Toronto's Crumbling Elevated Expressway: Repair or Remove?

As the full extent of the instability of Toronto's elevated Gardiner Expressway, and the city's apparent cover-up of the information, becomes clear, the new chief planner has weighed in on what the priorities should be in addressing the problem.
December 19, 2012, 2pm PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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George Socka

The signs of the Gardiner's fialing health have been raining down on Toronto's streets for some time. After at least seven incidents of falling-concrete this year, and a recent Toronto Star investigation that showed "the crumbling highway is in a state far worse than city staff previously told the public," the city's new chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat has waded into the debate over the future of Toronto's main commuter artery, reports Robyn Doolittle.

With reports indicating that, "[w]ithout half a billion dollars in emergency repair work to the deck, nearly half of the elevated portions of the Gardiner could be structurally unsafe within a decade," Keesmaat said "she is opposed to spending massive sums on infrastructure focused on 'moving more cars,'” and instead, "believes tax dollars are better spent on improving public transit." 

"Keesmaat, who has been in the job less than six months, said she wants to immediately resume an environmental assessment that was quietly shelved after Mayor Rob Ford’s election," notes Doolittle. "That study was supposed to provide a cost-benefit analysis of tearing down versus maintaining the structure."

Writing in Spacing Toronto, Ken Greenberg sees the deterioration of the expressway as an opportunity for the city to engage in a serious discussion about "a more sustainable balance of mobility options."

"At a certain point," he says, "the cost and difficulty of maintaining or in our case entirely rebuilding these structures raises the question of whether it makes sense to keep them. Rather than replacement, the decaying infrastructure can be modified or altered to become one that favours more environmentally sound means of getting around harmonizes with a more productive city form."

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Published on Tuesday, December 18, 2012 in The Toronto Star
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