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Gardiner Expressway

The Frederick G. Gardiner Expressway, known locally as "The Gardiner", is a lakeside expressway serving downtown Toronto, Ontario. It runs from the junction of Highway 427 and the Queen Elizabeth Way in the west to the foot of the Don Valley Parkway in the east, just past the mouth of the Don River. East of Dufferin Street, the roadway is elevated, running above Lake Shore Boulevard east of Bathurst. For some years the Gardiner has been the subject of controversy, with repeated calls from advocates of waterfront revitalization to demolish it or move it underground.

Begun in 1955 and completed in 1966, the expressway was one of the first projects undertaken by the newly formed government of Metropolitan Toronto. It is named for the first chair of Metro Council, Fred Gardiner, who championed the project. Originally it ran along the Lake Ontario waterfront from west of the Humber River, where it joined the Queen Elizabeth Way, to Leslie Street, about 2 km east of the Don Valley Parkway (DVP).

The stretch east of the DVP was part of a planned extension through the eastern suburb of Scarborough, meeting up with Highway 401. The central portion of the Scarborough Expressway was never completed.

Subsequent to the 1998 amalgamation of the Metro municipalities into a single government, the stretch of the Queen Elizabeth Way between Highway 427 and the Humber River became part of the Gardiner. In 2001 the Gardiner's short eastern spur was demolished, as the level of traffic it carried was considered too low to justify the high maintenance costs of the elevated roadway.

As one of the few express routes for motor traffic into the downtown core, the Gardiner is regarded by many as essential to the city's economy, but its presence remains one of the most contentious urban planning issues in Toronto. Critics of the expressway have long decried its appearance and argued that it cuts off the city from its waterfront. In recent decades several proposals have been made to dismantle it or replace its central section with a tunnel. The most recent and detailed of these proposals was part of a wide-ranging report presented by the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Task Force in 1999. Lack of municipal funds and political will has repeatedly stalled such plans.

During the demolition of the Gardiner East, several of the concrete pillars that once supported the roadway near Leslie Street were left standing, and incorporated into a public art project as a commemoration of the era in which they were constructed.

See also: Spadina Expressway


External links:
Photos of the Gardiner East demolition from the City of Toronto Archives
Missing Links, A Complete History Of Toronto’s Controversial Expressway System