Tory won't reopen Gardiner repair debate despite $1B cost spike
Mayor John Tory says he welcomes the revised upward estimate to fix the Gardiner and adds that it’s time to get on with rehabilitating the expressway.
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Mayor John Tory won’t support reopening the debate over the Gardiner Expressway even though the cost to fix it has ballooned by $1 billion and there is uncertainty over federal funding.
“We have had discussions on a number of these projects over and over and over again,” Tory said Monday.
“No matter what decision is made, no matter by how big a margin at city council, there are always those who want to reopen them, usually the people on the losing end of the vote.”
Last week, city staff released a report saying the estimated cost to repair the entire Gardiner had jumped from $2.6 billion to $3.6 billion.
That includes an added $468 million to rebuild the 1.7-kilometre section east of Jarvis St., which now has a price tag of $1.4 billion. In 2015, council narrowly voted 24-21 to rebuild that section rather than the cheaper alternative of tearing it down and replacing it with a boulevard.
Nevertheless, Tory said Monday that council’s decision stands and it’s now time to get on with rehabilitating the Gardiner and raising money to do that, including using revenue generated from tolls paid by motorists using the expressway and the Don Valley Parkway.
The Gardiner is “going to be part of our transportation infrastructure going forward for a long time to come,” he said, adding “at least we’re getting realistic numbers now.”
And Tory said while the cost was also adjusted to reflect some “uncertainty about some federal money,” he still believes the funds could be forthcoming.
The mayor was speaking to reporters after touring the new York University subway station, slated to open in December 2017. The backdrop was to show that new transit projects can get built – as long as there’s money to foot the bill.
Last week, the city manager released a report recommending council consider a series of revenue tools including putting road tolls on the Gardiner and DVP, measures Tory supports.
A suggested $2 toll would raise close to $5 billion over 30 years, according to city staff.
Tory said Monday that imposing tolls would be at “step forward beyond any step that has ever been taken,” but they’ve never been considered in the past because “people were afraid to be honest.”
The honest thing to say is “we can’t fix traffic without building transit, and we can’t build transit without telling you it’s not free,” he told reporters standing next to an entrance into the sprawling university campus.
Tory previously opposed road tolls but says it came down to three options to pay for the city’s share in $33 billion unfunded capital projects: a “massive” increase in property taxes, selling assets, or introducing revenue tools, such as tolls, which he called the more “reasonable” option.