Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Gardiner Expressway Report

Those who know me well know that I am politically leftist. I'm very very leftist. However, those who know me well also know that I am not a fan of David Miller. He hasn't really done anything in his term, and he has skewed the issues. Today, the top secret Gardiner Expressway report was released to the public, and Miller was on TV claiming that the report was never kept secret. I don't know what to say anymore.

Anyway, the report outlines three plans to deal with the downtown expressway, which the mayor says is a barrier to revitalizing the waterfront.
  1. Do nothing, and spend between $10 and $12 million per year to keep the highway in a state of good repair.
  2. Keep the structure, re-route Lake Shore Blvd and remove some of the on ramps to allow for development under the Gardiner structure. This could cost $500 million.
  3. Partially dismantle the elevated section of the highway. Some versions of this plan call for it to be half buried in a tunnel, while others call for it to remain elevated. What remains consistent is that the section of between Jarvis and Spadina would be two one-way streets, running at grade. This would cost between $1.4 and $2 billion, depending on how much ends up in a tunnel.
I personally don't see the Gardiner Expressway as a barrier to the waterfront, so the do nothing scheme seems to be the most logical from my point of view. The second plan would result in pedestrian intimidation when crossing Lake Shore Blvd, and would make the area under the Gardiner more inviting, especially at night, but because cars would have fewer on ramps and off ramps to use, congestion would increase. The third plan is simply idiotic. How can you ask pedestrians to cross two five-lane roads and call that "removing a barrier"? And guess which plan city council is leaning toward....

If we are going to bring the Gardiner down to ground level, we might as well put it even lower. By building a tunnel from the mouth of the Don River to Strachan Avenue, we can build a long greenbelt through downtown Toronto, complete with parks, walking and bike trails, urban forests, grassy meadows and even a canal like they've done in Korea. Garrison Creek would feed the canal, bringing it back to the surface from the rusty pipe it flows in now.

There's no reason why the Gardiner Expressway has to come down, but if we are going to embark on this project, we need to make sure we're making the right decisions, and not choosing something we'll regret later.



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