Toronto Traffic Webmaster's Note: The following appeared in the Star, May 6, 2000.   Gardiner was a visionary, who may well be turning in his grave after reading about this.  I ask you a simple question:  who is the visionary - Gardiner, or Layton, the man behind demolishing the Gardiner East Stump?  Why don't we have any visionary politicians willing to complete the Gardiner East to the 401(Scarboro Expressway), as the original master plan stated?  This could be a toll road, simply because that's what it takes in 2000 to get a road built.  
Gardiner Must Be Turning in His Grave
                       SIGNS OF CHANGE: Construction crews, lane
                              closings and road signs make it clear times have
                              changed for the eastern extension of the Gardiner, the
                              big road built by `Big Daddy' Fred Gardiner, former
                              Metro chairman.

                            ``You know, I used to lie in bed dreaming in
                            technicolor, thinking it was too big. Now I know it
                            isn't. Maybe in 20 years time they'll be cursing me
                            for making it too small. But I won't be around to
                            worry then. Right now, I've come up smelling of
                            Chanel No. 5.''
                                 - ``Big Daddy'' Frederick Goldwin Gardiner, on his new
                                                   expressway, October, 1964

                    Big dream, big dust

                    `Big Daddy' Gardiner likely turning in his

                                By Jim Rankin
                            Toronto Star Staff Reporter

                    The first broken bones and fractured stones of
                    Frederick Goldwin Gardiner's dream skyway lie
                    strewn about on the earth. From above, through
                    gaping holes in the elevated bridge's skeleton of
                    steel, stream shafts of sunlight where none have
                    shone for nearly 40 years.

                    In technicolor, Big Daddy, and it smells like dust.

                    Indeed, the late Chairman of Metropolitan Toronto
                    who had an expressway named after himself may
                    well be spinning in his grave.

                    This week, Toronto began to seriously tinker with Gardiner's grand road, taking the
                    first steps toward what could well be the complete bypass and demolition of the entire
                    elevated portion of the expressway.

                    Last weekend, construction crews began a year-and-a-half-long project to shorten the
                    city's biggest bridge at its eastern terminus by 1.3 kilometres.

                    This stretch is the long-orphaned beginning of what local politicians once hoped
                    would be an expressway linking the Gardiner with Highway 401 in Scarborough. That
                    plan died in the '70s. It was just too expensive. The Gardiner had already cost $113
                    million (that's 1966 dollars).

                    Just five years ago, it was decided no more money would be put into maintaining the
                    1.3-kilometre orphaned section. Again, cost was the problem.

                    Once a symbol of progress, pride and, at times, the subject of far-out enthusiasm (a
                    prominent architect once argued the Gardiner could be covered to double as an
                    aircraft landing strip), the entire expressway is now thought of by many as an
                    eyesore, a physical reminder of poor city planning, of urban decay and the love of the
                    automobile - one of Toronto's mistakes by the lake.

                              ``I've made my mistakes. When I see them I
                              swear - and I never show anyone else where
                              they are. But I wouldn't change anything
                              about this road.''
                                - Gardiner in October, 1964, after returning to private

                    ``You know, things change,'' shrugs David Crichton, the city's man in charge of
                    undoing the eastern end of the mistake. ``It is a different day.''

                    Crichton, a manager of design and construction for the city, and George Rozanski, a
                    city engineer who is on-site overseeing the demolition and construction, are standing
                    on the doomed section of the Gardiner, just east of the area where the new ramps will

                    Tractor-trailers whiz by on the two lanes still open on either side of the middle lanes,
                    which are being prepared for the new ramps.

                    The big bridge shakes something fierce with each passing truck.

                    The movement doesn't bother the two city men, nor does it rattle the dozens of
                    construction workers toiling away immediately to the west.

The first stage of the project is off to a quick start. It calls for a two-lane on-off ramp
                    to be ready for vehicles by November. Then demolition will begin on the Gardiner east
                    of the new ramp, and two more lanes of the ramp will be constructed.

                    Portions of the raised highway, including some of its distinctive concrete supports
                    and giant steel girders, will be left behind - as art.

                    ``Public art,'' pipes Rozanski. ``I don't know. You tell me.''

                    By next fall, the construction and demolition work should be done. In 2002, the
                    greening phase of the project will be complete. Yes, things will actually be growing
                    where the drab section of highway once stood.

                    For now, as any motorist who travels regularly along and below the eastern Gardiner
                    route will tell you, it looks downright eerie.

                    Below the skyway, just east of the Don Valley Parkway exit, Lake Shore Blvd. is an
                    apocalyptic mess of tonnes of concrete chunks and severed, twisted re-bar, the steel
                    rods used to reinforce the concrete deck of the highway.

                    The bombed-out look to the place makes Angelo Grassa of Grascan Construction Ltd.
                    smile. In just two days, his company, which has the contract to administer the
                    shortening of the expressway, has done what they thought would take 21 days. The
                    area to be incorporated into the new ramps has already been stripped of the old
                    concrete and rusting steel reinforcing ribs.

                    ``We're pretty happy about that,'' says Grassa, raising his voice to compete with
                    construction equipment rumbling away below the Gardiner.

                    For the next eight months, workers will be rehabilitating the short segment of the
                    skyway just east of the Don Valley Parkway. There, existing supports and beams will
                    be used to tie into the new ramps, and form the new eastern end of the Gardiner.

                    The rest of the stretch, which extends to Leslie St. and, according to Grassa, is
                    composed of 60,000 tonnes of concrete, 8,000 tonnes of steel and about three tonnes
                    of aluminum, will be painstakingly demolished.

                    More than 90 per cent of the material will be recycled. Dismantling the bridge cleanly
                    makes recycling easier, Grassa says. The crushed concrete will likely end up beneath
                    the new tree-lined boulevard that will replace the stretch.

                    ``People think you can just implode it or just sort of knock it down like a pile of sticks.
                    You have to really take it apart like a puzzle, almost like the way you built it, to do it
                    efficiently and economically,'' says Grassa.

                    Carefully dismantling the Gardiner is also not as noisy as a typical demolition job.
                    And noise is one of the prime concerns, since the section borders Toronto's film and
                    sound studio district, says the city's site engineer, Rozanski.

                    Over the past week, hydraulic excavators were brought in to chip away at the
                    Gardiner's deck. These are not quiet machines, but an informal test suggested
                    acoustic blankets and moveable sound walls near the Gardiner may keep the studios
                    happy when the major demolition work begins.

                    This section of the Gardiner is often used by film and television crews to simulate Los
                    Angeles' elevated freeways. It looks very similar, and is just as dirty.

                    ``Right now, it's an L.A. freeway - looks just like Hollywood,'' grins Rozanski. ``Now it
                    will turn into Hollywood North. We'll be one better than what they have in L.A. . . . it's
                    going to be park-like.''

                    With his public life behind him, Frederick Gardiner slipped into a car on a fall day in
                    1964 to tour his expressway, which by then had just reached its link with the Don
                    Valley Parkway. It had been 20 years since he first started pushing and planning for
                    the highway.

                    Construction crews were making final touches to the link as Gardiner's car approached
                    the barricades. As he often did, he slipped past the barricades to survey the work.
                    Gardiner, then 69 and back practising law, was clearly enjoying the moment.

                    ``I get in before they see me and then they chase me,'' he joked with a Star reporter
                    along for the ride. ``Sure they recognize me when they catch up. I'm the face on the
                    barroom floor - everyone knows it. I tell them I'm just a young man from the country
                    trying to get along.''

                    By then, arthritis had made it difficult for Gardiner to get around. He stepped out of
                    the car and took a walk on his highway, with the help of a cane.

                    ``You've got a great city there, you know,'' he told the reporter. ``It's on the way and
                    you can't stop it now.''

                    No, Big Daddy, you can't.

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