5 Toronto infrastructure fails that we should learn from

1. Gardiner Expressway (First sections opened in 1950s)

Back when elevated expressways were in vogue this highway/roadway monstrosity was routed into the heart of downtown. It created a physical barrier from the waterfront as well as massive shadows on the surrounding lands. Today it is falling apart and is an eyesore, but the new buildings popping up around it are beginning to hide it well.


2. Allen Expressway (Opened 1964)

The opposite of the Gardiner, this is a sub terrain expressway. Originally planned to run from 401 all the way downtown through Forrest Hill and down Spadina. Residents about to lose their Victorian homes managed to put a stop to this (aka Spadina Expressway). The expressway was terminated at Eglinton. We now are left with a north south expressway which runs 7 kilometers from Sheppard to Eglinton.

3. Scarborough RT (Opened 1985)

In today’s vernacular “Line 3”. After much debate, instead of extending the Bloor Danforth subway, the brainstrust went with a new at the time RT technology that was made in Canada. This meant that subway users would have to change trains at Kennedy in order to get to Scarborough Centre. After failing to maintain the RT technology, the Scarborough RT was scheduled to be replaced with a modern LRT from David Miller’s Transit City Plan. Then Rob Ford decided that we should actually just extend the Bloor Danforth line and build a Scarborough subway.

4. Sheppard Subway (Opened 2002)

“Line 4”. The subway to suburbia has never come close to meeting ridership projections. Home to some of the least used subway stations on the entire TTC – we are looking at you Bessarion. Many new condos are coming up along the line, so there is still future potential for this 5 stop line.


5. Don River re routing (Early 1900s)

Our predecessors thought it would be a good idea to create a channel (Keating Channel) at a right angle to the mouth of the Don River. This makes the lower Don Lands susceptible to flooding.   This is bad because we could be building condos on these lands.  To fix this problem, Waterfront Toronto has a $1B plan.


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1 Response

  1. Chris says:

    While the RT technology was a disaster, the original non-subway plan made quite a bit of sense. The idea was to build it more or less as it stands now, but using CLRVs. The construction actually started with this as the end goal. The lofted area over the tracks and loop at Kennedy are prime examples of this. Almost all early documents for the line show illustrations of the streetcars.