How to deal with the Gardiner Expressway: a history of solutions that have never come to pass

How to deal with the Gardiner Expressway: a history of solutions that have never come to pass

Peter Michno's vision for the Gardiner

Dealing with the Gardiner Expressway is never going to be easy. Critics say it’s a costly eyesore that partially blocks access to the waterfront. Boosters say it brings millions of people into downtown. No wonder the Gardiner has inspired so many city planners and architects to make the roadway more palatable to Torontonians. A new idea, reported in the Star today, is to turn it into a giant tube. According to originator Peter Michno, encasing the Gardiner would transform this utilitarian piece of infrastructure into a work of art that would improve aesthetics while reducing traffic noise.

His is just the latest in a series of ideas that have surfaced over the past few years. We thought we’d take this opportunity to review some hilarious, improbable and fun proposals that are supposed to help us start loving the Gardiner.

Boston's$14 billion "Big Dig" (Image: David Salafia)

1. Bury it, Boston style
Architect Babak Eslahjou still has faith that burying the Gardiner is the way to go0. After all, Boston successfully buried one of its central highways—and only went $12 billion over budget.

Giorgio Mammoliti backed this plan for mass transit on the Gardiner

2. Turn it into Utopia
As part of his mayoral campaign, Giorgio Mammoliti wanted to ban cars from the Gardiner. His plan would have freed the space up for trains, cyclists, pedestrians and skaters, along with 12 sky parks. It would have been funded, for the most part, by a shiny new casino. All that was missing was the unicorn petting zoo.

The "Green Ribbon" plan (Image: Quadrangle)

3. Give it a green roof
Last year, Quadrangle Architects suggested covering the Gardiner with a roof and putting parks on it. New York City did it first, so that makes it okay for Toronto, right?

The eastern portion of the Gardiner is already gone (Image: Geroge Socka)

4. Tear it down
In 2006, the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corporation suggested nixing 4.5 kilometers of the Gardiner, from the DVP to Spadina, and expanding Lake Shore to 10 lanes.

A Jetsonsesque view of the future Gardiner (Image: Toronto Waterfront Viaduct)

5. Replace it with a cable-suspended viaduct
Toronto Waterfront Viaduct has proposed a cable-suspended structure to host “all modes of transportation.” Underneath, a SkyPath would ostensibly become Toronto’s “hanging gardens of Babylon” (though we suppose simply calling them “hanging gardens” would suffice).