Auto insurance provider CAA South Central Ontario is pushing for Toronto politicians to vote in favour of funding more than $500 million worth of repairs over 10 years on the F.G. Gardiner Expressway.
The divided highway, which is elevated from a point west of Strachan Avenue to a point near the Don River, runs east and west parallel to the shore of Lake Ontario, providing a bypass route south of the downtown core.
"Studies have shown that the expressway has been crumbling and cracking due in part to years of neglect," CAA South Central Ontario stated in a press release Tuesday. "With the safety of road users being put at risk, CAA has been calling on city councillors to refrain from making safety a partisan issue."
On Tuesday, City Council was conducting a meeting for which capital budget briefing notes from staff were on the agenda.
In one briefing note, on current and planned rehabilitation of the Gardiner Expressway, city engineering staff stated that the deck of the elevated portion of the expressway will require replacement in several sections and included a summary table of the total expected budgetary needs for the expressway from 2013 through 2024.
The total project needs identified from 2013 through 2022 alone are $505.16 million, of which only $169.74 million is already in the city’s 10-year capital plan.
Another staff report noted that since 2008, only emergency repairs have been undertaken on the portion of the expressway east of Jarvis Street. That report notes that in 2008, an environmental assessment process was initiated to examine the reconfiguration of both the expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard. That study, which was placed on hold in 2011, was for the demolition of the expressway east of Jarvis Street.
"To maintain the Gardiner east of Jarvis Street operational for at least six years without replacing the deck, it is expected to require $30 million to $35 million in timber bracing plus several millions of dollars in deck patching and parapet wall repair/replacement," according to the staff report. "The current bridge deck cannot be maintained in perpetuity. Significant delays beyond 6 years will translate in to the current deck not being usable."
Of the $505.16 million identified by staff for the 2013 to 2022, $164 million would be to replace the deck from Strachan Avenue to Rees Street, essentially the western end of the elevated portion. That does not include $43.71 million and $44.8 million required in 2023 and 2024 respectively for the same work.
Another $105.55 million would be needed for the at-grade section for 2013 through 2022.
"If nothing is done about the state of the highway, the risk of a lengthy closure due to safety concerns increases and would have an enormous impact not only on the (Greater Toronto Area) economy and road congestion, but also on the quality of life for GTA residents," CAA South Central Ontario stated.