In the month and a half since the April 17th closure of the Gardiner Expressway's York-Bay-Yonge off-ramp, Toronto's South Core area has been dramatically transformed. Soon to be replaced by a new shorter ramp landing at Lower Simcoe Street, demolition of the former exit progresses. When we last looked at the teardown earlier this month, a weekend closure of Lower Simcoe Street from Harbour Street to Queens Quay Boulevard had allowed the pace of work to increase considerably. At that time, the stretch of the ramp west of Simcoe had been taken down, while work to demolish the remaining road deck continued to the east. Most recently, the Victoria Day long weekend closure of the York and Harbour intersection allowed the demolition of the ramp above the intersection, and the first part of the spiral ramp.

York-Bay-Yonge off-ramp, demolition, Toronto, Gardiner ExpresswayDemolition has opened up conditions along Harbour, York, and Simcoe Streets, image by Forum contributor Razz

In the days since then, photos of the ramp removal have been pouring into our Forum thread covering the project. With the ramp’s western section now demolished, views from on and around Harbour Street have opened up dramatically, giving passersby a taste of the improved public realm that the project will introduce. A view of the York and Harbour intersection highlights the vast improvement to pedestrian conditions that the new, shorter ramp allows for. Consider that the pedestrian crossing visible in the image below had been cast in permanent shade since the off-ramp's construction in the 1960s… until now.

York-Bay-Yonge off-ramp, demolition, Toronto, Gardiner ExpresswayYork and Harbour intersection, image by Forum contributor Razz

The ramp removal is having a positive impact on surrounding existing and new high-rise developments, including Tridel's Ten York Street, under construction at the northwest corner of York and Harbour Streets. For the first time in the building's short existence so far, the south side of its wedge-shaped podium now feels wide-open at street level, following the removal of the adjacent section of off-ramp.

York-Bay-Yonge off-ramp, demolition, Toronto, Gardiner ExpresswaySouth side of Ten York's podium, image by Forum contributor skycandy

The bulk of activity has now shifted towards removal of the remaining section of the spiral ramp, as well as the removal of the eastern leg of the ramp that lands at the Bay and Harbour intersection. Work on the spiral section's removal has made quite a bit of progress since our mid-May update, and by the start of this week, a large portion of the spiral ramp had been taken down.

York-Bay-Yonge off-ramp, demolition, Toronto, Gardiner ExpresswaySpiral ramp section being demolished, image by Forum contributor Razz

Space freed up by the spiral ramp's removal will live on as an expanded public park once the ramp project wraps up next year. The $30 million public space—funded in part by Section 37 funds secured from the adjacent Sun Life Financial and Harbour Plaza Residences project—will incorporate some of the concrete bents supporting the spiral section, preserving a tangible reminder of the space's former car-centric use. A final design for the park has not yet been settled.

York-Bay-Yonge off-ramp, demolition, Toronto, Gardiner ExpresswaySpiral ramp section being demolished, image by Forum contributor Razz

Further to the east, the ramp's easternmost leg landing at Bay and Harbour is now practically demolished, with the road deck completely removed and all but the ramp's concrete abutment structure still in place.

York-Bay-Yonge off-ramp, demolition, Toronto, Gardiner ExpresswayBay street approach being demolished, image by Forum contributor Razz

Removal of this eastern section ramp is freeing up quite a bit of space on Harbour Street, which will eventually make use of this surplus space and be widened from the existing three to four lanes of traffic, while bike lanes will also be added.

York-Bay-Yonge off-ramp, demolition, Toronto, Gardiner ExpresswayBay street approach being demolished, image by Forum contributor Razz

We will keep you updated as the teardown process continues, and a new urban environment takes shape. In the meantime, you can learn more by checking out our dataBase file, linked below. Want to share your thoughts? Leave a comment on this page, or add your voice to the ongoing conversation in our associated Forum thread.