Update: see previous post – May 6, 2015 Gardiner removal has economic benefits, report says
Tearing down the eastern section of the Gardiner Expressway will increase eastbound rush hour commute times by as much as 10 minutes between the Humber area and the Don Valley Parkway, a new study suggests.
Travelling in the other direction won’t be as bad. The study, released Thursday, says westbound travel times along the Gardiner between the Don Valley Parkway and Park Lawn Road will also increase by an average of five and a half minutes if the eastern section is removed.
Removing the expressway from east of Jarvis Street to the Don Valley Parkway would cost the city between $23.3 and $36.3 million per year in lost productivity.
“Over 15 years you’re crossing the half a billion dollar mark,” study author Baher Abdulhai told CP24 Thursday afternoon.
The study was written by the University of Toronto’s Centre for Intelligent Transportation Systems, and commissioned by the Gardiner Coalition, which includes Redpath Sugar, CAA South Central Ontario, the Ontario Trucking Association, the Toronto Industry Association and the Toronto Financial District Business Improvement Association.
The study assumes the eastern Gardiner will be replaced by a broad eight lane boulevard, with new intersections at Lakeshore Boulevard and Cherry, Parliament and Sherbourne streets.
In one scenario, the study uses a “pedestrian-oriented” boulevard with a 60 km/h speed limit and pedestrian crossings every 100 seconds crossing all eight lanes at once.
In the second “traffic-oriented” boulevard scenario, the speed limit of the boulevard is 70 km/h with pedestrian crossings every 110 seconds with pedestrians crossing only four lanes at a time.
Congestion increases are much smaller using the second traffic-oriented scenario. The average eastbound travel time between Park Lawn Road and the DVP would increase only four and a half minutes using the traffic-oriented boulevard scenario when compared to today. And the average travel time westbound from the DVP to Park Lawn Road only increases by three minutes.
“It’s more information for councilors to take into consideration,” Don Valley East concillor Denzil Minnan-Wong said of the report. “Do you want to tear down the most significant piece of infrastructure in the city and significantly and substantially increase congestion?”
The study also says that regardless of what Toronto City Council decides to do with the Gardiner, there would be only a slight drop in vehicle traffic throughout the corridor.
The city has settled on two possibilities for the future of the Gardiner: removing the expressway from roughly Logan Avenue to Lower Jarvis and replacing it with an eight-lane boulevard, or a “hybrid” option that would see part of it taken down while maintaining a raised expressway link with the Don Valley Parkway.
Both boulevard options outlined by the University of Toronto study envision the city would build a simple surface link to the Don Valley Parkway from the new eight-lane extension of Lakeshore Boulevard, but not the “hybrid” option, which would still carry east-bound drivers from the Gardiner Expressway to the Don Valley Parkway on an elevated highway.
Council heard last month that a complete tear-down of the eastern Gardiner would cost $461 million, including maintenance costs over its expected 100-year life span. The hybrid option would cost $919 million including long-term maintenance.
Using traffic data from 2011 and 2012, the study found about 7,500 vehicles use the eastern portion of the Gardiner Expressway during rush hour.
“That’s a bit much for a surface street to handle if you also want to make it pedestrian-friendly,” Abdulhai said.
Council will decide how to proceed with the Expressway at a meeting on June 10, 2015.