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Eastern End of Gardiner Expressway Should Stay Put: OTA

Posted: May 13, 2015

TORONTO — When the people who run Toronto consider the 100-year fate of the city’s Gardiner Expressway next month, the Ontario Trucking Association (OTA) wants to ensure its view is heard loud and clear, and that view is, getting rid of the eastern portion of the Gardiner would be bad for the city. It would cost Toronto’s economy up to $37 million  per year as a result of delays and  congestion.  Plus it might put pedestrians and cyclists at risk. These predictions are based on a study by an organization called The Gardiner Industry Coalition, of which the  OTA  is a contributing member.

At the moment, there are lots of people in the city calling for the abolition of the east end of the throughway; as evidenced by this recent commentary in The Toronto Star.

However, the new  study – conducted by the University of Toronto’s Centre for Intelligent Transportation Systems – said removing the Gardiner east–in addition to  costing between $23 and $37 million a year–might endanger pedestrians and cyclists because of possible congestion spikes and traffic flow on arterial roads that result.

According to a statement from the OTA, the study reinforces the so-called “hybrid option” supported by the Gardiner Industry Coalition. This proposal would establish a continuous link; in effect, an at-grade, hybrid compromise that would realign the Gardiner’s connection to the Don Valley Parkway maintain east-west traffic to and from the city – rather than simply tear down the elevated portion of the highway without any suitable capacity replacement.

The UofT study is the most comprehensive to date on the Gardiner issue and used the most current available data regarding traffic flows in the area studied (Gardiner Expressway East from Jarvis St. to Logan Ave.), the OTA says.

There are about 2,400 commercial vehicle truck trips per hour operating in the study area during peak periods. Further disruptions to this traffic could seriously impact the ability to deliver or pick up goods into or out of the city, says the coalition. 

“Trucking is a critical service to downtown businesses. Further disruptions to commercial operations will lead to increased costs of downtown goods and services as well as possible transportation supply shortages should carriers decide to opt out of the downtown market,” said Stephen Laskowski, senior VP of the OTA, who points to other major cities where downtown congestion and lack of traffic capacity pushes the cost of doing business out of reach for certain operations.

“The trucking industry is currently experiencing a capacity crunch as a result of an acute driver shortage. So, do fleets and trucks drivers begin treating downtown Toronto as they currently view deliveries in cities like New York – markets carriers increasingly avoid because drivers refuse to deliver there and there’s better, hassle-free customer options elsewhere as trucking capacity becomes tighter? It’s unfortunate if the removal of the Gardiner East without the vital hybrid option being put in place creates a New York City-type scenario for transportation providers in this city.”

The Gardiner Industry Coalition formed in 2014 over a shared concern about the impact that removing the eastern Gardiner expressway would have on regional access into the downtown core and goods-movement.

The Coalition is comprised of the Toronto Industry Network, Redpath Sugar, Canadian Couriers and Logistics Association, Ontario Trucking Association, CAA South Central Ontario, and the Toronto Financial District BIA.

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