Lane closures coming to Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway for next 3 years

Lane closures are coming to a stretch of the Gardiner for three years, making traffic getting into the city more congested.

The drive into and out of downtown Toronto along the Gardiner Expressway is about to get a whole lot tougher.

CityNews has confirmed that the City of Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway Strategic Rehabilitation Plan will resume this spring.

A city spokesperson told CityNews that the contract for the upcoming construction work was awarded in October 2023 and preliminary work is already underway.

“Work on the underside of the Gardiner Expressway began in November 2023,” a city spokesperson said.

“Starting as soon as late March 2024, depending on the weather, the Gardiner Expressway will be reduced to two lanes in each direction between Dufferin Street and Strachan Avenue.”

The City of Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway Strategic Rehabilitation Project is set to resume this spring, with lane restrictions to be in place as soon as late March. (CityNews/Kyle Hocking)

The planned work represents phase two of the six-phase rehabilitation project, which was approved by Toronto City Council between 2014 and 2016.

“The effects of age, heavy daily usage, weather and salt have made it necessary to undertake a major multi-year rehabilitation of the Expressway to keep it operational for the future,” a website for the project says.

“Because the Gardiner runs across several areas of the city, including established neighbourhoods, two river mouths and the city’s downtown core, a Strategic Rehabilitation Plan was created by the city to deal with this large, complex and important project.”

A Feb. 2023 map of the six-phase Gardiner rehabilitation project, which, at the time, had phase two finishing in 2026. (City of Toronto)

Phase one between Jarvis and Cherry streets was completed in April 2021, with phase two initially planned to begin later that year.

Multiple delays have led the city to adjust its timeline for the whole project from 2027 to 2030, but it now says even that target may not be met.

“This timeline will continue to be kept under review as implementation moves forward,” a city spokesperson told CityNews.

“Factors, many of which are impacting construction projects around the world, such as supply chain management, material cost and availability and skilled labour shortages, along with the need to coordinate construction across the city to minimize impacts, could all impact the timeline of the full Strategic Rehabilitation Plan.”

Construction on the Gardiner will be paused during the 2026 FIFA World Cup while nearby BMO Field hosts games as part of the tournament. (CityNews/Kyle Hocking)

Phase two construction is set to remain in place through mid-2027, but CityNews has confirmed that lane restrictions will be lifted for two months during the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

“The City has structured the Gardiner Contract from Dufferin Street to Strachan Avenue to pause construction during the FIFA World Cup,” a city spokesperson said.

“The lane restrictions will be removed from May 2026 to the end of July 2026 to allow for full capacity of the Expressway during the tournament.”

In Sept. 2015, the city estimated the full project would cost approximately $2.5 billion. A revised estimate of $3.6 billion was sent to council for review in Aug. 2016.

It is still unclear how a 2023 agreement to have the province take control of the Gardiner and Don Valley Parkway will impact the overall cost and which level of government will fund it.

“Both the City and Province continue to meet to advance next steps of the Gardiner and the Don Valley Parkway upload,” a city spokesperson told CityNews.

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