Laying the Groundwork for the Future Development of Toronto’s Port Lands
The Port Lands Flood Protection & Enabling Infrastructure Project currently underway in Toronto is a more than $1 billion project that will revitalize the 800-acre Port Lands area of the city to create a vibrant community. The project has two primary goals: comprehensive flood protection for the Port Lands, and the creation of crucial infrastructure that will support creative and economic growth in the area. The former will enable the latter.
The project consists of multiple contracts that Entuitive is proud to be a part of. Our team was selected by Waterfront Toronto as the Prime Consultant on the Port Lands four new signature bridges. We are also working on the Lake Shore Bridge project and the integration of the Port Lands with the East Harbour Development.
Below, we outline each scope as well as the technical solutions we’ve designed. We’re excited and proud to be working on such a transformational project for the great city of Toronto.
Port Lands Signature Bridges
Managing eight subconsultants, Entuitive’s scope here included the design and construction of four new signature bridges (Cherry Street North, LRT, Cherry Street South, and Commissioners Street) as well as the demolition of the existing Cherry Street Bridge.
Entuitive designed all four bridges to serve as elegant, modern landmarks significant to the city. They will accommodate vehicular traffic, an interim BRT, future LRT, dedicated bike lane, and generous sidewalks that will double as public space.
The bridges are steel tied arch structures using open steel plate/shell elements with many of the plates in double curvature. The bridge lengths vary from 56.1 m to 151.8 m. Foundations for the bridges are drilled piers varying from 1.8 m to 2.4 m in diameter socketed into bed rock.
To learn more about the challenges and solutions Entuitive delivered for these bridges, read this article dedicated to that subject.
Lake Shore Boulevard East Bridge Extension and Public Realm Redevelopment
Our team is also serving as Prime Consultant on the Lake Shore Boulevard East Bridge Extension and Public Realm Redevelopment. This project involves over 900 metres of road and streetscape reconstruction that spans from west of the Don River to Carlaw Avenue on Lake Shore Boulevard East (LSBE). The public realm over the bridge and along a long portion of this corridor is currently limited with minimal landscaping as it is covered by the overhead Gardiner Expressway off ramps. The project, which has already started construction, has demolished these overhead ramps, and will further widen and lengthen the existing LSBE Bridge to cross the widened Don River (part of the flood protection aspect of the larger project), and add new pedestrian and cycling facilities as well as landscaping to create a more inviting, distinctive urban boulevard.
To date, we have faced two main challenges on this aspect of the project.
Building a Better Bridge to Accommodate the Future Community
One challenge that came up early in our work was the need to construct the LSBE bridge extension directly below the Gardiner Expressway ramps while it remained active. At the same time, there was recognition that the ramps would eventually be demolished in accordance with the Gardiner Expressway and Lake Shore Boulevard East Reconfiguration Environmental Assessment (Gardiner East EA). Working closely with Waterfront Toronto, City of Toronto and EllisDon, we developed several schemes of bridge layout and construction that considered the ramps in place and with the ramps removed. This enabled a thorough evaluation of the benefits and risks to constructing the bridge below the active ramps versus demolishing the ramps and then building the bridge.
It was determined that the benefits of building the bridge with no ramps in place outweighed the impacts of the early demolition of the ramps by decreasing the risks and complexities of the bridge construction. Additionally, the new bridge could be more efficiently designed and optimized for the Port Lands flood protection. With the obstructions by the Gardiner Expressway ramps structure removed, we were further tasked with designing the full reconstruction and extension of the LSBE Bridge. This set the stage to designing a widened bridge that could accommodate the future needs of the public occupying and visiting the new Port Lands community.
As we performed this work, it was key to collaborate with all stakeholders including the City of Toronto and Waterfront Toronto. Without this collaboration and back and forth line of communication, we would not be able to successfully design for the current and future needs of the community.
Redesigning Lake Shore Boulevard East with Future Needs in Mind
As mentioned, much of the work we’re doing is future focused. The Port Lands Flood Protection Project is meant to create a futuristic community. Similarly, through the demolition of the Gardiner Expressway ramps, the reconstruction of LSBE can be designed for the future by providing an urban civic boulevard that includes public realm enhancements for the comfort and safety of non-vehicle users. These enhancements include the addition of a dedicated cycling path and separate pedestrian walkway, traffic calming measures and increased landscaped areas designed for sustainable operations and maintenance. All of this combined will make travelling along this stretch of Lake Shore more convenient and comfortable across a wider range of transportation modes.
What’s interesting about this project is the potential future developments that it will connect to. Through planning frameworks, precinct plans and Environmental Assessments (EAs), Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto have laid out plans for significant urban renewal of the underutilized Port Lands. For the reconstruction of LSBE, the challenge was designing a roadway and streetscape that would work for the needs of today while also considering the future needs of the site and communities that are proposed be developed on either side of it, including East Harbour to the north and McCleary District to the south.
Once again, the key to developing a successful design was a collaborative spirit and working closely with Waterfront Toronto and the City of Toronto to determine these needs.
Entuitive’s work on the Lake Shore Boulevard East reconstruction continues as the project continues to evolve. Stay tuned for further updates in the future.