Toronto City Hall
100 Queen Street West
Canada M5H 2N2
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
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;
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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:
-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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
Rod McPhail, Director
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
(p:\1999\ug\uds\pln\ud991805.pln) - if