Toronto is a highway that we'll ride all day long
DETAILS ARE SKETCHY, but they suggest Toronto is in for a shock beyond anything even dimly remembered from the transportation battles of 30-plus years ago. Forget "shock" - what's coming is an expressway earthquake. In 1971, when Conservative premier Bill Davis stopped the Spadina Expressway by drawing what amounted to a line in the asphalt at the foot of what is now the W. R. Allen Rd., this was regarded as not just the death, but the burial of all multi-lane, limited-access, north-south, cross-city highway plans.
They turn out not to be nearly as well buried as many thought.
And if a scheme reportedly in the works at City Hall is put into effect, the expressways - there were three of them, known, besides the Spadina, as Black Creek, and Scarborough (Beaches-Morningside) - will live again. They would be major job-generating construction projects to make up for the loss of such high-employment efforts as the Olympic Games.
The details, which appear to have been provided by someone involved with drafting the city's new official plan, aren't only sketchy, they're somewhat cryptic. On letterhead reading "Project Three Million" - which is precisely the anticipated population growth in the GTA by 2030 - is typed, "1. No Government is going to fund adequate public transit; 2. Traffic in the City is currently impossible, thus posing economic disaster; 3. Something has to give." Accompanying this is a photocopied May 13 column by my City Hall-based colleague Royson James, with his paraphrase of a "key" official plan recommendation underlined: "No new expressways will be built in the city for the foreseeable future; residents just won't allow it.'' Handwritten in the margins are the following. ``No new expressways. But what about old expressways?''
And, ``You have to have the one'' - that is, more mass transit - ``or the other'' - more expressways. ``Or the city will strangle itself to death.'' This material is stapled to a map with what would be the new (old) routes highlighted in pink marker.
It looks as if the city might be rebuilt for cars rather than people after all.
As a refresher for survivors of those long-ago wars, and as an introduction for newcomers, here are the proposed old (new?) expressway routes.
A) Spadina/Allen. Now completed from Highway 401 to Eglinton. It would continue southeast, as originally planned, down the Cedarvale Ravine, thus requiring a minimum of residential expropriation, to converge with Spadina Rd. at Winston Churchill Park. From there it would plunge due south (possibly under Casa Loma) across the Annex, to terminate at a Bloor interchange on the northwest corner of the University of Toronto campus.
B) Black Creek. Like the Spadina/Allen, virtually halfways built already. It would provide a vital link between Highway 400, the bulk of whose traffic is now illogically, and inconveniently, redirected at Highway 401, and the Gardiner Expressway. Leaving the Weston Rd.-Keele St. corridor tocarry its already heavy flow, it would descend instead through neighbourhoods called the Junction and High Park, and ultimately through High Park itself, (again minimizing expropriation) to the Gardiner and Lake Shore Blvd.
C) Scarborough. Its recently, and prematurely, demolished eastern approach to the Gardiner would be reconstructed. After heading east along the lakeshore, it would angle across the northwest corner of the Beaches (through Glen Stewart Ravine). Paralleling the CNR-GO railway line, then bisecting Scarborough Golf and Country Club, it would follow Highland Creek, much as the Don Valley Parkway follows the Don River, through Morningside Park to the Morningside-401 interchange. This represented less of a challenge when Greenwood Racetrack was in existence, and may require an elevated portion over the housing development that replaced it.
NOTE: Integral to these, Bloor St. and Danforth Ave. would become a high-speed, restricted-access artery connecting the midtown interchanges where the expressways cross it or terminate. The Gardiner would have two, and as many as five, decks constructed above its present level to accommodate traffic generated along this southernmost link between the Black Creek and Scarborough expressways.
Sources at City Hall, while declining to acknowledge the existence of such a scheme, nevertheless say frustration with traffic in the city - ``We've got rush-hour 24 hours a day, for Pete's sake'' - and the risk this poses to the commercial future of the downtown core, as well as increased and increasing population, have created a political environment, and a popular demand for relief, far different than anything that existed when the original plans were scrapped.
Traffic Main Page
Canada Protest Page