Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A warped view of the Gardiner


Every now and then, stories that I've read about in the news will stay and mull about in my head.  Often, it'll be connected to something I've heard a lot about.  Today, I want to touch on Toronto's Gardiner Expressway.

For those who live in or near Toronto, it's an elevated highway that has some very big maintenance issues that have caused it to be in the news for a lot of the year.  Due to a lack of maintenance, chunks of concrete keep falling off of it, during what looks like periods of thermal contraction.  That's what the news has focused on.  That's what the residents of Toronto have thought was it's only major problem.

For those who've never been to Toronto, or heard of this expressway.  Let me paint a different picture of the same thing.

Where Toronto now stands, a huge glacier once stood.  This glacier was a number of times taller than the present CN Tower, and it was so heavy that it pushed the earth's crust down where it stood.  When the glacier receded, the ground started to recover by rising back up.  Even today, Toronto is still rising at a rate of 2mm per year.  Toronto also has a reclaimed waterline. This new land is made up from loose soil that was historically dug out of basements, foundations, and other items of the city's past infrastructure.  Sitting on top of this reclaimed shoreline is an elevated 6 lane highway.  The highway was built in the early 1960's, so it's basically 50 years old.  Doing the math, during this expressway's lifetime, Toronto has risen (50 years X 2mm) about 10cm. 

Common sense tells me this thing should be developing humps and dips from where the ground is warping the structure, and secondly, I'd question how it'd react if we ever had a serious earthquake in Toronto.  Would it survive?

The biggest question though in my mind is why is the media not covering this aspect of it's demise?  Is the obvious really not that obvious to them?