A whole new swathe of land under the Gardiner Expressway is about to get totally transformed with a new pedestrian bridge, lofted seating areas, and a gathering space.
Recently updated plans for the second phase of the Bentway redesign show what is in the works for the upcoming project, completing the connection between Strachan and Spadina Avenues underneath the highway overpass.
Design plans call for a raised pedestrian and cyclist feature bridge running diagonally underneath the Gardiner. Original plans had called for a suspended bridge that would hang from the highway overpass, but the design was changed to a traditional bridge that will rise from the ground because of planned work on the Gardiner itself. This will allow crews to begin work on the Bentway sooner without waiting for the Gardiner work to be finished.
The bridge, however, may still see some slight adjustments to its design. During a recent presentation to the Waterfront Toronto Design Review Panel, concerns were raised that the rather long bridge had no entry or exit points other than at its two ends. And with designs calling for a lengthy off-ramp that doubles back on itself, staircases were recommended to be added at either end to allow quicker access.
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The second, and perhaps most interesting, part of the proposed design is three lofted “rooms” with seating areas integrated into the bridge. Renderings show each adjoining room being crafted out of different materials: wood, concrete, and steel. On the western side of the rooms will be a pathway leading down to new gathering space.
Some concerns were raised that using three different materials for the rooms would result in a disjointed look.
Although the project may see some design tweaks, the City plans to open bids for construction this month.