The Gardiner Expressway’s underpass is about to get a makeover.
According to the Waterfront BIA, the underpass at Lakeshore Blvd and Rees Street is being painted as part of a new program to create safer, more accessible, and attractive connections between the downtown core and the waterfront.
“Toronto has a beautiful, iconic waterfront, but walking under the Gardiner Expressway is not the most welcoming gateway to get here,” said Tim Kocur, executive director of the Waterfront BIA.
“A key priority for our organization is to improve these north-south connections to the water and this is a crucial first step.”
The new designs being implemented are part of “Waterfront ReConnect,” a visionary plan to improve the north-south connections under the Gardiner through downtown.
The improvements include gold paint of bents to “frame the room” and reflect light under the Gardiner, enhanced “zebra” pedestrian markings with Vision Zero goals of increased safety and accessibility, and “whispers” text and quotes on signposts welcoming visitors to the neighbourhood.
The BIA said the plan was developed by Ken Greenberg and PUBLIC WORK, renowned Toronto-based urban designers responsible for concepts that became The Bentway.
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“This Waterfront ReConnect treatment of the Rees Street passage under the Gardiner Expressway represents an important first step in re-stitching the two sides together acknowledging the growing desire to get to the central waterfront and making the journey safer, more intuitive, and attractive for residents and visitors. It is the beginning of a much broader effort with many partners,” said Ken Greenberg, urban designer and leader of ‘Waterfront ReConnect.’
Councillor Joe Cressy said that enhancing connections to and from the waterfront is critical to building safe and welcoming neighbourhoods.
“This collaboration of City of Toronto staff, Waterfront Toronto and the Waterfront BIA shows the importance of partnerships in improving our city,” he said.
The Waterfront BIA said it will be submitting the plan to the City of Toronto with the goal of encouraging a unified Gardiner underpass vision throughout the downtown core.