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Both east and westbound HOV lanes sit nearly empty as main lanes remain congested during the morning rush on the Gardiner Expressway looking east from the Islington bridge in Toronto on Tuesday, July 14, 2015.

J.P. MOCZULSKI/The Globe and Mail

Lane closures on the Gardiner Expressway could reopen three months earlier than planned, after Mayor John Tory announced Monday the city will spend up to $3.4-million to speed up construction.

The decision means all lanes of the busy expressway should be reopened by summer 2016, instead of Oct. 31 as originally scheduled. This will be the second time the mayor has spent millions of dollars in order to speed up construction on the Gardiner.

"The Gardiner cuts through the heart of our city," Mr. Tory said at a press conference Monday. "It is a vital artery for people getting to and from work, getting to and from their family, but also for commerce delivering things all over the city."

Story continues below advertisement

The mayor justified the $3.4-million price tag by citing the cost of Gardiner congestion. An April, 2014 city staff report said that each day of Gardiner traffic costs the city $1-million.

"I look at it and say, 'If that's $1-million a day and we're saving 90 days on the construction compared to an investment of $3.4-million to get that done, it is common sense to say you make the investment and get the job done faster," Mr. Tory said.

In December, 2014, Mr. Tory announced that the city would spend $2-million to speed up construction in order to reopen a stretch of the Gardiner on the city's west end two months earlier than scheduled. That stretch of the Gardiner – between Strachan Ave. and Bathurst St. – remained open for the Pan Am Games, before lanes were once again closed for Phase 2 of construction.

The $3.4-million cost of speeding up Phase 2 will go towards extending work hours, increasing crews and equipment.

The mayor said the Gardiner is just one of 20 projects he has requested to be placed on an accelerated "hurry up" timeline.

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