We’ve looked at a few abandoned roads before, but this one is a little different: it’s a recently-abandoned on-ramp to the southbound Don Valley Parkway from westbound York Mills Road. The current DVP ramps at York Mills were reconfigured during construction to the overpass beginning in 2005. The northwestern loop of the cloverleaf was eliminated entirely except for one small detail: most of it is still there. After all, why remove it completely when you can just lop off the ends and hide the rest?
Although the subsequent landscaping at York Mills Road put the ramp’s remnants out of sight, the bulk of the road still sits behind the freshly landscaped embankment, where it’s being slowly consumed by encroaching weeds. The posts that held up corrugated beam safety barriers around the perimeter of the ramp were cut down to the ground and a stone-lined drainage ditch has been dug across the roadway, but the ramp is otherwise intact to within a few metres of the highway.
Although you’re never farther than 100 metres from either York Mills or the DVP, the curving tree-lined ramp quickly isolates you from both. If you shut out the sound of the traffic, it’s not too hard to imagine that this is what the world would begin to look like when we all disappear and nature starts reasserting itself.
The current Google Maps image of the area, probably taken in 2005 or 2006, clearly shows an excavator perched at the very bottom of the ramp, presumably preparing to rip up the 50 metres or so of the roadway that was removed.
At some point, the now-unused land here will probably be sold off for—what else?—condos, and another little piece of Toronto infrastructure will disappear completely. In the meantime, this hidden corner of the city is being rezoned by the local flora.
From York Mills Road on the west side of the Don Valley Parkway, you can easily walk up the grassy hill on the north side to the abandoned ramp. If you’re driving southbound down the Parkway, you can get a glimpse of the ramp in your passenger-side mirror coming right up behind you at the southern edge of the sound barrier just north of the York Mills overpass.
Photos by Val Dodge.