gardiner expressway

Photo: AshtonPal/Flickr

An American non-profit has published a list of North American highways they think are on the brink of extinction and Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway was the sole Canadian inclusion. The “Freeways Without Futures” lineup is made of urban arteries that the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) believes are doing significant damage to cities and are in need of replacement with more people-friendly options.

“There is a real window of opportunity right now for highway removal projects,” explained CNU President John Norquist in the news release.

“Many of the freeways built in the 1950 and 60s have reached the end of their design lives, and millions of dollars will either go to maintaining these blight-creating behemoths or to creating infrastructure that will improve, rather than destroy, communities.”

In their report, which features freeways in New Orleans, San Franciso and Detroit, the Congress pointed out the Gardiner costs around $10 million annually in repairs.

The future of the expressway is currently a hot topic, with City of Toronto officials suggesting tearing down the 2.4 kilometre section east of Jarvis Street. A formal recommendation will come sometime in March.

The price tag for demolishing the piece of aging infrastructure is roughly $330-million. Improving the stretch is believed to cost $420 million to $630 million, while replacing it would cost between $610 to $910 million. By 2031, the removal would add about 10 minutes to the commute of drivers going downtown from Scarborough or Don Mills during morning rush hour.

Engineering on a final project is expected to start up in 2018 at the earliest.

The CNU list attracted entries from more than 50 cities which were evaluated on criteria such as the age of the expressway, local support and cost versus short-term mobility improvement.

Here’s the complete list:

  • New Orleans, LA – Claiborne Expressway
  • Buffalo, NY – The Skyway and Route 5
  • Syracuse, NY – Interstate 81
  • Toronto, Ontario – Gardiner Expressway
  • Rochester, NY – Inner Loop
  • St. Louis, MO – Interstate 70
  • San Francisco, CA – Interstate 280
  • Detroit, MI – Interstate 375
  • Long Beach, CA – Terminal Island Freeway
  • Hartford, CT – Aetna Viaduct

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