A chunk of the Gardiner Expressway drops off—but it’s no big deal, right?

A chunk of the Gardiner Expressway drops off—but it’s no big deal, right?

Look out below! (Image: Dylan Passmore) 

Apparently, the sky Gardiner is falling. The 55-year-old expressway seems to have a dropping-five-kilo-concrete-slabs-onto-the-road-below issue after another piece fell onto unsuspecting Lake Shore Boulevard West on Monday. Luckily, no cars were hit and no one was injured. Of course the city is looking into it all the same, but it appears to be no big deal (um, really?)—aside from the fact that five-kilo slabs of concrete are dropping onto the road below.

Quoth the Toronto Star:

The incident is the fourth in recent memory, but does not mean that drivers should steer clear of Lake Shore, city staff said.

“There really shouldn’t be any concern,” said Mike Laidlaw, Toronto’s acting manager of structures and expressways.

Aside from the dangers inherent in a chunk of concrete weighing almost as much as a bowling ball falling from the sky, the expressway itself is sound, experts say.

It’s a relief that there’s no greater danger aside from the obvious one, but it’s also worth pointing out that the city already spends $8–$10 million a year maintaining the Gardiner, and we’re assuming that figure is only going to go up as the structure gets older. (Also, the Star notes that Toronto’s use of salt on the expressway is making things worse because it corrodes the rebar in the concrete—yet another reason to hope for milder winters.)

More generally, however, this is yet another reminder that Toronto still has a bunch of bills that it can’t put aside. Despite the mantra of finding “waste,” duplication and, of course, gravy, it’s not as if the city can just stop maintaining roads, one of its bigger budget items. Council could always see if McDonald’s wants to sponsor the Gardiner for a cool $10 million a year—but then Big Macs would occasionally be in the same headline as “traffic accident,” and that might tarnish the brand.

• Gardiner structurally sound, experts say, after chunk smashes onto road [Toronto Star]
Gardiner’s integrity to be tested [CBC]
City staff to inspect Gardiner Expressway after a 10-pound piece of concrete comes loose [National Post]