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City should consider Gardiner tunnel: Councillor

TORONTO – What about burying the eastern leg of the Gardiner Expressway?

Toronto Sun June 8, 2015 Don Peat

Ahead of Wednesday’s fight over the future of the eastern end of the elevated expressway, Councillor Jim Karygiannis wants his council colleagues to “cool our jets” and order staff to look at a Gardiner east tunnel.

Karygiannis — who is still undecided on the Gardiner issue and is polling his ward about it — said Monday he’ll ask council this week to at least look at a Gardiner tunnel. 

“When we come to talk about it, I’m going to move a motion that we hold off for 60 days and get a staff report (on a tunnel),” Karygiannis said. “I can see a tunnel where we can charge like $6.50.

“I don’t see why we’ve got blinders on and we say, ‘This or that.’ Yes, my constituents will decide and at the end of the day. I don’t think my motion on the tunnelling will go forward but if it does — fine.”

An environmental assessment currently underway on the future of the Gardiner east concluded a tunnel would be technically challenging and cost an estimated $2.5 billion for capital costs along with operating and maintenance funds. Ultimately, officials recommended not considering the tunnel idea any further.

But as council prepares to debate whether to remove the Gardiner east or build a hybrid option, Karygiannis questioned why the city isn’t considering burying the expressway.

Mayor John Tory said he has already asked city staff about burying the Gardiner’s eastern extremity.

“What I was told was that first of all there are some technical impediments that have to do with the access and egress of the tunnel, any tunnel,” Tory told reporters after a speech to the Empire Club. “And secondly, that we have by dithering and by having endless debates on this, basically run out of time and that the time that it would take to sort of restart the process now and look at another option would leave us in a situation where the Gardiner east … there’d be serious questions as to its safety.

“Leaving aside entirely the question of expense, I did take a look at it and I did explore it with the city officials.”