Toronto's Gardiner Expressway will reopen almost two months earlier than originally scheduled, after Mayor John Tory announced Thursday the city will spend up to $2-million to speed up construction.
A portion of the Gardiner on the city's west end, which was set to remain closed until midsummer, will instead reopen in May, Mr. Tory said. This will be the result of increased construction crews, equipment that can work through cold weather, and extending work hours – at a cost of around $2-million.
The mayor, who pushed for speeding up what was originally estimated to be a 16-month project, called it a "sound investment."
"I think this is a cost that the people who live in the city, drive in the city, do business in the city, will be prepared to see us undertake because they will recognize the toll that this kind of construction has," he told reporters at City Hall Thursday morning.
He justified the $2-million price by citing the cost of lost productivity from Gardiner congestion. An April, 2014, city staff report shows that each day of Gardiner gridlock costs the city $1-million.
The affected portion of the Gardiner stretches between the Canadian National Exhibition and Grand Magazine Street. The stretch will remain open until September – after the completion of the Pan Am Games – before lane closings are once again in effect for phase two of construction.
The mayor – who campaigned on cutting gridlock – said he's already looking at ways to reduce the impact of the second phase. "I can tell you that I'm already asking about that phase of construction: How can we do it faster? How can we speed it up? What investments do we have to make to minimize the impact?"