UrbanToronto has extensively followed the extension of the PATH system south from the Air Canada Centre, when a series of three bridges where installed, consequently running from the ACC to the edge of Lake Shore Boulevard, under the Gardiner Expressway, and over Harbour Street while going through Menkes' Sun Life Financial Tower and Harbour Plaza Residences currently under construction, and Oxford Properties' RBC Waterpark Place III, ending with its south portal on Queens Quay.
Hosted by John White, a principal at WZMH Architects, a newly released video shows how these important pieces of infrastructure in our city's pedestrian network were installed. Indeed, in an effort to expand the business district towards the Southcore District where thousands of workers and residents have moved and will continue to move in, a safe pedestrian-friendly connection was necessary; a link between Union Station in the downtown core and the revitalized Waterfront area.
Boosted by the Waterpark Place III lead tenant RBC who needed a connection to the PATH, a solution had to be found to extend the network (30 kilometres long, according to the Guinness Book or World Records) in a heavily urbanized area. John White explains how a tunnel was inappropriate, as it would have had to snake around some of the buildings' foundations, underground parking garages, and not to forget water, the neighbourhood actually being built on reclaimed land.
The bridge solution was the easiest, straightest, fastest—and as it turns out, the most impressive one too. Sheathed in transparent glass, pedestrians enjoy unusual views when crossing Lake Shore Boulevard and Harbour Street, a way to give people "a different perspective of Toronto" as well as "a gateway to the waterfront", "opening up that whole section of the city that people tended to think was a barrier", according to White. In a forward-thinking mindset, the bridge under the Gardiner was built on tracks to be moveable to the west to accommodate occasional repairs on the crumbling Gardiner Expressway above.
Pre-assembled on a site near Parliament and Lake Shore, the bridges—the last section of which was installed this past September—will officially open this month along with Waterpark Place III - although they are already in use. When you need to, you can now walk, protected from the elements, from the Toronto Coach Terminal at Bay and Dundas, all the way down to Queens Quay (with a very short and temporary opening at Union Station's Front Street moat, soon to be enclosed).
Want to know more about the buildings connected by this extension? Check out UrbanToronto's dataBase files for the project, linked below. If you want to talk about it, join in on the conversation in one of the associated Forum threads, or leave a comment in the space provided at the bottom of this page.