TORONTO — The Ontario Trucking Association is applauding Toronto Mayor John Tory’s support on Tuesday of the so-called ‘hybrid’ option regarding the eastern portion of the Gardiner Expressway.
The plan seeks to establish a continuous freeway link between the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway, while also ensuring east-west traffic flow on Lakeshore Blvd to and from the downtown core.
Such an alternative is supported by the Gardiner Coalition, which includes OTA, rather than a separate proposal for simply tearing down the elevated portion of the highway without a suitable replacement for the traffic capacity.
Speaking to reporters ahead of Wednesday’s Public Works and Infrastructure Committee (PWIC) meeting on the Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard East Reconfiguration Environmental Assessment, Tory spoke about the need for the hybrid option to minimize congestion and keep the city moving.
He also expressed concerns about lost productivity within Toronto if the highway were to be taken down.
“OTA is heartened that Mayor Tory has shown leadership by officially declaring his support for the continuous link option, which is critical to the preservation of transportation service levels as well as safety throughout downtown Toronto,” said OTA vice president Stephen Laskowski. “We are hopeful more decision makers will follow suit and voice their support for what businesses and many residents believe is a far less costly and disruptive option.”
Ahead of the meeting OTA submitted a letter about the project in which it echoed a recent University of Toronto study that found removing the eastern portion of the Gardiner would cost up to $37 million dollars per year as a result of increased delays and traffic congestion while also increasing the safety risk for pedestrians and cyclists.
OTA also explained how trucking is a critical service to downtown businesses and the associated costs with moving those goods to and from downtown are factored into their price.
“With congestion already a major issue in the city, it is OTA’s concern that any additional disruptions to commercial operations will only lead to increased costs of downtown goods and services,” the letter said. “In a worst case scenario, as the current truck driver shortage intensifies and capacity continues to tighten, some carriers could even decide to opt out of the downtown market – as has happened in other highly-congested cities like New York – which would drive costs up even further for Toronto businesses and consumers.”