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Toronto studying road toll technology for Gardiner, DVP
A consultant will look at various road pricing scenarios for the Gardiner and Don Valley Parkway.
March 15, 2016
Tess Kalinowski

Politicians, including Toronto’s mayor, don’t like them. But the prohibitive cost of rebuilding the east end of the Gardiner Expressway means the city is moving forward on a study of road tolls.

Last Friday city staff issued a call for a consultant to report on suitable tolling technologies and potential impacts of road pricing on the Gardiner and Don Valley Parkway.

The tolls, which would be a tough sell on city council, would be designed to recover the estimated $2.5 billion cost of rebuilding the east end of the Gardiner and potentially reducing congestion and raising money for other infrastructure projects.

A mayor’s spokeswoman reiterated Tuesday that John Tory doesn’t particularly like the idea.
“A broader discussion around new ways of raising revenue will begin in April when the city manager presents his long-term financial plan. Road and congestion pricing will almost certainly be part of that as one item on a long list of possibilities,” said Keerthana Kamalavasan.

“The mayor does not wish to pre-empt that discussion but his views on road tolls are well documented: it would not be his preferred way to pay for road infrastructure,” she said.

According to a request for proposals, the city’s study, expected to take about six months to complete, will look at no fewer than eight tolling scenarios. Those would include pricing schemes based on a flat rate; a distance-based price; fees that vary according to the number of passengers in a vehicle or type of vehicle; and a bulk buy or monthly pass system.

It will also consider the potential impacts of a gantry toll system such as that used on Highway 407 or a cordon system similar to that in London, England, where drivers pay for entering a certain area.

The consultants will look at where the toll points would be across the entire length of both roads — the Gardiner between Highway 427 and Leslie St., and the Don Valley Parkway between Highway 401 and the Gardiner.

The toll feasibility study will include variable pricing options based on the time of day or day of the week, as well as financial targets over a 30-year timeline assuming that the tolls wouldn’t be implemented until at least 2024.

A city staff study last year found that a $3.25 flat rate on the Gardiner and 35-cents-per-kilometre distance fee could recover the Gardiner capital and maintenance costs in 10 years.

During the recent city budget cycle the city manager and some councillors warned that Toronto can’t afford to maintain the services it wants without new revenue tools to help pay for them.

Tory has asked the province to allow the city to use photo radar as a means to reducing policing costs.

The road pricing report, approved by the city’s executive committee in September, would come back to council later this year.