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Gardiner Expressway Hybrid Design

jozl

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Preface: This topic might be better suited for the " Buildings, Architecture & Urban Design" forum thread. If so, I hope a moderator will move it there.
Like many people, I was very disappointed that city council voted against removing the eastern end of the Gardiner Expressway and, instead, voted to rebuild it. It is referred to as the "Hybrid" version. Trouble is, no one really knows what that means. Will the new structure be another concrete behemoth replicating the existing structure or will it be something different? This issue was raised in my local east side neighborhood newspaper (The Bulletin). Some city counsellors along with former urban planner Paul Bedford have started asking the same question. Can we get something we can live with?
I started this thread hoping that it will foster some much needed discussion on the actual design of the yet to be built eastern portion. Who knows, we might find a solution that can later be applied to the entire Gardiner (though I would rather it was torn down).
I have posted a few photos I took in Georgetown (an old section of Washington DC) of the elevated expressway that straddles the Potomac River. While it's not as wide as the Gardiner it shows some interesting possibilities. Using steel girders instead of massive concrete supports provides a lighter, more open feeling. It is also higher than the Gardiner which adds to the more opened feeling. It wasn't too bad walking below this structure and the immediate area around it was much more pleasant than what the the Gardiner provides.
Anyway, I'm curious to see alternative ideas. Maybe we can turn our disappointment into something more appealing.

Georgetown overpass 4.jpg


Georgetown overpass 1.jpg


Georgetown overpass 2.jpg


Georgetown overpass 3.jpg
 

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MetroMan

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A new hybrid option will be brought to Council this Fall that is different than the contentious proposal that barely made it through a divided City Council. It's going to be a lot closer to the original hybrid option that runs along the rail corridor, freeing up the land around the Keating Channel for Waterfront Toronto redevelopment. It's a good compromise if we have to retain the Gardiner at all.



While I'd much rather prefer we remove the Gardiner, I'm optimistic that we can make it work with it up. Downtown — particularly around South Core — condos and office towers are hemming in the Gardiner and rail corridor. Bridges running alongside the rail corridor connecting buildings have successfully concealed the railway and made the area around it feel urban. We can do the same along the Gardiner, creating a sort of above ground PATH like Calgary's +15 skywalk network. The Gardiner would be hiding behind.

The remaining challenge is making the pedestrian crossings less gloomy and intimidating. That can be accomplished by landscaping right up to the expressway with trees and welcoming outdoor spaces, making the crossing much shorter. Lighting those spaces under the Gardiner with interesting ceilings and pillars where pedestrians cross, would round out the pedestrian friendly measures.

Since we're not going to build a tunnel into the ground, I'd be content to turning the existing elevated Gardiner and Lakeshore running under it into a "tunnel" of sorts with buildings on either side.
 
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AlvinofDiaspar

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I have posted a few photos I took in Georgetown (an old section of Washington DC) of the elevated expressway that straddles the Potomac River. While it's not as wide as the Gardiner it shows some interesting possibilities. Using steel girders instead of massive concrete supports provides a lighter, more open feeling. It is also higher than the Gardiner which adds to the more opened feeling. It wasn't too bad walking below this structure and the immediate area around it was much more pleasant than what the the Gardiner provides.
Anyway, I'm curious to see alternative ideas. Maybe we can turn our disappointment into something more appealing.
Not a bad case of overhead expressways done well at all - unfortunately the Gardiner is at 6 lanes significantly wider than this. In any case, I am curious as to what the new plans are.

AoD
 

howl

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The problem with most of the Hybrid options I've seen from non-technical people is they assume the expressway can make a sharp bend at the bottom of the Don Valley and right along the edge of the railway. The reason the Gardiner swings so far south, next to the channel, is because that's how much room it needs to make the curve at 80kmph.

There are a number of potential solutions. One is to make the curve a lot slower. That means slowing traffic down somehow (maybe even a traffic light or roundabout). Another solution is to start the curve much farther north which would require bridging over the railway line and part of the new West Donland Park. That would be expensive and not very attractive. Alternately, you could start the curve a lot farther north and tunnel under the railway and park. That would be more attractive, but even more expensive. Lastly, you could follow the existing route of the expressway and just rebuild it with a lighter structure.
 

AlvinofDiaspar

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The problem with most of the Hybrid options I've seen from non-technical people is they assume the expressway can make a sharp bend at the bottom of the Don Valley and right along the edge of the railway. The reason the Gardiner swings so far south, next to the channel, is because that's how much room it needs to make the curve at 80kmph.

There are a number of potential solutions. One is to make the curve a lot slower. That means slowing traffic down somehow (maybe even a traffic light or roundabout). Another solution is to start the curve much farther north which would require bridging over the railway line and part of the new West Donland Park. That would be expensive and not very attractive. Alternately, you could start the curve a lot farther north and tunnel under the railway and park. That would be more attractive, but even more expensive. Lastly, you could follow the existing route of the expressway and just rebuild it with a lighter structure.
A sharper curve than what we have right now is pretty much going to the case, according to the article in the Star:

Deputy Mayor Pam McConnell, who represents the downtown Toronto Centre-Rosedale ward and who led opposition to the hybrid option in favour of replacing the 1.7-kilometre stretch with a surface boulevard, agreed there have been improvements.

It’s a redesign she and Tory both say more closely resembles an original hybrid pitch first put forward by developer First Gulf, who owns the nearby Unilever site slated for redevelopment.

“This is a lot better than what it was when it was brought to council, and it’s much closer to what the original one was when it was first conceived,” said McConnell, who would still like to see that section torn down. “Maybe it’s something everyone can live with.”

It includes realigning the eastern end of the expressway closer to the rail corridor — the essence of the First Gulf plan that was ditched earlier because of a too-tight turn radius. Though the curve is less extreme, the new plan would still require traffic to slow, McConnell said. But it would unlock additional valuable land for redevelopment and would allow for beautification between Cherry St. and Lower Jarvis St., she said.
http://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2015/09/07/mayor-john-tory-says-gardiner-plan-revised-ahead-of-busy-council-agenda.html

AoD
 

MetroMan

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A tunnel under the rail corridor was one of the finalists but was found to be too expensive and technically challenging. The loop will be sharp so traffic will have to slow down to about 50km/hr, not much different than any other on/off-ramp along the Gardiner.
 

MetroMan

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That one is a tunnel under Lakeshore. Tunnelling was too expensive. The curve looks to be just about right though.
 

BurlOak

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Yeah, but somehow nobody thought about using part of this plan.

As I have said many times before, tunneling under Lakeshore was the worst idea if they are only considering the Gardiner East. Imagine going over the Don River, then underground, then up to meet the current Gardiner height, all with 2% or 3% grades and adequate clearance over the Don River and adequate soil cover in the tunnel all within less than 2 km. It would have been a roller coaster.
 

MetroMan

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While I was adamant to see the Gardiner East removed completely, an assessment of my desires with a cool head tells me that a satisfactory compromise is possible. The important components:

  1. The elevated Gardiner removed from the Keating Channel, freeing up open waterfront redevelopment.
  2. A grand Lakeshore Blvd. anchoring the eastern waterfront.

#1 is fairly straightforward. Removing the elevated Gardiner from the Keating Channel and moving it along the rail corridor solves that requirement. The rail corridor itself was never going anywhere so adding the Gardiner is an acceptable compromise that doesn't cost much land in the grand scheme of things. Developments south of that can turn their backs on this corridor and it'll be pretty much forgotten.

#2 is a matter of moving Lakeshore from beneath the Gardiner through the centre of the newly opened land. It might only briefly duck under the reconfigured Gardiner. The opportunity for a Grand Boulevard is there, although it won't be as interesting if the Gardiner is running on the north side of it.

If we take into account Lakeshore East running into the Beaches, continuous landscaping can indeed make Lakeshore Blvd into a Grand Boulevard. Creative puzzle fitting buildings alongside the tighter sections can all but hide the Gardiner into the urban fabric.

All that said, I still think that this is a monumental waste of money with poor foresight into a future that is going to belong less and less to the car.
 
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Tuscani01

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While I was adamant to see the Gardiner East removed completely, an assessment of my desires with a cool head tells me that a satisfactory compromise is possible. The important components:

  1. The elevated Gardiner removed from the Keating Channel, freeing up open waterfront redevelopment.
  2. A grand Lakeshore Blvd. anchoring the eastern waterfront.

#1 is fairly straightforward. Removing the elevated Gardiner from the Keating Channel and moving it along the rail corridor solves that requirement. The rail corridor itself was never going anywhere so adding the Gardiner is an acceptable compromise that doesn't cost much land in the grand scheme of things. Developments south of that can turn their backs on this corridor and it'll be pretty much forgotten.

#2 is a matter of moving Lakeshore from beneath the Gardiner through the centre of the newly opened land. It might only briefly duck under the reconfigured Gardiner. The opportunity for a Grand Boulevard is there, although it won't be as interesting if the Gardiner is running on the north side of it.

If we take into account Lakeshore East running into the Beaches, continuous landscaping can indeed make Lakeshore Blvd into a Grand Boulevard. Creative puzzle fitting buildings alongside the tighter sections can all but hide the Gardiner into the urban fabric.

All that said, I still think that this is a monumental waste of money with poor foresight into a future that is going to belong less and less to the car.
One amazing thing about the idea of rebuilding next to the rail corridor is that 100% of the servicing for the buildings along the new alignment can be hidden under the re-aligned Gardiner. It's a good way to hide the least attractive parts of buildings and prevents the need for driveways off Lakeshore, or another street taking up extra real estate.

And if we get to the day where the Gardiner is no longer needed, perhaps this smaller section can become our 'High Line', connecting downtown to the valley. Not a waste of money at all!
 

Tuscani01

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Also, I wonder if stacking these ramps is a possibility. It would significantly reduce the footprint if the Eastbound lanes were to rise up above the Westbound lanes as they curve over the Don and join the DVP. The present alignment is already somewhat like this, as the Westbound ramp is much lower than the Gardiner's Eastbound ramp to the DVP.
 

MetroMan

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One amazing thing about the idea of rebuilding next to the rail corridor is that 100% of the servicing for the buildings along the new alignment can be hidden under the re-aligned Gardiner. It's a good way to hide the least attractive parts of buildings and prevents the need for driveways off Lakeshore, or another street taking up extra real estate.
I'm still waiting to see details like everyone else but I suspect that most of the Gardiner along the rail corridor won't be elevated in the same way as the existing Gardiner. Lakeshore will no longer need to run under it. It'll run on a hill level with the rail corridor with tunnels for perpendicular streets and there'll be a slope towards the bridge over the Don River but no "expressway on stilts" like we have today.
 

ssiguy2

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I like the route right up against the rail corridor.

Curious, who owns that small strip beside the rail corridor right now?
 

jcam

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The argument that the curve is too tight assumes that the Gardiner has to dive under the Lakeshore line. If instead its a flyover (as is shown in that proposal pic above), it can have a gentle curve that touches down at the Eastern on-ramp.

Doing so also opens up the riverbank south of Sunlight Park road.,..meaning you could reopen the old Eastern bridge as a bike and pedestrian crossing.
 
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