Attention, Gardiner commuters: You've got one more week to use the York-Bay-Yonge off-ramp

Attention, Gardiner commuters: You've got one more week to use the York-Bay-Yonge off-ramp

Buckle up, drivers. The city unveiled more details about the 2017 summer construction season today, including the permanent closure of what Mayor John Tory has called the York-Bay-Yonge "Hot Wheels ramp."

Coun. Jaye Robinson (Ward 25 – Don Valley West), chair of the city's public works and infrastructure committee, discussed plans and schedules for the work at a morning news conference.

The city is spending $700 million this year to maintain and upgrade infrastructure in 2017, Robinson told reporters, including:

- $310 million for roads, expressways and bridges;

- $310 million for sewers and watermains;

- and $70 million for basement flooding protection.

Robinson acknowledged that extensive construction work is "frustrating" for residents, but noted that council is "significantly investing in the future of Toronto."

According to Robinson, the biggest "and most disruptive" job is the demolition of the York-Bay-Yonge Gardiner off-ramp. Commuters on the expressway have one more week to use the ramp before it is closed for good on Monday, April 17 at 5 a.m. The city estimates that 10,000 vehicles use what Tory back in April called the "Hot Wheels ramp" during peak hours. But it will be torn down and replaced with a shorter ramp that will take cars down to Lower Simcoe Street.

That ramp is expected to open in January.

Meanwhile, motorists will have to use the Jameson, Spadina and Jarvis ramps to get into the downtown core. Beginning today, they will also be able to get onto Lake Shore Boulevard from the eastbound Gardiner at Spadina Avenue.

As part of the ramp work, crews will widen Harbour Street to four lanes between Lower Simcoe Street and Bay Street, to both accommodate car traffic and improve access to the waterfront for pedestrians and cyclists, according to a City of Toronto news release.

But while the construction is underway, Harbour Street will be reduced to two lanes of traffic in the area where the work is being done. Between May 1 and June 15, there will be some closures of the centre lane of Harbour Street from Lower Simcoe to Bay.

The work will take place between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday to Saturday, with some overnight work on weekends to demolish part of the ramp over Lower Simcoe and York streets, with additional overnight work possible.

Construction is expected to cost about $30 million.

Some infrastructure 'well-past' service life

During her news conference, Robinson said that some roads, bridges and watermains are "well-past their service life," including watermains that are more than 100 years old. Other major projects include:

- Watermain repair, streetcar track replacement and road resurfacing on Wellington Street from Church Street to York Street.

- Track replacement, watermain work and road resurfacing on Dundas Street from Yonge Street to Church Street.

- Road resurfacing on Birchmount Road from McNicoll Avenue to Steeles Avenue East.

- Road resurfacing and watermain work on Don Mills Road from north of Lawrence Avenue to Wynford Drive.

- Road resurfacing on Burnhamthorpe Road from Dundas Street West to Martin Grove Road.

- Road resurfacing on Lake Shore Boulevard from Leslie Street to Woodbine Avenue.

- Rehabilitation work on the Queensway Bridge over the Humber River.

- TTC track work at Queen and McCaul streets.

Overall, the city expects to resurface some 130 kilometres of road and complete 310 kilometres of sewer and watermain work this year.

Robinson noted that while the majority of projects focused on downtown infrastructure last year, more projects this year are outside the city core. Of the 58 projects on major roads, 38 are in the outer parts of the city, she said.

And 300 local roads will be reconstructed and resurfaced, she said, as well as local watermains and sewers.

The city is also already on a pothole repair blitz, Robinson said. So far this year, 75,000 potholes have been repaired, she said.

In order to minimize traffic congestion, construction hours on key projects will be extended, projects will be bundled so roadways are only dug up once, and traffic lights on nearby streets will be timed to keep cars, pedestrians and cyclists moving, the city said in a news release.

"Toronto is open for business even as we tackle all of these infrastructure projects," Robinson said.