Toronto city staff are not recommending burying the crumbling eastern portion of the Gardiner Expressway.

At a briefing today, four possible ways to deal with the most problematic stretch of the Gardiner (from Jarvis Street to the Don Valley Parkway) were detailed.

The options are:

  1. Maintain. This is also known as the “do nothing” approach. Leaving the Gardiner as is, would require the usual maintenance. This default option has been given the price tag of $235-million, which is currently funded.
  2. Improve. This option would maintain the Gardiner as is, but also update the "urban fabric" to improve the streetscape. This greener expressway would include a bike lane, but is notably missing two lanes of traffic.
  3. Replace. The current expressway would be replaced by one of two options, another elevated one or one that is buried. Burying that stretch would cost close to $1 billion.
  4. Remove. The Gardiner as we know it would be taken down and in its place a new boulevard would be built.  City staff say this boulevard would have about nine lanes of traffic, running along the lakeshore.

Burying too pricey

Waterfront Toronto vice-president of planning and design Chris Glaisek said that burying that stretch of the expressway was the least viable option due to an immense cost and challenge.

The latter three options would cause more traffic, something some members of the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) won't get behind.

"If you talk to any commuter on the Gardiner Expressway, we're already suffering gridlock. The option to reduce lanes, really isn't an option,” said Faye Lyons of CAA.

The maintain option remains the cheapest, with $230 million needed in order to maintain it.

A public meeting will be held on Wednesday at the Toronto Reference Library.

A shortlist, or preferred option, would then be presented to city council in early 2014 with assessments commencing the following year.