Listen: Expect years-long gridlock on the Gardiner
This summer we saw the first closures on the Gardiner for much needed repairs.
Early work forced crews to begin lane reductions from Jarvis to the DVP, scheduled to last until December.
But it's only the beginning. In about 6 months, a number of fixes will be underway on the Expressway, with the city warning of slowdowns.
Staffers are working on 8 different projects at a cost of about $100 million dollars to patch up the crumbling Gardiner, the bulk of the work will get started early in 2014.
The most significant delays are expected to come from projects focusing on the western section of the Gardiner.
Starting in February or March, crews will replace the deck of the expressway between Spadina and Strachan and will see the loss of one lane of traffic in each direction until December 2015, with a break for the Pan Am Games.
Starting in April, traffic will be down to two lanes in both directions near Park Lawn to fix up three bridges in the area. The closures will last until December 2014.
The city's Transportation Services department says it's doing everything possible to reduce the delays and keep traffic moving, and if successful, may find a way to keep more lanes open at times.
"We've often looked at construction projects in a way that we try and minimize the capital cost and we've often overlooked, I think, the transportation impacts," says Stephen Buckley, GM of Transportation Services. "In a city where you're basically at capacity on pretty much all your roadway networks, we need to really think about the traffic impacts a lot more and factor that into our decision making."
City staff are trying to co-ordinate work to try and minimize congestion during construction on the Gardiner and will be watching alternate routes to keep them free and clear.
Buckley says they are also exploring "innovative construction techniques," like when it comes to replacing sections of the highway deck, crews might utilize a precast deck section and put it in place at night, instead of closing down a long stretch of the highway for a long period of time.
"This is critical work. It needs to get done. What we will ask (for) is your patience during that time," said Buckley.