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3 years of Gardiner Expressway lane restrictions start on Monday

City officials say that years-long lane restrictions on a busy stretch of the Gardiner Expressway in Toronto will begin on Monday.

Starting on March 25, preconstruction work will begin to rehabilitate the ageing expressway between Dufferin Street and Strachan Avenue.

“This is critical work,” Jennifer Graham Harkness, the city’s chief engineer, told reporters Tuesday.

“The Gardiner Expressway is 60 years old and it’s time for us to make these major repairs. And we’re working to make sure that our contractor operates as efficiently and effectively as possible to get the work done.”

The preconstruction work will last through April 14 and will involve the closure of one lane, with the intermittent overnight closure of a second lane as required. The eastbound on-ramp from Lake Shore Boulevard east of Jameson Avenue will also be closed intermittently during this period.

All lanes of the expressway will be open over the Easter weekend from March 29 to 30 as well as April 6 to 8.

Then from mid-April, the expressway will be reduced to two lanes in either direction with intermittent additional lane closures as required until some time in 2027. The eastbound on-ramp from Lake Shore Boulevard east of Jameson Avenue will also be closed.

The work is part of a long-term rehabilitation plan for the crumbling 60-year-old expressway, which is being carried out in six stages. The upcoming work is the second stage of the project, with the first stretch from Jarvis Street to Cherry Street having been completed several years back.

Roughly 200,000 vehicles use that stretch of the Gardiner each day, according to city officials.

The $300 million project will involve replacing 700 metres of the elevated bridge surface, rehabilitating the structures underneath that support the elevated expressway, and adding a new traffic management system and streetlights.

To keep traffic moving during construction, the city says it will use a congestion management plan that includes diversions, traffic agents and signal timing adjustments.

“The city is committed to addressing congestion not just on the Gardiner, but across Toronto to help all road users get around the city as safe as possible,” said Roger Browne, the city’s director of traffic management. “We’re working to balance between critical construction and the needs of people and businesses using Toronto’s roads.”

People who live in the area are being advised to expect work noise during construction, which will take place primarily from Monday to Saturday between 7 a.m. and 11 p.m. However the city says they are mindful of the fact people live in the area and they will do what they can to minimize the disruption.

Motorists are being advised to use alternate routes or different means of coming to the area where possible, such as public transit.

The lane restrictions will be lifted during the period when Toronto hosts several FIFA World Cup games in 2026.  

City officials have also said that they are working with other major events, such as the CNE, to try to minimize disruptions from the construction.