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Gardiner East environmental assessment continues

The City of Toronto and Waterfront Toronto say there are four possible options for the eastern section of the Gardiner Expressway, but a tunnel has been taken off the table.

The next phase of the environmental assessment for the Expressway was outlined, Tuesday, by deputy city manager John Livey, Waterfront CEO John Campbell and Waterfront planner Chris Glaisek.

The EA will determine the future of the Gardiner between Jarvis Street and approximately Leslie Street, The city says the four options include maintaining, improving, replacing or removing the elevated expressway.

However, burying the expressway would come with an estimated $2-billion cost, which Glaisek says is too much.

“The benefits and the negatives don’t make it worthwhile,” he said.

Maintaining the Gardiner would come at a cost of $235-million, from money which has already been set aside in the city’s capital budget.

Improving the expressway would cost between $420 and $630-million, while building a replacement – a new elevated expressway with a smaller footprint – would cost between $600 and $900-million.

Both the process of removing the existing road and rebuilding Lake Shore Blvd to eight or 10 lanes would come in between $240-million and $360-million.

Another idea would involve taking out the expressway’s two middle lanes, turning them into skylights for Lake Shore Blvd. below.

“We’re far from having a preferred option at this point,” Livey said. “We just think that a $2-billion plus that gets you one kilometre of tunnelled area and a kilometre of cuts into the ground is not likely to the best use of that much money.”

The public will have their say at an open forum on Wednesday. That meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. Click here for more.

The EA was shelved in late 2010 but resurrected by the budget committee earlier this year. The $4.41-million assessment is expected to be completed by spring 2015, and will need council and provincial approval before work can begin on the Gardiner.

Livey wants council to make a decision by spring 2014, but says he hopes it doesn’t turn into an election issue and become a large, divisive issue with council.

“My obligation is to try and put in place some decision,” he said.