6 years of lane closures coming to the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto

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Published February 12, 2024 at 6:40 pm

Image by Stephanie Legrand

A reconstruction of the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto that will likely cost in excess of $5 billion to complete is expected to snarl traffic coming in and out of Mississauga and the western GTA for the next six years or more.

Phase 1 of the Gardiner Expressway Strategic Rehabilitation Plan – approved by the City of Toronto in 2016 – has been completed between Jarvis and Cherry streets. The second section – Dufferin Street and Strachan Avenue near the Exhibition grounds – is now underway.

Phase 3 in the west, the 6.5-km section of highway nearly abutting Mississauga between Hwy 27 and the Humber River, is now in the planning stages.

Work on Phase 3 will include the reconstruction of the expressway and the rehabilitation of 11 bridges.

A statement from the City said the effects of age, heavy daily usage, weather and salt have made it “necessary” to undertake the major multi-year rehabilitation of the expressway to “keep it operational for the future.”

Because the Gardiner runs across several areas of the city, including established neighbourhoods, two river mouths and the city’s downtown core, the Gardiner Expressway Strategic Rehabilitation Plan was created to deal with the complexities of the project.

Phase 1 was completed in 2021 but multiple pandemic and supply chain delays have pushed the project forward, with the completion date already moved from 2027 to 2030.

That end date is in flux, however, as the City will pause construction for the two summer months during the 2026 World Cup so all lanes of the Gardiner Expressway are operational.

The final cost is also still up in the air. The original estimate for the project in 2015 was $2.5 billion, though that figure was revised to $3.6 billion only a year later.

The delays will drive that price further upward and it is unclear how the agreement between the province and the City of Toronto to have the province take over ownership of the Gardiner and Don Valley expressways (in exchange for $1.2 billion in funding for more homeless shelters and police officers and a promise to stay clear of the Ontario Place renovations) will affect the final cost of the Gardiner work.

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