Examples like that of Boston, where the costs of burying the central arterial have tripled to over $11 billion and the life of the project has doubled from seven to fourteen years, are certainly to be avoided.

(d)Traffic Operations

An important issue concerns the overall impact of the project, when completed, on traffic operations in the Waterfront corridor. As already noted, CHIC claim their project will improve road access to and from the downtown. It is anticipated that the combination of the new, below grade expressway, the Front Street Extension and reconfigured Lake Shore Boulevard will enable a better distribution of traffic accessing downtown streets, particularly for traffic to and from the west where existing-traffic volumes and congestion levels are highest. CHIC have expressed a strong preference for exercising the option to add a fourth lane in each direction on the Gardiner Expressway between the Humber Bridges and the Front Street Extension to increase road capacity. By improving accessibility and increasing road capacity to the downtown, CHIC believe that motorists will generally find the imposition of a toll much more acceptable . They will be paying a charge but receiving a better level of service in return.

The City's current planning policies oppose undertaking measures that would encourage peak-period auto travel into the downtown and place reliance on expanded transit service to handle such trip increases. At this stage, it is not clear to what extent the marketing and financial success of the CHIC proposal are dependent on the appeal of providing motorists with additional (as opposed to enhanced replacement) road capacity. If a key part of the CHIC proposal hinges on replacing the existing expressway with an even bigger one, albeit in a less obtrusive form, then the City would have to seriously consider how this impacts on its transportation planning objectives and the land use goal of better balancing the corridor versus place roles of the Waterfront area. This is an area where further clarification and direction are currently required.

Another important traffic consideration is the diversion of traffic from the new expressway to other roads as a result of charging tolls. Obviously, the higher the toll the more traffic will divert from the expressway onto other roads that provide a free, substitute route. There is also the risk that cost overruns on the project will be reflected in higher tolls which could lead to undesirable levels of traffic being diverted onto public, City streets. It is not clear what level of control the City would be able to exert over the structuring and level of the toll charges.


A below-grade design raises issues of technical feasibility, including concerns that the new expressway would have to negotiate:

(i)twelve-foot diameter storm sewers just west of Fort York and under Portland Street;

(ii)a high voltage electrical line under Strachan Avenue;

(iii)a filtered water intake to the John Street pumping station;

(iv)a streetcar line running under lower Bay Street;

(v)a streetcar loop on the north side of the Exhibition Grounds; and

(vi)the Don River

The engineering treatments to address these problems are made more difficult and costly because the depressed expressway would be built through an area of fill and much of it could be below lake level. In addition, provision would have to be made to pump rain water and melted snow from the depressed expressway and to provide for groundwater drainage from areas north of the expressway to the lake.

All these engineering challenges can be solved at a cost. However, there may come a point when these costs bring the financial viability of the project into serious question. There is a limit to the extent that cost increases can be passed on in the form of higher tolls. CHIC have estimated that the cost of the project from Dufferin to Yonge Streets is around $1 billion and no estimates have been made for costs east of Yonge Street. With a project of this size and complexity, the risks of cost overruns and delays can be substantial. Staff need to look more closely at the overall question of project feasibility.


The exact tolling strategy for the project has yet to be determined. If the entire elevated section of the Gardiner Expressway is replaced, then tolls would be levied on all vehicles using the new, below grade expressway from both the west (Humber River) and the east (Don River). Initially, the project was premised on charging drivers from the west an average toll of $1.50 to $2.00 to finance the cost of dismantling the Dufferin to Yonge section. There is no detailed explanation of how this price range was calculated or how it might need to change if the project is expanded to include the Yonge Street to Don River section and tolls levied on vehicles from the east.

Drivers may either choose to pay the toll, seek another route, switch to transit or forego making the trip. Although the burden of tolls initially falls on drivers choosing to use the new expressway, these costs might, to varying degrees, be passed on in the form of higher wages to downtown workers and/or lower downtown land values. Tolls will impact on drivers from within and beyond the City. For example, in May, 1986 the former City of Toronto undertook a licence plate survey of vehicles on the Gardiner Expressway which revealed that, during the 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. peak period, 30% of traffic crossing the Bathurst Street screenline and using the on and off ramps between Spadina Avenue and Sherbourne Street originated within the former Metro boundary, mainly from the Etobicoke area, and this percentage was even higher for through trips. The level (or price) at which tolls are set is a major determinant of three key factors:

-public acceptance

-diverted traffic

-impact on the downtown economy

These impacts could be softened by the extent to which both road and transit service levels elsewhere in the Waterfront corridor are enhanced. CHIC believes its project would be more attractive if combined with adding the fourth lane on the Gardiner Expressway between the Humber bridges and the planned Front Street Extension and strongly urge City staff to support this increase in road capacity to serve the downtown. Similarly, if transit service in the corridor could be substantially enhanced to provide an attractive, alternative means of accessing downtown, concerns over the introduction of expressway tolls might be allayed.

If user charges, in the form of road tolls, prove to be an acceptable revenue source then the City itself might wish to consider introducing tolls along with the possibility of directing toll revenues towards the funding of public transit. In this manner, road tolls could be made an instrument of public policy rather than a mere financial tool.

City staff need to know more about CHIC's tolling strategy to assess both its impact on the general public and its role in determining the financial viability of this private sector venture. With respect to the latter point, it is not clear, at this stage, that all the financial risk can be transferred from the City to the private sector and CHIC's claim that the project can be undertaken without any tax dollars or government guarantees requires verification. Understandably, the proponents are not about to reveal all the financial details before the project has gained any form of endorsement or approval, but at some point these details will have a significant bearing on the City's position on the project.

4.General Issues:


To this point, the CHIC proposal has been looked at principally in engineering terms with less attention being given to the positive city-building opportunities the project may bring. It is not enough to simply imagine what the Waterfront would be like without the elevated Gardiner Expressway; there needs to be a clearer vision of what can be achieved in its place. Apart from the obvious visual improvement that results from putting the expressway below grade, there should be substantial land use benefits as well as possible road and transit improvements. It is the city-building opportunities of redeveloping the corridor and re-uniting the City with its waterfront that provide the land use benefits against which the costs and risks of the expressway replacement project can be measured.

Ideally, a redevelopment plan for the Gardiner/Lake Shore Corridor needs to be formulated based on wide community input and discussion. There needs to be a better understanding of what the potential land use benefits might be and how these benefits would be distributed between the public and private sectors. For example, there is the expectation that putting the expressway below grade will create considerable areas for open and green space purposes to be enjoyed by the general public. If the overall objective of any scheme to reconfigure the Gardiner/Lake Shore Corridor is to help restore the balance of the waterfront's competing roles of CORRIDOR and PLACE, then it can only be properly evaluated if the full land use implications of the scheme are understood. This is currently not the case with the CHIC proposal.

A major infrastructure project, such as the replacement of the Gardiner Expressway, also needs to be looked at in a general, city-wide context to see how it fits into the City's planning priorities and strategic vision for the future. The City is about to launch the development of the first Official Plan for the new City. The Plan's development will be an inclusive process that seeks to solicit a wide range of public opinion, views and advice on how the City should continue to evolve and the goals it should strive to achieve. The policies of the new Official Plan will be directed towards maximizing city-building opportunities that enhance the City's overall quality of life. The setting of transportation priorities and major decisions on transportation infrastructure investments should be guided by the policy framework of the new Plan. Proposals, such as that presented by CHIC, should be assessed in this new framework.

(b)Timing, Approval And Public Participation

There are concerns related to the timing and scheduling of the project. CHIC have indicated that the entire project (from Dufferin Street to the Don River) could be completed within six years which means, depending on the start date, that it could be finished by the year 2008 when the City hopes to host the Olympic Games. The schedule would be less pressing if the east section were undertaken as a separate phase to be completed after the Games if they are awarded to the City. The six-year timeframe appears extremely tight and for a project of this scope and complexity there is a considerable risk of disruptions and delays.

Many aspects of the proposal still require further study and a great many agreements and approvals have to be discussed, negotiated, settled and put in place before contracts can be let. Other undertakings of this scope and nature have taken up to a year to negotiate the final agreement between client and constructor/operator in order to fully address all the benefits and risks. Also, there needs to be time to benefit from public reaction to the project through a full and on-going public participation process.

Once underway, many delays and unforeseen difficulties, such as land expropriations and engineering design challenges, could arise during the projected six-year construction period. Also, if the City is successful in its bid for the 2008 Summer Olympics, then any threat of delays to the expressway project could create critical situations that impose forced compromises on the City. It is essential to take the necessary time to answer all the questions and do it right. As such, it is considered unrealistic to contemplate starting a project of this magnitude by January, 2000.

(c)Downtown Competitiveness

Another area of uncertainty is the impact that the CHIC and other similar proposals might have on the competitiveness of the downtown. There are three key impacts to consider:

-the imposition of tolls

-changes in road and transit accessibility

-disruption during construction

Preliminary estimates suggest an average toll per trip of $2 would divert about 15% of traffic from the expressway to other streets such as Lake Shore Boulevard, Front, King, Queen and Dundas Streets. The higher the toll the more trips will switch to other routes and modes or simply be foregone. Those choosing to pay the toll and remain on the expressway will feel the benefits of using the facility at least equal the costs and many will feel it is worth more than the price. Those displaced from the expressway by tolls will find themselves taking less attractive, substitute routes. However, both sets of users (those that use the toll road and those that do not) may find themselves worse off than when the Gardiner Expressway was available free. As noted before, the extent to which this proves true depends on the level of the toll, the extent to which other road and transit routes in the corridor are improved and the degree to which toll costs might be passed on by such means as workers demanding higher wages for having to commute downtown. Assessing the impact of tolls is a complicated task.

Traffic displaced from the expressway by tolling will add to congestion on those streets that serve to handle this overflow. Such increases in congestion will be borne by existing users of these streets and could impact on the viability of local transit services and businesses. Again, the extent to which this proves the case depends on what other accompanying road and transit improvements are made in the corridor to off-set the demands of traffic diverted from the new expressway. This returns to the CHIC argument that the additional road facilities provided in its proposal, such as the Front Street Extension, improvements to Lake Shore Boulevard and the fourth lane on the Gardiner, are critical enhancements to the road system that will help sell or increase the overall acceptability of the toll expressway project.

CHIC estimates its project would disrupt traffic for a minimum six-year construction period which might extend to a maximum of ten years if the west and east sections of the project are phased. The danger with such extended periods of disruption is that they can leave an even longer lasting impression of traffic chaos that may permanently deter some trip-makers from travelling downtown. CHIC claims to limit the impact of construction disruption to the equivalent of that experienced today by a one-lane closing of the Gardiner Expressway which already happens every summer. Nevertheless, City staff need more details of the phasing and detour plans to be assured that this is the case and that the construction of the new expressway does not conflict with other major developments and activities that may be expected in the Waterfront area during the six to nine-year period.

Overall, there remains unease that tolls on the new expressway could negatively impact the downtown economy particularly if there are not accompanying plans to significantly enhance downtown transit services as an attractive, alternative means of access.


The CHIC proposal directs toll revenues to fund the costs of constructing the new, below-grade expressway and other associated road infrastructure improvements such as the proposed Front Street Extension. The proposal mentions the fact that "... the project would also be developed in such a way as to ensure linkage with parallel public transit initiatives" but gives no indication of any direct funding support for transit. Indeed, the CHIC proposal envisages developing an enhanced road system in the waterfront corridor to promote the appeal of the project. This emphasis on enhancing the road system runs counter to the City's current Official Plan policies which look exclusively to transit as the means of accommodating the growth in downtown commuter travel.

One of the results of recent discussions with the proponents has been to give more consideration to including a strong transit component in the proposal and make it more supportive of existing planning policies. For example, if it is decided to go ahead with the fourth lane on the Gardiner Expressway, it might prove beneficial to reserve its use for public transit and other high-occupancy vehicles. A complementary idea is to establish large, strategic parking garages at the east and west approaches to the toll expressway where motorists could park cheaply and transfer to transit vehicles for the final leg of the journey into the downtown. Transit vehicles could, perhaps, travel without charge or at a reduced rate on the new expressway. At this stage, however, it is not clear how effective such transit measures might be in providing an attractive alternative to the use of the auto far downtown commuting and other trips.

In terms of meeting future downtown travel demands, the former Metro and City of Toronto Official Plans relied on a twofold strategy: first, encourage more housing in the Central Area to reduce the need for long-distance commuting; and second, accommodate the remaining growth in peak-period trips from beyond the Central Area by improved transit services. It is commonly agreed that there is no acceptable means of meeting this long-term growth in trips by expanding the capacity of the road system serving the Central Area. In analysing future downtown transportation needs both the Royal Commission report (Nov.1991) and the Central Area Transportation Study report (Jan. 1996), stress the need to expand GO-rail services to meet the anticipated increases in commuter travel. In commenting on peak-period demands, the Royal Commission report notes:

Virtually all the increase in person trips into the Central Waterfront and Central Area will have to be handled by public transit, and the majority of this increase by GO Transit: about 85 per cent of the increase in travel is expected to be from regions outside Metro (p.55).

A key challenge for the City is to secure sufficient transit funding to provide the necessary levels of operating and capital subsides for the TTC and GO Transit. Currently, it is proving difficult to find sufficient capital funds to maintain the present transit system . At present, there are no identifiable funds available for capital expansion to meet the demands of future travel growth. The CHIC expressway proposal, of course, can do little to address this major transit funding issue and is not primarily designed to advance the City's pro-transit agenda and its environmental objective of reducing dependency on the automobile.

5.Next Steps:

The process for the approval and implementation of a project having the scope and complexity of the CHIC proposal is quite formidable and there are two particular steps that should be mentioned at this juncture: the Request For Proposals (RFP) and the Environmental Assessment (EA).

The RFP is prepared by the City and describes the project and establishes the conditions that the City expects any successful bid to meet. The RFP would also address such issues as timeframes, financial arrangements, the planning process and the criteria by which competing bids would be evaluated. The preparation of an RFP requires a considerable amount of preliminary analysis and many take several months to finalize. Many of the issues identified in this report would be reflected in the terms of an RFP. To achieve this, the City would need extensive legal, planning, engineering and financial advice and may also want to retain a process consultant to co-ordinate the effort and all this would come at considerable expense because of the specialized expertise required.

Proceeding to the RFP stage is a major step and, before doing so, the City needs to satisfy itself that the project is worthy of support at the conceptual level. There has to be a certain level of commitment to justify the time and expense on the City's part of developing an RFP and to give assurance to those in the private sector undertaking the considerable effort to bid on the project that is not just some trial balloon. The RFP may be preceded by a Request For Qualifications (RFQ) to establish there are eligible bidders on the project.

Generally, an RFP can be written in quite specific terms that lay-out all the requirements that bidders are to meet or it can be written in a more generalized format to elicit a more creative response from bidders. Much of the success of the project will be determined by how well the terms of the RFP are drafted and the subsequent evaluation of the bids. In this context, the current CHIC proposal has served to put the concept of replacing the elevated Gardiner Expressway with a below grade expressway on the table for consideration and in the hope that it might receive the City's endorsement to advance the RFP stage and the submitting of competitive bids.

There is common agreement that any project to reconfigure the Gardiner Expressway on the scale of the CHIC proposal should be subject to an EA. However, the EA process would likely need some tailoring in order to deal in an efficient and timely manner with such a complex proposal as CHIC's. Part of the public participation process could be included in the EA but there would remain a need for broader public input right from the initial stages of the project. Finally, enabling legislation from the Province may be required to permit tolls to be charged.


The CHIC proposal replaces the existing elevated Gardiner Expressway with a new, below grade facility that would substantially diminish the visual and physical presence of the expressway. The cost of replacing the entire section of the Gardiner Expressway from Dufferin Street to the Don River, including associated road projects such as the Front Street Extension, is unknown at this time. A figure of approximately $1 billion has been given for the Dufferin to Yonge section and it is claimed this cost could be met by charging a toll (of around $2 per trip) on the expressway and without the need for tax dollars or government guarantees. Costing for the other sections of the project has not been presented. The project faces many engineering challenges and would require careful staging to minimize traffic disruption during the six to ten year construction period.

The big question is do the anticipated benefits of the project justify the cost and risk involved?

The principal benefits are the removal of the visual eyesore of the elevated Gardiner Expressway, the land use or city-building opportunities that are opened-up by having the expressway below grade and other related transportation improvements the project may bring. However, even with the removal of the Gardiner Expressway, the rail corridor will remain in place, and the new road system that envisages a divided eight-lane Lake Shore Boulevard running atop the six-lane expressway could also continue to present something of a barrier in the central section.

To a large extent, the appeal of the project will be measured by its ability to create city-building opportunities through freeing-up lands for development and recreational purposes, and allowing the application of higher urban design standards throughout the corridor. To this point, the land use opportunities or planning vision for the project have not been fully developed and a complete picture of the benefits the project might bring has yet to emerge. The CHIC proposal has been presented in mainly engineering terms. This report has focussed on identifying the initial concerns raised by a project of such magnitude and complexity.

A result of applying tolls to the new expressway will be to divert trips onto other road and transit routes. CHIC feels that through making the other road changes contained in its proposal, such as the Front Street Extension, alterations to Lake Shore Boulevard and the fourth lane on the Gardiner, the road system will be enhanced to the point that it can accommodate vehicles displaced from the expressway and compensate for any negative impacts that tolls might have on the downtown economy. However, this approach runs counter to the City's existing Official Plan policies which seek to reduce dependancy on the automobile and look to transit as the only acceptable means of accommodating future, downtown trip growth. The CHIC proposal, understandably perhaps, does not address the City's critical need for additional transit funding and lends little support to the City's pro-transit and environmental agendas.

If our new City had $1 billion of additional funds to spend on transportation infrastructure at this time it seems unlikely that replacement of the Gardiner Expressway would be given first priority. Even with the private sector funding the construction costs of the Gardiner project, much time, effort and energy of the civic administration would be consumed by the project over the next several years and it would not proceed without public as well as private risk.

Until the questions raised in this report can be more fully answered, it is difficult to assess whether the concept of replacing the elevated Gardiner Expressway by a below grade expressway should be pursued further. It may be better to simply continue with the City's current retain and ameliorate strategy or it may be time to adopt a bolder approach. In presenting our concerns, we are also seeking the Committee's direction on where to take matters from here.

Contact Name

Rod McPhail, Director

Transportation Division



Reviewed by:

Paul J. BedfordVirginia M. West

Executive Director and Chief PlannerCommissioner of Urban Planning

City Planning Divisionand Development Services

Dave KaufmanBarry Gutteridge

Executive DirectorCommissioner of Works and Emergency

Works and Emergency ServicesServices

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