A report released by City Hall suggests that the congested and aging Gardiner Expressway, which has been shedding chunks of concrete, will soon become structurally unstable.
According to the report, the 60-year-old highway is in need of urgent and costly repairs.
Millions of dollars in repairs are scheduled to begin in the summer. Recommendations were made to begin construction on the west end of the highway in 2014, which is projected to be finished by 2019. Construction on the east end will not be completed until 2025.
"It's going to be a long process. It's a big project, and we do want to look at ways we can phase this that can minimize public disruption," said Stephen Buckley, general manager of transportation services for the City of Toronto.
Approximately 200,000 vehicles travel every day on the arterial highway, which bisects Toronto's downtown core, and construction could mean extended periods where the Gardiner is reduced to two lanes.
Ever since it was constructed, the fate of the highway has been debated. Some have said that it should be torn down entirely, arguing that the removal of the highway would open up the city to the waterfront.
"When Boston did its big dig, and that took the same length of time, they got rid of a huge expressway that ran through the centre of the city," said Joe Berridge, founding partner of Urban Strategies, an urban design firm.
"There was traffic chaos but I think everybody is very happy with the result."
The city has to consider the results of an ongoing environmental assessment before making final decisions on the fate of the Gardiner.