Gardiner Expressway

Bookmark and Share

This 2013 photo shows the eastbound Gardiner Expressway approaching downtown Toronto. (Photo by Steve Anderson.)


18.0 kilometers (11.2 miles)

PLANNED IN THE IMMEDIATE POSTWAR ERA: The Gardiner Expressway was one of the first projects undertaken by the newly formed government of Metro Toronto. Plans for the expressway, which originally was called the Lakeshore Expressway as it was to follow Lake Shore Boulevard, were first announced in 1947.

In May of that year, the Toronto City Planning Board first announced a four-lane "waterfront highway" from the Humber River to the Don River. In November of that year, the city's public works committee approved a four-lane highway, which was to run along the Canadian National (CN) Railroad right-of-way and to the north of the Canadian National Exposition (CNE) lands, ending at Fleet Street to the east. The city's Board of Control approved the plan for the $6 million expressway, but the City Council rejected the plan after 11 hours of deliberation, so the plan was sent back to the Board of Control. The following month, the Board of Control abandoned the plan due to a steel shortage.

The influential Metropolitan Executive Committee, which effectively served as the predecessor to the Metro Toronto government was chaired by Frederick G. Gardiner, a lawyer and businessman who was active in Ontario's Progressive Conservative party. In July 1953, Gardiner ordered plans for the Lakeshore Expressway to be revived as a six-lane expressway from the eastern terminus of the Queen Elizabeth Way, which itself was to be converted to a six-lane expressway, east to Woodbine Avenue. The cost of the Lakeshore Expressway had more than doubled to $20 million, which was attributed to part to the increase capacity of the proposed route to six lanes, from four. Under Gardiner's plan, the Lakeshore Expressway was to have been part of a city-wide network of expressways, which included the Don Valley Parkway, the partially completed Spadina Expressway (now Allen Road), and the unbuilt Crosstown Expressway.

Gardiner's committee gave the route planning to planning firm Margison Babcock and Associates, which delivered its proposal to the committee in April 1954. Beginning at the Humber River Bridge, where the Queen Elizabeth Way enters Toronto, the Lakeshore Expressway was to parallel Lakeshore Boulevard to its immediate south, and was to be built at least partially on infill over the Lake Ontario shoreline, with an interchange at Jameson Avenue. The expressway was to continue east past the Canadian National Exposition (CNE) grounds, with an interchange at Strachan Avenue in front of Prince's Gate.

Continuing east of Strachan Avenue and the CNE grounds, the expressway was to transition to an elevated roadway over Lakeshore Boulevard, much as it does today, east to the Don River, with interchanges at Spadina Avenue, York Street, Jarvis Street, and the Don Valley Parkway. East of the Don Valley Parkway, the elevated expressway was to continue east above Lakeshore Boulevard with interchanges at Carlaw Avenue and Coxwell Avenue before transitioning to grade level at the intersection of Lakeshore Boulevard and Woodbine Avenue. The cost of the original Margison plan was $50 million.

This 1957 photo shows the Gardiner Expressway under construction through the Sunnyside lakefront district west of downtown Toronto. (Photo by Metropolitan Toronto Records and Archives Division.)

MAKING CHANGES TO THE ORIGINAL PLAN: The City of Toronto and the Toronto Harbourfront Commission responded by opposing the shorefront alignment, so Margison developed a revised plan that took the expressway north of the CNE grounds. The plan, which was announced in July 1954, added another $11 million to the cost the expressway and required the demolition of homes just west of the CNE grounds. The revised plan, which routed the expressway north of Lakeshore Boulevard along the CN railroad and Ontario Hydro rights-of-way, saved 11 acres of shoreline along Lake Ontario, though still required extra fill along Lake Ontario to compensate for the loss of 10 acres of CNE grounds.

Even after Margison released the revised alignment, there remained opposition to the route, particularly for the downtown section between the CNE grounds and the Don Valley Parkway interchange. The Toronto Harbour Commission favored a route farther north, while planned Edwin Kay proposed a tunnel through downturn, a proposal that reappeared about 60 years later.

The newly created Metro Toronto government, or Metro, approved with the "modified Margison" alignment, and budgeted $31 million for the western section from the Humber River Bridge east to Strachan Avenue, and for the eastern section from the Don Valley Parkway east to Woodbine Avenue, for the 1955 fiscal year. The provincial government was to pick up half of projected cost for the expressway. However, Metro did not budget the elevated section through downtown, citing the need for future discussion, as well as the Humber River Bridge. The proposed Humber River Bridge faced its own issues owing to not only increased congestion, but the need to have it raised high enough to protect it against floods similar to those caused by Hurricane Hazel, which hit the city as an extratropical Category 1 hurricane in October 1954.

A 20TH CENTURY BATTLE OF FORT YORK: Just east of the CNE grounds, the Lakeshore Expressway was to be routed over Fort York, a national historical site built in 1793 by British troops and used as an active military installation until 1945. There was to have been an on-ramp built connecting Bathurst Street with the westbound lanes of the expressway; this ramp would have been built directly over fort grounds. Metro opposed rerouting the expressway, stating that relocation based on the current alignment would result in a "greater-than-six-degree curve in that would require drivers to slow down, while adding another $1 million to the cost of the expressway. Chairman Gardiner went even as far as to propose moving Fort York to a new location closer to the lakefront. Taking the case of the historical societies that opposed the expressway on fort grounds, Alderman Philip Givens, who later served as Mayor of Toronto and Member of Provincial Parliament, disputed Gardiner's claim that relocation would add to the cost of the expressway, and as head of Metro's roads committee, devised a solution in 1958 that would locate the elevated expressway just south of Fort York, as it does today, without the ramp from Bathurst Street.

Fort York also was under threat from the proposed extension of Highway 400, which was to have been extended south to a directional-Y interchange with the Gardiner Expressway. According to a 1959 map published in the
Toronto Star, the interchange was to have been built directly over Garrison Common, a park just west of the Fort York grounds that often hosts military concerts and other events. The interchange was to leave a military cemetery to the west near Strachan Avenue intact, along with the Fort York Armoury just south of the existing Gardiner Expressway. Once again, Gardiner revived his plan to relocate the fort to a lakefront site, proposing that the City and Metro share the cost of relocating Fort York, though nothing came of this plan.

This 1960 photo shows the Gardiner Expressway under construction through the area of Fort York (shown in the lower left) west of downtown Toronto. (Photo by Metropolitan Toronto Records and Archives Division.)

CONSTRUCTION GETS UNDERWAY: East of the Humber River, construction started in 1956 on the section from the Humber River Bridge east to the Jameson Avenue interchange. This section of the project included the building of a new, wider Humber River bridge that accommodated roadways for both the Lakeshore Expressway and a relocated Lakeshore Boulevard. It also provided for the widening of Lakeshore Boulevard to three lanes in each direction, though it required the demolition of Sunnyside Amusement Park. When this first section of expressway was completed on August 8, 1958, the Metro government formally named the route the "Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway." However, this early section lacked guardrails to separate opposing traffic flows, a situation that was not remedied until the 1960s.

West of the Humber River, the Ontario Department of Highways began work to upgrade the existing Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) from the Humber River Bridge west to the current interchange with Highway 427 in Etobicoke in 1953. The existing four-lane divided highway was upgraded to a six-lane freeway with grade-separated interchanges and flanking service roads. This 6.4-kilometer (4.0-mile)-long section was completed in December 1958, though it remained under provincial jurisdiction under 1997, when the former QEW section was transferred to Metro and redesignated as the Gardiner Expressway.

AN ELEVATED SOLUTION: Work began on the next 4.5-kilometer (2.8-mile)-long section of the Gardiner Expressway in 1959 from the Jameson Avenue interchange east to York Street. This six-lane section transfers to an elevated roadway just east of the Dufferin Street overpass; this elevated section eventually extends past Fort York and downtown Toronto to a point east of the Don River, making the 6.8-kilometer (4.2-mile)-long viaduct the longest bridge in Ontario. Part of the viaduct was built over the existing Fleet Street, which was rebuilt into an upgraded Lake Shore Boulevard to accommodate traffic connecting between the expressway and downtown.

The section from Jameson Avenue east to Spadina Avenue was completed in August 1962, followed by the eastbound lanes from Spadina Avenue east to York Street in December 1962, and then the westbound lanes from York Street west to Spadina Avenue in January 1963. Accommodations were made for a potential interchange with an extended Highway 400, though except for some widened shoulders in the area just west of Fort York, there is little evidence today of such plans.

COMPLETION THROUGH DOWNTOWN: As work on the Jameson-York segment progressed, work began on the next section from York Street east to the Don Valley Parkway. This section extended the viaduct over Lake Shore Boulevard east to the Don River, and included a slip-ramp interchange at Jarvis Street. An additional westbound lane was provided from the Don Valley Parkway west to the York Street / Yonge Street exit ramp, while an additional eastbound lane was provided from the Jarvis Street entrance ramp east to the Don Valley Parkway. There was to have been a full cloverleaf interchange at the Don Valley Parkway, which would have provided direct access to port facilities to the south of the expressway, but instead, a partial interchange was built providing access from the eastbound Gardiner Expressway to the northbound Don Valley Parkway, and from the southbound Don Valley Parkway to the westbound Gardiner Expressway. When this section was completed in November 1964, the expressway had two stub ends for a future extension east of the Don Valley Parkway

THE FINAL SECTION: As the Gardiner viaduct through downtown Toronto was being completed, work began on the last section of the expressway, which extended the viaduct 1.3 kilometers (0.8 mile) east to a pair of ramps just west of Leslie Street. When it was completed in July 1966, stubs at the terminus of the elevated highway hinted at a future extension of the route as the Scarborough Expressway, which was to have extended the route of the Gardiner Expressway east through Scarborough to the current interchange between Highway 401 and Highway 2A.

This 1963 photo shows the Gardiner Expressway under construction at Jarvis Street in downtown Toronto. (Photo by Metropolitan Toronto Records and Archives Division.)

A CALL FOR IMPROVED SAFETY: Even as the easterly stretches of expressway had yet to be completed in 1965, Metro Toronto Chief Coroner Morton Shulman released a report highlighting safety deficiencies on the parkway, including inadequate guardrails, exposed slopes that could be vulnerable to erosion, and lightpoles that did not meet modern safety standards. One step toward a safer expressway was taken in 1966 when emergency telephone call boxes were installed along the length of the parkway. At one particular location that had seen increased accidents--the westbound ramp to the expressway from Jameson Avenue and Lake Shore Boulevard--electronic signs and remote-operated gates were installed to close the ramps during rush hours.

To prevent erosion while beautifying the highway, the Canadian National Railway, which owned an unmaintained grassy hillside in the Sunnyside neighborhood on the north side of the expressway, worked with the city to clean up the hillside in 1988. After 26 metric tons (29 tons) of garbage were removed, floral logos made up of yew bushes were planted along the hillside. The advertising pays for the maintenance and period cleaning of the hillside, though only the corporate name is permitted. Moreover, alcohol and tobacco company logos are not permitted to advertise on the hillside at all.

In 1994, the city's Road Emergency Services Communications Unit (RESCU) began operations on the Gardiner Expressway to monitor traffic and respond to incidents. The emergency call boxes were removed, and in their place the city installed traffic cameras, road sensors, and variable message signs (VMS) along the expressway.

Although the lightpoles date back to the original construction, the light fixtures have changed over the years. The lightpoles debuted with fluorescent light fixtures, but in the late 1970s, the lightpoles were fitted with low-pressure sodium fixtures that gave off a yellowish light. In the early 2000s, these light fixtures were replaced by high-pressure sodium fixtures.

A TRANSFER OF OWNERSHIP: On April 1, 1997, the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario (MTO) transferred jurisdiction of the section of the Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) from Highway 427 east to the Humber River Bridge to Metro ownership. Upon the transfer, this former QEW section through Etobicoke was redesignated as part of the Gardiner Expressway, and signs were changed to reflect the name change. This section includes collector/distributor (C/D) roads through EXIT 142 (Kipling Avenue / Islington Avenue).

The province, specifically the non-partisan "Who Does What" committee established during the premiership of Michael Harris, determined that the QEW section east of Highway 427 served a local purpose, and since it did not connect to a provincial highway to the east, that the section no longer was needed in the provincial highway network. However, according to Cameron Bevers, webmaster of the "The King's Highway" website, the decision proved unpopular as the "downloaded" section was used primarily by motorists from the Peel Region (Mississauga) and points west, and Toronto taxpayers thought it was unfair that they would subsidize suburban commuters who traveled into the city by car.

Less than a year later, on January 1, 1998, the Highway 2 designation was removed from the Gardiner Expressway from the Humber River Bridge east to Leslie Street. Although the Gardiner Expressway was never maintained by the province, the removal of the ON 2 designation was part of a province-wide strategy by the MTO to "download" routes to local jurisdictions.

SMOOTHING OUT A BUMPY RIDE: By the 1990s, the Humber River Bridges carrying the Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard resembled a roller coaster ride, and over the years, the uneven road surface contributed to a number of accidents. Engineers determined that the bridge pillars, which dated back to the original construction in the mid-1950s and rested on soil, not bedrock, had sunk by one meter (three feet). Preliminary work began in the area in 1996. New steel box girder bridges were built to replace the existing bridges, while the connecting roadways also were rebuilt, including a ped / bike path along the eastbound lanes of Lake Shore Boulevard. The Humber River Bridge replacement project was completed in 1999 at a cost of C$100 million.


TOP: This photo shows the Gardiner Expressway looking west toward the exit for Sherbourne Street and Jarvis Street (current EXIT 155) just prior to its completion in 1966. (Photo by Metropolitan Toronto Records and Archives Division.)

BOTTOM: This photo shows nearly the same location in 2013. (Photo by Steve Anderson.)

EARLY PLANS TO REDEVELOP THE GARDINER: As early as the 1990s, heavy traffic and harsh weather combined to take their toll on the Gardiner Expressway, particularly on the concrete pillars, where salt created corrosion of the steel within the pillars, causing pieces of concrete to fall off. The city spent C$8 million per year for remedial work to seal expansion joints to force runoff water into the drains, patch the concrete pillars, and sandblast and repaint exposed steel.

Around this time, the earliest of proposals to redevelop the Gardiner Expressway corridor was announced. In 1991, the Royal Commission on the Future of the Toronto Waterfront released a report, "Report 15: Toronto Central Waterfront Transportation Corridor Study," which determined that the combined use of the Gardiner Expressway, Lake Shore Boulevard, and the railroad right-of-way used too much space. The report recommended that Metro and the City 1) retain and improve the existing expressway; 2) replace the elevated expressway with a new structure; or 3) remove the expressway. The Metro and City governments decided to maintain the existing expressway.

In 1996, the Waterfront Trust asked the Canadian Highways International Corporation, the private company which at the time was building the Highway 407 toll road, to study replacing the existing elevated Gardiner Expressway with a tunnel. The group proposed a six-lane tunnel to replace the existing elevated section from Dufferin Street east to a point east of the Don River, with tolls to be used to finance the estimated C$1 billion cost. Upon receiving the group's study, the city highlighted the following obstacles that builders would face as follows:

  • 12-foot (3.66-meter) diameter storm sewers just west of Fort York and under Portland Street;
  • a high-voltage power line under Strachan Avenue;
  • a filtered water intake to the John Street pumping station;
  • a TTC streetcar line running under lower Bay Street;
  • a TTC streetcar loop on the CNE grounds; and
  • the Don River.

The Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Task Force, which eventually became Waterfront Toronto, advanced a similar proposal in 2000. By then, the estimated cost of the Gardiner Tunnel was C$1.2 billion. However, by the mid-2000s, the task force had shifted its recommendation away from a tunnel and toward replacing the expressway with an expanded at-grade Lake Shore Boulevard. The task force estimated it would cost C$300 million to replace the expressway with an expanded boulevard from Jarvis Street east to the Don River.

By the end of the decade, as Waterfront Toronto's boulevard proposal gained favor with Mayor David Miller and some City Council members, independent designers offered their plans to maintain the expressway as follows:

  • In 2009, Mark Fraser, a Toronto CAD technician, proposed a "Green Expressway" that would feature a bi-level tunnel underneath the existing elevated expressway, with the lowest level for through traffic and the upper level for local traffic. The proposed maintained the existing Lake Shore Boulevard, though it would be flanked by parks. The existing viaduct structure would be repurposed into a pedestrian promenade similar to New York's High Line (a repurposed elevated railroad), though the promenade would include small retail stores. No cost estimated was provided for this proposal.

  • Also in 2009, Toronto architect Les Klein proposed adding an upper-level deck to the existing elevated expressway. The upper-level "Green Ribbon" would include plants, pedestrian and bicycle paths, and solar panels that would supply power for the expressway lights. The cost of this proposal was estimated at C$650 million.

  • In 2010, architectural designed Peter Michno proposed enclosing the elevated expressway with a glass-enclosed tube. Underneath the elevated tube, the existing Lake Shore Boulevard would be flanked by green space and pedestrian walkways. No cost estimate was provided for this proposal, though tolls were to fund construction costs. Michno's proposal gained the support of Michael Comstock, a leading architect in the city and the President of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA).

This 2013 photo shows the eastbound Gardiner Expressway at EXIT 146 (Lake Shore Boulevard) west of downtown Toronto. Note the greened-out area to the left of the Gardiner Expressway sign, which formerly had an ON 2 shield. There remains an ON 2 shield for the Lake Shore Boulevard sign, but that also is an anachronism following the province's "downloading" of highways to the local level. (Photo by Steve Anderson.)

GOODBYE TO PART OF GARDINER EAST: The anti-expressway forces eventually scored a victory on removing the elevated Gardiner Expressway from the Don River east to Leslie Street. Demolition of this section was proposed as early as 1990 by the Crombie Commission and the Lake Shore-Gardiner Task Force. As originally completed in 1966, the expressway came to a dead-end just prior to Leslie Street, with just a single-lane off-ramp diverging from the mainline expressway onto Leslie Street and Lake Shore Boulevard. The mainline expressway was to have continued east as the Scarborough Expressway, which was never built.

By the mid-1990s, the elevated easterly section was in need of extensive repairs, and a 1996 environmental assessment found it would cost C$48 million to renovate this section, but only C$34 million to tear down the elevated roadway and reconfigure Lake Shore Boulevard. As Metro canceled the Scarborough Expressway in 1994, city leaders saw no need to maintain the elevated expressway east of the Don River.

One key concern regarding the dismantling plan was the use of the railroad lines that cross Lake Shore Boulevard. The single-track railroad lines the north side of Lake Shore Boulevard, crosses the westbound lanes of the boulevard at Carlaw Avenue, straddles the median from Carlaw Avenue for about 400 meters (one-quarter mile) east, then splits in two separate branches over the eastbound lanes of the boulevard. According to Metro, the line was used only twice a week, but City Councillor Tom Jakobek commissioned an independent study that found as many as 20 trains used the rail line per week. The study recommended that the elevated expressway be continued east of Carlaw Avenue, which was what the City proposed in its compromise plan. However, this compromise plan did not satisfy the film industry, which had a cluster of studios near the proposed terminus at Carlaw Avenue.

On June 10, 1999, the Toronto City Council voted 44-8 to demolish the eastern section of the Gardiner Expressway. Demolition work began on April 28, 2000, and by mid-2001, workers completed the removal of the elevated expressway east of Booth Avenue. The newly shortened viaduct offers a more gradual descent to Lake Shore Boulevard than did the old single-lane ramps at the former Leslie Street terminus. The final cost of the project, which included the reconfiguration of Lake Shore Boulevard to a six-lane boulevard, construction of a bicycle path, landscaping, and soil remediation, was C$44 million, above the revised C$39 million estimate provided by the City, and nearly the cost of the viaduct renovation alternative. As part of the demolition, 13 piers were left standing as a monument to the former viaduct.


TOP: This 1999 photo shows the former eastern terminus of the Gardiner Expressway at Leslie Street prior to its demolition. Note the roadway stub to the right of the ramp; this was to lead to the unbuilt Scarborough Expressway.

BOTTOM: This 2001 photo shows demolition work underway on the former Gardiner extension to Leslie Street.

(Photos by Metropolitan Toronto Records and Archives Division.)

NEW EXIT NUMBERS EXTEND QEW SCHEME: In 2017, the City signed new exit numbers along the length of the Gardiner Expressway, with the new exit numbers reflecting the distance in kilometers from the western end of the expressway at the junction of Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) and Highway 427. The new exit numbers are a continuation of the kilometer-based exit numbering scheme on the QEW, with the last westbound exit, EXIT 139, corresponding to the last eastbound exit on the QEW. The last eastbound exit on the Gardiner Expressway is EXIT 157 for Lake Shore Boulevard; at this point, the left lanes split for an unnumbered exit for the Don Valley Parkway. Interestingly, there remains a provincial ON 2 shield for Lake Shore Boulevard at this exit, even though the province eliminated that designation in 1997.

REBUILDING RAMPS AT YORK-BAY-YONGE: In April 2017, the City closed the eastbound exit for York-Bay-Yonge Street (EXIT 154) for demolition. The old eastbound exit, which featured a loop ramp to York Street--called the "Hot Wheels" ramp due to its design--and a long elevated ramp over Harbour Street to Bay Street--was demolished. In its place, a new, shorter ramp was built from the eastbound expressway directly to York Street. The new ramp featured "winter" technology with nozzles that release anti-freeze spray in slippery conditions. As part of the project, Harbour Street was widened to four lanes (from three) between Lower Simcoe Street and Bay Street, and a dedicated bicycle path was built along the southern edge of Harbour Street. The construction team left behind eight piers from the old "Hot Wheels" loop ramp as a nod to the 2000-2001 Gardiner East demolition project, and made them the centerpiece of a new public park. The C$30 million project was completed in January 2018.

In July 2019, the City closed the westbound ramp for two months to rehabilitate the entire ramp. Work on the westbound slip ramp from the expressway included repaving, replacement of concrete barrier walls and curbs, and improvements to the storm drainage system.

This 2013 photo shows the eastbound Gardiner Expressway at EXIT 154 (York Street-Bay Street-Yonge Street) downtown Toronto. (Photo by Steve Anderson.)

COMING SOON… A NEW GARDINER EAST: In 2008, Waterfront Toronto, a private organization promoting redevelopment of the Toronto lakefront, proposed the demolition of the elevated Gardiner Expressway east of Jarvis Street. A rebuilt and widened Lake Shore Boulevard would accommodate the traffic flows from the Gardiner Expressway, similar to what was done for the "Gardiner East" segment that was removed in 2001, and in the absence of the elevated Gardiner, ramps connecting to Lake Shore Boulevard would provide the only access to the Don Valley Parkway. The C$300 million plan had the support of Mayor David Miller, and the Toronto City Council prompted the provincial government to proceed with an environmental assessment. Following the election of Rob Ford as Mayor, who favored keeping the elevated Gardiner, the removal project was shelved.

In a 2013 staff report on the condition of the Gardiner, City staff told City Council that the condition of the elevated expressway had deteriorated such that an immediate decision had to be made on its future. Following this report, the City Council voted to restart the environmental assessment process. As a result of the environmental assessment for the Gardiner Expressway, the following alternatives were presented to City Council for votes in June 2015.

  • Demolish expressway, replace with widened boulevard: C$326 million for construction, C$135 million upkeep cost for 100 years. The City Council rejected this proposal by a 26-19 margin.

  • Rehabilitate existing expressway and boulevard: C$342 million for construction, C$522 million upkeep cost for 100 years. The City Council rejected this proposal by a 44-1 margin.

  • "Hybrid" proposal to build Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway ramps, as well as maintain existing boulevard: C$414 million for construction, C$505 million for upkeep. The City Council approved this proposal by a 24-21 margin.

To build support for the "hybrid" option, Mayor John Tory prompted City staff to study proposals for connections between the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway that would retain as much development potential as possible, including a potential tunnel alternative. The final preferred alternative, known as "Hybrid 3," is described as follows:

  • Remove the elevated Gardiner ramps that extend over the east of the Don River to Logan Avenue.

  • Remove the existing DVP-Gardiner connection and rebuild it to run through the Keating Channel Precinct further north (closer to the rail corridor) and construct a new "tighter" (130-meter / 425-foot radius) ramp connection to the DVP with a reduced speed limit. (The existing speed limit through the DVP-Gardiner connection is 60 km/h, or 37 MPH.)

  • Widen the Metrolinx Don River/DVP Rail Bridge underpass to the east to allow for a more northern DVP-Gardiner ramp location.

  • Construct a new two-lane Lake Shore Boulevard-Gardiner ramp westbound on and eastbound off connections east of Cherry Street.

  • Construct a new Lake Shore Boulevard alignment that runs mid-block through the Keating Channel Precinct plan area.

According to Infrastructure Ontario, the C$1.5 billion project is expected to be built between 2024 and 2027.

AND REHABILITATION FOR THE REST OF THE GARDINER: Under the "Gardiner Expressway Strategic Rehabilitation Plan" begun in 2018, the city and province plan to spend another C$800 million in the following nine years to rehabilitate the expressway from Highway 427 east to Cherry Street. The project has been divided into the following stages: 

  • Highway 427 east to Islington Avenue: 2023-2025
  • Islington Avenue east to Humber River Bridge: 2023-2025
  • Humber River Bridge to Fraser Street: 2025-2027
  • Fraser Street to Strachan Avenue: 2021-2023
  • Strachan Avenue to Yonge Street: 2024-2026
  • Yonge Street to Cherry Street: 2018-2021

Typical work on the elevated sections will include replacing the entire concrete deck and steel girders of the expressway, as well as rehabilitation (and in some cases, replacement) of the entrance and exit ramps to the elevated structure.

The "Gardiner Expressway Strategic Rehabilitation Plan," as divided by section and projected construction dates. (Map by City of Toronto, Division of Transportation Services.)

SOURCES: "Link With Expressway Province Worry" by Harold Hilliard, Toronto Star (9/14/1949); "Gardiner, Reeve Back Bluffs Expressway," Toronto Star (1/02/1954); "Second Humber Bridge Urgent Need, Toronto Asks Quick Approval" by Lee Belland, Toronto Star (7/20/1954); "Year of Traffic Jams 'Till New Bridge Built" by T.M. Eberlee, Toronto Star (11/02/1954); "Planning Board Seeks $60,000,000 To Extend Three Expressways," Toronto Star (4/18/1957); "Invade Fort York: Proposed Alignment of Gardiner Expressway at Old Fort York," The Globe and Mail (1/24/1958); "Agree Fort York Remain on Site," Toronto Star (7/02/1958); "New Expressway Route Bypasses Fort York" by Lee Belland, Toronto Star (1/02/1959); "100 Boating Fans Protest CNE Fill," Toronto Star (2/24/1960); "Must Car Drivers Endure Two Years of Lakeshore Chaos?" by Robert Cochrane, Toronto Star (6/02/1962); "Thruway Opened Jameson-Spadina," Toronto Star (8/01/1962); "Urges Transit Lines on All Expressways," Toronto Star (10/29/1962); "Some 20-Year-Old Ideas About Metropolitan Toronto" by Ron Haggart, Toronto Star (10/17/1963); "Expressway Link Dandy Unless You're in a Hurry" by Frank Lennon, Toronto Star (11/07/1964); "Expressway Section To Open," Toronto Star (7/06/1966); "East Expressway Start Urged," Toronto Star (11/01/1966); "Expressway Changes Save Houses," Toronto Star (8/01/1967); "Scarborough Expressway: Pause for Review," Toronto Star (4/06/1971); "Spadina Snarls Scarborough Expressway Plan" by Judi Timson, Toronto Star (1/04/1972); "Scarborough Expressway Now Needed, Planner Says," Toronto Star (3/06/1972); "Scarborough Now All But Buried, More Streetcars Urged," Toronto Star (3/12/1974); "Unemployed CAD Tech Pushes Progressive Gardiner Replacement" Maurice Cacho, CP24 News (6/02/2009); "Tunnel Vision, Circa 1954" by Kenneth Kidd, Toronto Star (9/26/2009); "Gardiner Expressway: Big Daddy's Expressway Project" by (12/14/2012); Toronto Star (12/14/2012); "Gardiner Expressway: A Brief History of Toronto's 'Superhighway'" by Laura Kane, Toronto Star (2/05/2014); "The Man, His Highway, Their Legacy: What Toronto Can Learn from Frederick 'Big Daddy' Gardiner" by Marcus Gee, The Globe and Mail (5/29/2015); "We Need a Win-Win Solution for the Gardiner East" by Eric Miller, Toronto Star (6/09/2015); "Gardiner Debate Takes Council in Weird Directions" by Edward Keenan, Toronto Star (6/10/2015); "New Implementation Approach for the F.G. Gardiner Expressway: Revised Strategic Rehabilitation Plan," City of Toronto (2016); "Missing Links: A History of Toronto's Controversial Unfinished Expressway System" by James B. Alcock (2017); "Rebuilt York-Bay-Yonge Ramp from Gardiner Expressway Opens" by Joshua Freeman, CFTO-TV (1/28/2018); "Should the Eastern Gardiner Be Torn Down? No" by Murtaza Haider and Andy Manahan, Toronto Star (10/09/2018); "This Is What the Gardiner Expressway Looked Like Being Built," (10/11/2018); "Gardiner Expressway Rehabilitation Strategy," City of Toronto (2018); "Westbound Gardiner Off-Ramp to York-Bay-Yonge Reopens After Two-Month Closure," CITY-TV (9/23/2019); James Alcock; Scott Steeves.

  • Gardiner Expressway shield by James Alcock.
  • ON 2 shield by Josh Anderchek.





  • Gardiner Expressway exit list by Steve Anderson.

Back to The Roads of Greater Toronto home page.

Site contents © by Eastern Roads. This is not an official site run by a government agency. Recommendations provided on this site are strictly those of the author and contributors, not of any government or corporate entity.