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City report leans in favour of removing the Gardiner

A new report brought forth by city staff found that tearing down the Gardiner Expressway is the best option and the cheapest option.

The detailed report was the result of an environmental assessment of the aging artery and looked at the cost and traffic impact of maintaining, improving, replacing or removing the Gardiner between Jarvis Street and approximately Leslie Street.

The report showed the removal of the Gardiner would cost $330-million and increase commute times by 10 minutes, while replacing it would cost nearly a billion dollars.

Mayor Rob Ford said the financial difference between removing and maintaining the Gardiner Expressway isn’t worth the headache commuters would face.

“I want to keep the Gardiner. The price between keeping it and removing it is very, very minimal,” Ford told reporters on Wednesday. “The Gardiner is very useful. If we tear it down it will be traffic chaos for five to six years.”

Deputy Mayor Norm Kelly was in agreement.

“Gridlock is costing this city $6-billion a year. Why would you add to the gridlock?” he said. “I tend to support the maintenance of the Gardiner and I think any change to it really has to be scrutinized very carefully.”

On Tuesday Ford said he would not tear down the Gardiner regardless of what the report suggests.

“I want to maintain the Gardiner,” Ford told reporters at city hall.

“I’m not going to tear it down. It will cause traffic chaos … I think the staff and I are on a different page,” Ford said.

No matter what is done to the east Gardiner, it would take between six to either years to complete and require lane closures.

In October, the City of Toronto and Waterfront Toronto 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.

Residents can have their say on the Gardiner at a public meeting at the Toronto Reference Library at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.