Lower Don Trail Detour Through Port Lands Flood Protection / Gardiner Rehabilitation Construction Phasing

By Michael Holloway
Sunday, November 24, 2019

Having digested all the info I have researched over the last 3 days, and after having completed a comprehensive Riding Site Visit today (Sat, Nov 23, 2019) – here’s where I think Ward 14 Bikes’ strategic situation sits with regard to cycling connections across the lake front through the Port Lands Flood Protection and Gardiner Rehabilitation construction projects phasing:

The Gardiner Rehabilitation that is now underway is only between Jarvis and Cherry, it does not include rebuilding the Gardiner to Don Valley Parkway ramps (the part of the project that could close the ‘fork of the Lower Don Trail’).

Instead – the Gardiner/DVP ramp rebuild is slated for 2024-2027 (see image & link below) – AFTER Ellis Don and the Port Lands Flood Protection project has finished ‘steeling’ 1  the edges of the Debris and Sediment Management Area (also, the place where the ‘fork of the LDT’ is located).

Gardiner Rehabilitation Construction Phasing Map

9751-2019-06-25_GardinerRehabilitationConstruction_Map_kkv4-no-highlight
Image via City of Toronto | Gardiner Expressway Rehabilitation Strategy | https://www.toronto.ca/services-payments/streets-parking-transportation/road-maintenance/bridges-and-expressways/expressways/gardiner-expressway/gardiner-expressway-rehabilitation-strategy/

The original construction timeline (see image below) shows that the steeling of the Debris and Sediment Management Area will begin in July 2020. (This means hole boring machines and pile drivers working around the edges of the site). This MIGHT NOT close the Trail connection.

Port Lands Flood Protection Timeline video screen capture, late July 2020 Sediment Management Area Steeling begins

Port Lands Flood Protection Timeline screencapture late July 2020 Fork of the LDT circled Sedimentation Pond Construction begins
Image – Steeling of Debris and Sediment Management Area begins (screen capture from Port Lands Flood Protection Timeline video | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkIKU45yPhs)

The Port Lands Flood Protection Construction Timeline does show an excavation of soil from the Debris and Sedimentation Management Area starting in January 2021.  This part of the project is also extending the LSB / Don Roadway bridge west (see screen capture image below). This part of the project will likely remove soil upon which the trail and the west side cycling bridge abutment sits.

Port Lands Flood Protection Timeline video screen capture, January 2021 Debris and Sediment Basin excavation begins along with LSB / Don Roadway bridge extension west

Port Lands Flood Protection Timeline screencapture January 2021 Debris and Sediment Basin excavation begins along with LSB Don Rd bridge extention west
Image – Excavation of Debris and Sediment Management Area plus extension of LSB Don Roadway bridge begins (screen capture from Port Lands Flood Protection Timeline video | https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkIKU45yPhs)

So to sum up – it is possible that the Lower Don Trail will remain open right through the steeling work finishing at the end of 2020. But the excavation starting January 2021 will likely close the fork of the LDT.

So – separated bike lanes on Villiers should go in as soon as possible – as should bike lanes on Don Roadway – LSB to Villiers; and the existing Bi-directional MUP on the west side of Cherry should be rehabilitated. Both ends of Villiers should get dedicated signal phasing and crossing areas for the bike lanes.

This does not need to have a Environmental Assessment, or a vote at City Council if, I believe, it is treated as a detour through a construction zone – part of a Traffic Safety Plan 2  (mandated by Provincial law and CofT policy) in a Temporary Condition 3  (Ontario law and City of Toronto policy for flow of traffic through construction projects).

Please Discuss.


1  The process of ‘steeling’ the valley edges is happening all along the naturalized river valley. It is accomplished by pounding in, or drilling in, sub-grade piles and retaining walls deep into the fill soil down to Toronto’s bedrock (In the Port Lands – 10 to 41 metres below ground surface). This valley Wall is designed to withstand forces of the river flowing at extreme velocity and volume during a 100 year flood event – like that which happened in 1954 when Hurricane Hazel hit Toronto. An aside: 500 year and 1000(!) year storms appear to be happening with increasing regularity on the eastern seaboard of the US and elsewhere.

2  2016 PW14.1 Road Safety Plan (RSP) 2017-2021 | https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/8b9f-VisionZero-RoadSafetyPlan-StaffReport-10-Jun-2016.pdf

3  Temporary Conditions Book 7, Ontario Traffic Manual | http://www.directtraffic.ca/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/OTM-Book-7-2014.pdf

November 24, 2019
By Michael Holloway
Outreach Coordinator,
Ward 14 Bikes

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