The eastern portion of Toronto's Gardiner Expressway may not be fit for use if repairs on the road surface aren't carried out in six years, according to a staff briefing note.
The note, published Wednesday, says that only emergency repairs have been conducted on the portion of the expressway east of Jarvis Street since the summer of 2008, when council under then-mayor David Miller deferred all work except what was deemed "essential."
"The current bridge deck cannot be maintained in perpetuity," says the briefing note. "Significant delays beyond six years will translate into the current deck not being usable."
Additional work on that portion had been held up by council at the time because the city was looking into the possibility of dismantling the expressway east of Jarvis Street altogether.
In conjunction with the planning agency Waterfront Toronto, the city had initiated an environmental assessment that was going to look into the effects of dismantling the expressway east of Jarvis Street altogether.
But that environmental assessment was "placed on hold in 2011," the staff briefing note says, without offering further details. It is still unclear why the assessment was halted despite council's directive to start that process.
Second, from NOW Toronto, comes Ben Spurr's article "Ford administration killed Gardiner study, councillor alleges".
On Wednesday public works chair Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong said that it was the underspending during Mayor David Miller’s tenure that caused the Gardiner to fall into disrepair.
“We’ve not made the investments in the Gardiner that we should have,” he told reporters.
“We didn’t have a plan to fix the Gardiner Expressway because the previous administration wasn’t investing the money that it needed to get done.”
Minnan-Wong is backing a request from city staff to spend $505 million on rehabilitating the highway over the next ten years. Council will vote on the request in January as part of the 2013 capital budget plan.
But Councillor Gord Perks, who was vice-chair of public works under Miller, suggests it’s time to think about tearing down at least part of the Gardiner. He demanded to know why an environmental assessment council ordered in 2008 to study demolishing the Gardiner east of Jarvis was halted when Rob Ford was elected mayor.
Perks believes that the Ford administration pressured staff into stopping the assessment, even though doing so went against the express will of council. The councillor says that if study had been completed by now the city would know whether it was more cost-effective to spend millions on repairs or demolish the Gardiner's lesser used eastern section.
“If that work had been completed we would today be in a position to know whether or not we should be rebuilding it or taking part of it down,” Perks said. “Because the administration unilaterally cancelled that, we’re not in a position to take action today.”
Minnan-Wong said that Waterfront Toronto staff decided to suspend the assessment “in consultation with the city of Toronto” after Rob Ford won the 2010 election.
“Given that there was a new mayor elected who was committed to keeping the Gardiner Expressway up – because he spoke about it quite publicly in his platform – Waterfront Toronto was no longer making that a priority,” he said.