It isn't too often that an upgrade to highway infrastructure captures the attention of Toronto urbanists. The ongoing replacement of the Gardiner Expressway's Yonge-Bay-York off-ramps has done just that, not necessarily for its impact of traffic flowing along the elevated arterial, but instead for its already noticeable positive effects on the pedestrian realm.

The project has already seen the demolition of the former elevated ramps touching down at York and Bay Streets, while structural work on a simpler, shorter replacement ramp—touching down at Lower Simcoe Street—had wrapped up at the time of our last update at the end of October. Most recently, new photos show that the road deck has since been paved, and lines painted in advance of the ramp's opening.

Lower Simcoe ramp, Gardiner Expressway, Toronto, DTAH, Harbour StreetNew Lower Simcoe ramp, image by Forum contributor Panontario

Though the photo above show an almost entirely complete ramp, there are other elements remaining to install before the new exit can open. Footings for traffic lights are now in place at the base of the ramp, and new signage has to be added to guide drivers into the Downtown street grid. Across Lower Simcoe from the ramp, new curbs are being formed for the new lanes that will connect the ramp with a widened Harbour Street.

Lower Simcoe ramp, Gardiner Expressway, Toronto, DTAH, Harbour StreetCurb work at Harbour and Simcoe, image by Forum contributor Panontario

To the east, work continues on either side of the York and Harbour intersection on the Harbour Street widening. The removal of the elevated ramps and the addition of new buildings on the northeast and northwest corners has gone great lengths towards making this feel like a proper Downtown intersection. The former footprint of the spiral ramp at the intersection's southeast corner will eventually be converted into a new public park, further improving the intersection and creating a green heart for the community.

Lower Simcoe ramp, Gardiner Expressway, Toronto, DTAH, Harbour StreetYork and Harbour intersection, image by Forum contributor Panontario

The public realm along Harbour Street will also be enhanced by new bike lanes, as well as new tree plantings, with a landscape plan by DTAH. Silva Cells are being put in place for the plantings along the south side of Harbour, with aerial views from earlier in the month showing the recent progress.

Lower Simcoe ramp, Gardiner Expressway, Toronto, DTAH, Harbour StreetHarbour Street between York and Bay, image by Forum contributor jdoe1369

A construction schedule for the project shows that everything is targeted to be wrapped up as early as January.

Lower Simcoe ramp, Gardiner Expressway, Toronto, DTAH, Harbour StreetConstruction schedule, image via City of Toronto

We will keep you updated as the project progresses. In the meantime, you can see plenty of renderings of the completed project 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.