The sound of jackhammers and squeaky construction vehicle treads cut through the relative nighttime silence in Toronto's South Core area over the Thanksgiving long weekend, as crews worked on a major element in the reconstruction of Harbour Street. From the evening of October 6th until early Tuesday morning, the intersection of Bay and Harbour streets was closed to traffic, allowing the intersection to be torn up and rebuilt to create a more complete street following the removal of the former Yonge Street arm of the Gardiner Expressway's York/Bay/Yonge off-ramps. 

During the weekend construction blitz, UrbanToronto Forum contributor jdoe1369 captured the operation through dozens of photos, published in a series of posts to our dedicated thread. The photos show the road work unfold over the course of the long weekend from many floors above in the east tower of Harbour Plaza Residences. In the days leading up to the weekend closure, the stretch of Harbour that was once in the shadow of the ramp's Yonge Street ramp—between Bay and York Streets—was quite active, with crews digging trenches to support new street trees, part of the street's new expanded public realm. This component of work continued through the long weekend, and is still ongoing.

Lower Simcoe Ramp and New Park, Gardiner Expressway, TorontoTrench on Harbour Street between Bay and York, image by Forum contributor jdoe1369

The real fun began on October 6th, once the Bay and Harbour intersection was closed shortly after the end of the evening rush. Cleared of traffic, excavators and dump trucks appeared on the scene to rip out and remove the road surface and prepare the intersection for rebuilding. jdoe1369 created an anigif of this stage of work which you can enjoy in this Forum post.

Lower Simcoe Ramp and New Park, Gardiner Expressway, TorontoBay and Harbour intersection being torn up on October 6th, image by Forum contributor jdoe1369

By the morning of October 7th, a full night of demolition had cleared the intersection, and work had begun on installing below-grade infrastructure in advance of the new road surface.

Lower Simcoe Ramp and New Park, Gardiner Expressway, TorontoBay and Harbour intersection on the morning of October 7th, image by Forum contributor jdoe1369

By the morning of October 8th, the outline of the rebuilt intersection had become apparent through wood forms installed where new curbs would eventually take their place. The forms meant an all-day concrete pour could begin.

Lower Simcoe Ramp and New Park, Gardiner Expressway, TorontoBay and Harbour intersection on the morning of October 8th, image by Forum contributor jdoe1369

By the end of the work day on October 8th, the pour was complete and the concrete was curing.

Lower Simcoe Ramp and New Park, Gardiner Expressway, TorontoBay and Harbour intersection on the evening of October 8th, image by Forum contributor jdoe1369

Final work on the intersection began the next morning on October 9th with the laying of asphalt and line-painting.

Lower Simcoe Ramp and New Park, Gardiner Expressway, TorontoBay and Harbour intersection on the morning of October 9th, image by Forum contributor jdoe1369

By the end of the day on October 9th, the asphalt was all in and the lines painted, ready for the Bay and Harbour intersection to reopen at 5:00 AM on the morning of Tuesday October 10th, in advance of the morning rush.

Lower Simcoe Ramp and New Park, Gardiner Expressway, TorontoBay and Harbour intersection on October 9th, image by Forum contributor jdoe1369

The new lines do not represent the final layout of Harbour Street, but are another step along the way of getting to the ultimate configuration: more work must still be done on the south side of the street to relocate the lanes there temporarily. That move will allow the north side of Harbour to be rebuilt through this stretch.

The widening and improvement of Harbour Street is one of the major elements in this infrastructure upgrade, happening in conjunction with the final construction activity of the new shortened Gardiner Expressway off-ramp ramp, relocated to the intersection of Lake Shore/Harbour and Lower Simcoe. The final design will include new separated bike lanes, landscaping, and wider sidewalks. In the future, Harbour may become a two-way street as far west as York Street.

Additional information and renderings of the design can be found in our database file for the ramp replacement, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the field provided at the bottom of this page.