Staff report shows removing Gardiner east of Jarvis is most preferable option

City staff revealed the findings of an environmental assessment at city hall today

An environmental assessment being presented by Toronto city staff shows that removing the Gardiner Expressway east of Jarvis St would be most preferable.

There are four options being considered, but the two most popular are to either maintain the east portion of the raised expressway or remove it.

Staff say that removal would be the "preferred" option for pedestrians and cyclists, and in terms of urban design and safety. It would also be a cheaper option.

The report says that removal would cost $330-million in 2013 dollars, while maintaining the Gardiner would cost $345-million. In addition to that, it would cost much more to continue maintaining a raised expressway than a ground-level boulevard in the years to come.

Keeping the Gardiner up, though, would be more preferablen for drivers and for the "movement of goods" across the city.

Deputy city manager John Livey says that it will now be up to council to decide which of those factors are more important.

"We have not weighted the criteria," Livey says. "I think cost is a big one, but somebody might say the delay in time might be a big one."

Mayor Rob Ford says he wants to keep the Gardiner up.

"The Gardiner is very useful," he told reporters today. "If we tear it down, it will be traffic chaos for five to six years and I don't want to see that."

Deputy mayor Norm Kelly is also leaning towards maintaining the raised expressway.

"Gridlock is costing this city $6-billion a year," Kelly says. "If taking it down adds significantly to commuter times then you're adding that cost."

Councillor Paula Fletcher, meanwhile, says that her colleagues should closely consider the findings of the environmental assessment.

"This is showing that [removing the Gardiner] is a very good option and I'm very willing to discuss this, as I should," she says.

The report will go to council for a vote in April.

Livey, though, points out that after October's election, the new administration will still have a chance to change the plan next year.

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