Toronto looking for ways to speed up Gardiner construction, including 24/7 work

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Robin MacLennan

Ontario Construction Report staff writer

Toronto City Council has directed transportation staff to report back in July with a plan to accelerate construction on the Gardiner Expressway, potentially approving 24/7 construction, including work on Sundays.

A motion presented by Coun. Brad Bradford asks for a report by the fourth quarter of 2024 with a plan including:

  • an evaluation of the feasibility of undertaking 24/7 construction, including construction on Sundays when there is less impact to commuters
  • an evaluation of the feasibility of increasing the utilization of pre-fabrication technologies and/or building and assembling components off-site
  • an evaluation of all upcoming road work and other state of good repair projects along traffic corridors adjacent to the Gardiner Expressway, including Lakeshore Boulevard, King Street and Queen Street

The Gardiner has been reduced to two lanes of traffic in either direction for nearly two months now as major rehabilitation work gets underway to rejuvenate the crumbling expressway from Dufferin to Strachan for the second of a five-stage project. Construction is expected to last for about three years, with current restrictions.

“It’s unreasonable to expect people to sit in standstill, gridlock traffic and for Toronto’s economy to suffer for the next three-plus years when more can be done to alleviate this congestion,” Bradford wrote in his motion. “Let’s get on with it.”

Travel times on the Gardiner have doubled in recent weeks and Toronto was named “most congested city” in North America, outranking New York, Los Angeles and Mexico City.

Round-the-clock construction is permitted under the current contract, but noisy demolition work is limited to between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with occasional work on Sundays, staff said at the meeting, confirming noise sensors have been installed.

“They are actually trying to do a little bit of demolition work during the nighttime period to understand how noisy it is and to see if they can continue to work overnight,” staff told councillors.

“When we were developing this contract, we really looked hard at the experience that we had with the first phase of the work which occurred between Jarvis and Cherry,” staff said at the council meeting. “And there were significant noise issues and concerns in that the work that was taking place was causing tremendous community disruption.

“So, with respect to that, and due regard for that, we put this in the contract.”

The effects of age, heavy daily usage, weather and salt have made it necessary to undertake a major multi-year rehabilitation of the Expressway to keep it operational for the future.

Because the Gardiner runs across several areas of the city, including established neighbourhoods, two river mouths and the city’s downtown core, a Strategic Rehabilitation Plan was created by the city to deal with this large, complex and important project.

 

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