The chair of the city's public works committee says keeping the eastern section of the Gardiner Expressway safe while the city decides if it should tear it down will cost a maximum of $35-million over three years – money he says would have gone to shoring up the crumbling roadway in any case.
City council will decide next week if it wants to restart a study on the Gardiner east of Jarvis that was quietly halted two years ago. Now, with more than $505-million in repairs needed over the next decade to keep the raised sections of the aging highway safe, councillors from all sides are ready to consider other options.
Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, head of the public works committee, says if council revives the study, staff will alter the proposed 10-year reconstruction plan and begin work on the western portion of the highway while the environmental assessment on the eastern section is completed.
The plan for rebuilding the Gardiner always envisioned that work would be done in stages, Mr. Minnan-Wong said, with steps taken to ensure all sections of the highway remained safe until crews reached them. If the environmental assessment gets the green light, staff will flip the schedule of work and shore up and brace the eastern section while they work in the west. The price tag for ensuring the section east of Jarvis is safe for three years while the assessment is completed is $35-million at the most, he said.
"We would have had to do a significant amount of bracing in any case," Mr. Minnan-Wong said. Under the proposed reconstruction plan for the Gardiner, which also goes to council next week, the city will spend about $50-million annually over the next decade to fix the crumbling highway. That figure, Mr. Minnan-Wong said, covers the entire raised section of the Gardiner, not just the part east of Jarvis that is the subject of the study.
He would not estimate how much of the safety measures could have been avoided if the study had been allowed to continue after Mayor Rob Ford took office.
Earlier this week, the city's budget committee earmarked $4.4-million in new funding to resurrect the Gardiner study.
Councillor Adam Vaughan accused the Ford administration of halting the Gardiner assessment without getting all the facts, something he said is a frequent pattern of the mayor's office.
"They act first and think later," he said. "Decisions are made without any idea of what the facts are."