Should the DVP be raised to combat flooding?

The Don Valley Parkway, a key artery into Toronto downtown, floods almost every time there's a heavy rainstorm. Is raising the busy roadway feasible?

Frequent closures after heavy rains has the city looking at solutions

Water from the Don River covers the entire DVP after a flood last year. The city plans to study a number of solutions, including raising the DVP, to help with flooding. (Mark Blinch/Reuters) (Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Is raising Toronto's Don Valley Parkway a feasible way to prevent the busy highway from flooding during rain storms?

It wouldn't be easy (or cheap) but it's something the city will study after what appears to be an increasing number of DVP shutdowns following heavy rains.

Last week the roadway was shut down overnight after up to 60 millimetres of rain fell in some areas.

A storm in May of 2013 left the DVP flooded for much of the morning commute. At the height of that storm the DVP was covered by a metre of water that had crested the banks of the Don River it runs beside.

The problem is the road's location, said Laurian Farrell of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority.

"We have a major piece of infrastructure in probably the worst possible place we could have it in, inside the flood plain in the system," she said in an interview on CBC Radio's Metro Morning Friday.

"The area where it floods is at the lowest portion in the watershed," she told host Matt Galloway. "We're looking at a huge volume of water and not a lot of space for it to go."

Farrell believes raising the roadway would reduce flooding. She said the corridor's narrow confines offer limited space for other flood abatement measures, such as berms or flood walls.

Stephen Buckley, general manager of the city's transportation services department, said the city will look at quick fixes to solve the roadway's flooding problem along with more expensive solutions.

"Anything's possible but it will come at a cost," he said. "This isn't just about adding six inches or a foot of asphalt onto the roadway. This is about looking at the underpasses and overpasses and making sure there's enough clearance. It could be something in the tens of millions. If we start reprofiling bridges, it could be north of that."

But Buckley is adamant no plan has been finalized.

"At this point I wouldn't say that we've made any definitive decisions about it, but It may be at the end of the day if this is into the hundreds of millions of dollars, we decide that it's OK to let it flood once or twice a year and we live with that risk."


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