News   Mar 04, 2021
 1.1K     2 
News   Mar 04, 2021
 595     0 
News   Mar 04, 2021
 1.4K     1 

Roads: Gardiner Expressway catch-all, incl. Hybrid Design (2015-onwards)

Northern Light

Superstar
Member Bio
Joined
May 20, 2007
Messages
10,440
Reaction score
15,179
Location
Toronto/EY

Buffalo is likely to see its Skyway demolished. The Governor seems committed to the idea.

But there is much debate over whether preliminary plans for its replacement at-grade road go far enough in terms of pedestrian-priority and re-urbanization.

 

urbanflight

New Member
Member Bio
Joined
May 20, 2019
Messages
72
Reaction score
145

When a new elevated highway was built in New Orleans in the 1960s, like other “urban renewal” projects in the U.S., it ripped through a predominantly Black neighborhood that had been thriving. Hundreds of homes were razed. Hundreds of businesses were lost. On Claiborne Avenue, the central boulevard in the neighborhood, hundreds of oak trees were torn out of a wide median that neighbors had used as a park. A coalition of community members now want to take the aging highway down—and it’s the type of project that the new administration could help make possible.

“There was a lot of disinvestment after buildings fell into disrepair. We lost a lot of historic building stock in terms of homes and commercial buildings,” says Amy Stelly, a designer and plannerwhose family has lived in the community for generations and who is now part of Claiborne Avenue Alliance, the group pushing to restore the former boulevard. “And it also changed the climate, because we now have cars instead of trees.” The now-missing park in the center of the avenue had mitigated the urban heat island, the effect that makes concrete-filled neighborhoods hotter on hot days. The greenery had also helped absorb rainwater in storms. As the new highway physically divided the area and destroyed the neighborhood’s economy, it also added pollution: People living nearby have a higher risk of asthma and other diseases.

Cities throughout the country are facing the same challenges—almost always in communities of color—and as roads wear out they now have the choice of repairing highways or completely transforming them. “There are many highways in the United States that are simply underutilized and therefore are ripe targets,” says Ben Crowther, who studies urban highway removal at the nonprofit Congress for New Urbanism. The nonprofit publishes biannual reports about which highways should come down first.

In Rochester, New York, for example, an “inner loop” highway had less traffic than a typical city street; the highway is now being removed, opening up land that can be used to build housing and new businesses. The city worked with the community living next to the highway to create a new vision for the area, and then gave developers requirements such as building affordable housing to help avoid forcing residents out of the neighborhood as property values increase. Crowther says that it’s critical for cities to have antidisplacement strategies in place before a highway comes down and a neighborhood suddenly becomes a desirable place to live again.
The federal government helped pay for the highways built through American cities in the middle of the 20th century. Now, federal policy could help transform those neighborhoods again, this time with a focus on equity and the environment. “Since it’s a product of the federal government, I think there’s also an imperative that the federal government takes a look at how we can repair some of the damage it could cause,” Crowther says.

The government should create a new competitive grant program to help cities and states deconstruct outdated urban highways and redesign neighborhoods, says a recent report from the nonprofits Third Way and Transportation for America. The report also recommends funding new land trusts that would help people living near former highways buy land, open small businesses, and preserve and develop affordable housing. “The land trust component of this was intentionally designed so that the communities that physically benefit don’t find themselves priced out of those benefits,” says Josh Freed, senior vice president for climate and energy at Third Way. The government can also fund new tools to help cities plan how traffic patterns will change; Freed says that it’s a misconception that taking down an elevated highway automatically adds traffic on surface streets.


The Interstate Highway System was one of America's most revolutionary infrastructure projects. It also destroyed urban neighborhoods across the nation.

The 48,000 miles of interstate highway that would be paved across the country during the 1950s, '60s, and '70s were a godsend for many rural communities. But those highways also gutted many cities, with whole neighborhoods torn down or isolated by huge interchanges and wide ribbons of asphalt. Wealthier residents fled to the suburbs, using the highways to commute back in by car. That drained the cities' tax bases and hastened their decline.
 

urbanflight

New Member
Member Bio
Joined
May 20, 2019
Messages
72
Reaction score
145

Bloomberg Citylab: For highway teardown advocates, the legislation is promising news

How the Federal Government Could Help Kill the Highways It Built




A new Senate bill includes a $10 billion program aimed at cities that are considering removing urban freeways and repairing the damage these projects inflicted on vulnerable communities decades ago.

In 1956, the U.S. Congress passed the Federal-Aid Highway Act, the $25 billion program that launched the Interstate Highway System. The law, which encouraged highway construction across the country by offering 90% of the funding needed to build them, left behind a “horrific legacy” in scores of U.S. cities, says University of Virginia historian Peter Norton, author of “Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City.” As cities embraced the benefits of high-speed thoroughfares for suburban commuters, they razed swaths of downtowns and waterfronts — often targeting low-income areas and neighborhoods of color — to make room for the roadways.

Now, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has unveiled legislation that would reverse this decades-old infrastructure formula, offering billions in federal dollars for cities willing to demolish those urban highways.

As Streetsblog reported on Jan. 11, the Economic Justice Act, a spending package worth over $435 billion, includes a $10 billion pilot program that would provide funds for communities to examine transit infrastructure that has divided them along racial and economic lines and potentially alter or remove them. It would also help pay for plans to redevelop reclaimed land. The program contains specific language requiring projects funded through it prioritize equity and avoid displacement. It also provides grants meant to facilitate community engagement and participation as well as construction.

“It’s the first time that we’ve seen this in terms of highway removal, this sort of prioritization of people first and the [impacts] and outcomes on their lives,” says Ben Crowther, a program manager at the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU). His organization helped to write the text of the bill’s highway program.

CNU is among a host of advocacy organizations that have been lobbying for the removal of urban highways. Their efforts include a biennial report rounding up the freeways that activists most want to see scrappedand an initiative focused on replacing such thoroughfares with surface level streets and boulevards. Promoters of the idea often cite examples like San Francisco’s Embarcadero Freeway, which was removed in 1991 after sustaining heavy damage in a 1989 earthquake. That project liberated about 100 acres of the city for waterfront development. More recently, Rochester, New York filled in a segment of sunken expressway that encircles the city’s downtown and is now exploring removing the rest of the loop. As of last year, CNU recorded close to 20 American cities that had removed highways or committed to doing so. The phenomenon isn’t unique to the U.S., either. Seoul tackled a similar project in the mid-2000s, and Madrid moved to transform a highway into a park late last decade.

The bill’s timing is particularly auspicious. While it will need to navigate a Congress riven by political tensions, Democrats control the legislative branch and the White House. Pete Buttigieg — President Joe Biden’s pick to head the Department of Transportation — has been outspoken about the damage that transportation projects have done in the past. “Black and brown neighborhoods have been disproportionately divided by highway projects or left isolated by the lack of adequate transit and transportation resources,” he said in a Dec. 20 tweet. “In the Biden-Harris administration, we will make righting these wrongs an imperative.”

The Biden administration has identified racial equity and climate change as two of four “overlapping and compounding crises” it wants to tackle. On Wednesday, the president issued an executive order tasking the Justice Department with establishing an environmental justice office. The current national focus on those topics, taken with the fact that many urban highways built in the 1960s are now reaching the end of their life cycles, make this moment a crucial one for a conversation around transportation equity and highway removal, according to Sara Zewde, an assistant professor at Harvard University and principal of design firm Studio Zewde. “Those three happening at the same time is really an inflection point,” she says.

(...)
 

slapped_chicken

New Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 11, 2020
Messages
93
Reaction score
311
Location
Whitby/North York
The sad thing is, considering an elevated expressway teardown, Toronto is in a better position (from a transit capacity perspective) than most of those US cities that are committed to expressway teardowns. Unlike a lot of these cities, we have a large regional/commuter rail system that shuttles people downtown from just about every suburban city, a highly popular subway system and already high transit+walking+cycling usage for downtown trips. Cities like Seattle, Buffalo, Detroit, Milwaukee or even Portland don't even have a quarter of the CBD-bound transit capacity that we have. We can easily absorb the extra demand (which will largely be placed on GO, which does have excess capacity). Usually I like to hope Toronto inspires the [usually less progressive] American cities with their initiatives, but in this case with teardowns it's the opposite, which kinda makes me laugh lol
 

Amare

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Feb 4, 2015
Messages
3,376
Reaction score
3,803
Location
Toronto
We can easily absorb the extra demand (which will largely be placed on GO, which does have excess capacity). Usually I like to hope Toronto inspires the [usually less progressive] American cities with their initiatives, but in this case with teardowns it's the opposite, which kinda makes me laugh lol
You're thinking exactly like Metrolinx did 10 years ago.

ie: Oh the TTC can handle all Toronto commuters just fine, so we'll just continue to neglect Toronto in favor of the 905 commuters. Reality check is, there are various GO lines that are near capacity during the rush hour (ie: Lakeshore West and Milton), and the TTC is crippled to capacity during the rush hour. Toronto's transit system is not equipped to handle the large influx of demand like you seem to think i'm afraid.
 

slapped_chicken

New Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 11, 2020
Messages
93
Reaction score
311
Location
Whitby/North York
You're thinking exactly like Metrolinx did 10 years ago.

ie: Oh the TTC can handle all Toronto commuters just fine, so we'll just continue to neglect Toronto in favor of the 905 commuters. Reality check is, there are various GO lines that are near capacity during the rush hour (ie: Lakeshore West and Milton), and the TTC is crippled to capacity during the rush hour. Toronto's transit system is not equipped to handle the large influx of demand like you seem to think i'm afraid.

There won't be such a large influx of demand if we suddenly decided to blow the Gardiner to smithereens; also removing it would never "favour 905 commuters" :p

~70% of the users of the Gardiner are from outside Toronto, and auto modal share for Toronto's downtown is something like 20% or less. So, something like 6% (or less) of trips to downtown Toronto are from auto-users from within Toronto. Of those 6%, a smaller percentage use the Gardiner. From that smaller percentage, it will be split into a pair of even smaller percentages representing how many people switch to transit versus how many continue driving. Then, that small percentage that chooses transit will be distributed over GO, subway lines, etc.

GO will have 4 times the capacity it has now by RER, so it's not an issue at all; by the time ridership fully recovers, a lot of GO expansion will be completed on some lines. Unlike Line 1, the GO lines have a lot of room to add capacity. All concern should be had with the subway's DT capacity problems which will only be alleviated by OL/RL, and the smaller increase allowed by Line 1's ATC.

Still I don't think any of this is even an excuse to keep the Gardiner up. We have better transit than most big cities on this continent, and better than many of the cities that are demolishing their elevated expressways, so why aren't we doing the same?
 

Towered

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 24, 2007
Messages
5,876
Reaction score
4,244
Still I don't think any of this is even an excuse to keep the Gardiner up. We have better transit than most big cities on this continent, and better than many of the cities that are demolishing their elevated expressways, so why aren't we doing the same?

Because our feeble leadership at city hall is perpetually afraid of enraging drivers from Etobicoke, North York and Scarborough. Makes me sick. We need someone to take a stand against this mentality. Unfortunately, by the time of the next municipal election, the Gardiner rebuild will be in full swing, too late to stop it. Plus, no potential candidate will be able to take out John Tory. He's not vulnerable from either end of the political spectrum. Looks like we're stuck with the Gardiner (and Billy Bishop) for the rest of our lives.
 

Amare

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Feb 4, 2015
Messages
3,376
Reaction score
3,803
Location
Toronto
There won't be such a large influx of demand if we suddenly decided to blow the Gardiner to smithereens; also removing it would never "favour 905 commuters" :p

~70% of the users of the Gardiner are from outside Toronto, and auto modal share for Toronto's downtown is something like 20% or less. So, something like 6% (or less) of trips to downtown Toronto are from auto-users from within Toronto. Of those 6%, a smaller percentage use the Gardiner. From that smaller percentage, it will be split into a pair of even smaller percentages representing how many people switch to transit versus how many continue driving. Then, that small percentage that chooses transit will be distributed over GO, subway lines, etc.

GO will have 4 times the capacity it has now by RER, so it's not an issue at all; by the time ridership fully recovers, a lot of GO expansion will be completed on some lines. Unlike Line 1, the GO lines have a lot of room to add capacity. All concern should be had with the subway's DT capacity problems which will only be alleviated by OL/RL, and the smaller increase allowed by Line 1's ATC.

Still I don't think any of this is even an excuse to keep the Gardiner up. We have better transit than most big cities on this continent, and better than many of the cities that are demolishing their elevated expressways, so why aren't we doing the same?
Nice numbers you pulled to support your statements.

So let's assume that these numbers are all correct, the problem is that even with GO RER (or whatever Metrolinx is calling it these days) coming online in the future, will they be able to attract riders away from their cars? The current model of offering free parking to entice drivers into the system is flawed and they know it, which is why Metrolinx has been looking into potentially charging for spots (amongst other solutions). You can only build so much parking, and they are losing money with each net new space of parking that they build.

In order for the whole RER concept to be successful, there needs to be both high levels of transit oriented development (in the 905) as well as effective last mile solutions to transit. If you look at the current situation, transit oriented development in the 905 is pathetically bad as the province is currently focused on jamming development down Toronto's throat. Meanwhile the transit situation in many 905 municipalities is piss poor (ie: Burlington, Oakville, Hamilton, Milton, etc...).

Now why do i mention all this? If Metrolinx cant entice riders away from their cars in the 905, RER will not be as effective as you think to the point that car trips will decrease substantially, thus the Gardiner would still serve as a crucial link. There's no doubt that RER will be successful in Toronto because the density and transit connections already exist, but the same does no hold true in many 905 communities.

With regards to Toronto's use of the Gardiner, many drivers simply avoid it in favor of the Lake Shore because it's jammed before they can even get on and use it. I suspect the demand is a lot greater than what we're being led to believe. Also let's remember, Toronto is only growing bigger and transit development has slowed significantly and hasnt kept pace with growth. RER will help, but only in certain corridors of the city.
 
Last edited:

slapped_chicken

New Member
Member Bio
Joined
Sep 11, 2020
Messages
93
Reaction score
311
Location
Whitby/North York
Nice numbers you pulled to support your statements.

So let's assume that these numbers are all correct, the problem is that even with GO RER (or whatever Metrolinx is calling it these days) coming online in the future, will they be able to attract riders away from their cars?

Honestly, this might sound a little mean to drivers, but my solution would be to slap a congestion charge on all traffic entering downtown. At some point you can't lure people out of their cars with even the best transit, so then you have to make it more difficult to drive downtown in the first place. At the same time, ML has released BRT plans for Durham, Mississauga, Brampton, and Oakville, and there is existing infra in York Region that can accomodate more service. Bus systems in Peel region are coming closer to that in Toronto with grid-based frequent networks; and there's been some sort of attempt at that in Durham too (although less impressive). These will all encourage users in the 905 to use transit as a last-mile option. York region is slacking, though, considering their size. Perhaps ridesharing could be another option too - it would be useful for places like Milton or Newmarket that are out in the boonies and sparsely populated.

With regards to TOD, you're right, the 905 is pathetically awful at pushing for intense TOD around GO stations, with the exception of the Port Credit and Brampton's DT station, and maybe Unionville in the future.

Also remember that even though the Gardiner would be getting removed, it would be replaced by a large boulevard for those who still choose to drive. It would just be slower, safer, cleaner and better integrated into the city. But spending half the city's road budget on a small elevated highway segment to cater to the remaining drivers that make up a minority of downtown trips is silly, to me at least. Maybe even sillier than tunnelling subways through greenfields;)
 

afransen

Senior Member
Member Bio
Joined
Apr 22, 2007
Messages
3,797
Reaction score
2,085
Mississauga is planning intensification around Cooksville GO as part of their downtown plan, but still a long way away. And of course, on the wrong side of the station without a good pedestrian connection!
 

Top