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Public works committee makes no decision on Gardiner future

Last Updated May 13, 2015 at 8:08 pm EST

A day after Mayor John Tory spoke out in favour of the most expensive option — it was up to the public works committee to weigh in on the future of the eastern portion of the Gardiner Expressway.

The committee met on Wednesday to discuss the two options for the 2.4-kilometres of crumbling road – tear it down or a hybrid option that would mostly maintain the elevated roadway for a 1.7-kilometre stretch and reroute the highway between Jarvis Street and the Don Valley Parkway.

Their decision — after 10 hours of meetings and 30 deputants speaking to the issue — was to get more information from city staff.

An updated report will come to council on June 10 after the chair of the committee, Coun. Jaye Robinson, moved and won motions to get more information from city staff about congestion and off-ramps.

Before the committee met, Tory said he is in favour of the hybrid option which would cost over $900-million.

“Removing that piece of the Gardiner will almost certainly make traffic worse,” Tory told the media on Tuesday. “I didn’t get elected to make traffic worse.”

A staff report showed the cheapest option would be tearing the elevated section down and converting the road into a boulevard at a cost of just over $400 million.

Despite the huge difference in cost, Tory still defended his preferred option.

“When the costs are looked at in real dollars, when you look at the affect time has on money, the costs are only slightly greater,” he said

The stretch in question now carries 5,700 vehicles an hour in both directions during morning rush hour.

City staff previously recommended that removing the elevated section would be the cheapest and best option, but it would also delay drivers by about 10 minutes. The decision was unpalatable to politicians, who asked for more options at the time.

However the latest report finds that the boulevard option, tearing down the elevated highway, will slow drivers less than originally thought — adding around three minutes.

Tory added that the hybrid plan would also mean the development of the Unilever lands, located at the DVP and Lake Shore.

“It’s not just a handful of buildings we’re talking about here, but a transformational development that would employ thousands of people and pump billions of dollars into the local economy.”

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