The uninviting aesthetic of the Gardiner Expressway and the breadth of Lake Shore Boulevard have long been seen as pedestrian barriers to Toronto’s waterfront, but over the weekend a solution in the form of a window-lined footbridge began to take shape.
Installed beneath the Gardiner about 5.5 metres off the ground, the bridge was designed by WZMH Architects (of CN Tower fame) to be pleasing to the eye without creating an obstruction to drivers’ vision. It’s also movable—it rests on posts that allow it to be shifted east or west should the aging roadway above require repairs. It was assembled elsewhere so that it could be put in place quickly, and carried to the construction site on a massive transporter.
The bridge starts at the Air Canada Centre and will eventually connect to a new PATH corridor on the south side of Lake Shore, which itself will lead to another pedestrian bridge spanning Harbour Street and linking to RBC Waterpark Place, the bank’s new headquarters. That part of the project is to be completed sometime next month, and the whole pathway should be open to the public in October.
WZMH architect John White told the CBC he wants to dispel the notion that the Gardiner is keeping Torontonians from enjoying their waterfront: “We always want to rip down the Gardiner because we think it separates the city from the waterfront. But it’s the rail lands that separated us from the water—never the Gardiner. It’s because of the Gardiner that we can do this.”