Black Creek Drive


Black Creek Drive

Black Creek Drive is a north-south arterial road in Toronto, Ontario that extends from the Highway 400/Highway 401 in the north to Weston Road in the south. It forms a crucial part of Toronto's municipal expressway system. It is a limited-access highway with at-grade intersections with Lawrence Avenue West, Trethewey Drive, Todd Baylis Boulevard (formerly Keelesdale Drive), Eglinton Avenue, and Weston Road.

History

By 1966, the province had completed the first leg of the Highway 400 Extension southeasterly to Jane Street, and had acquired the necessary lands through the Black Creek Valley down to Eglinton Avenue (which, at the time, was mostly farmland). This was part of an ambitious project, which included links to the proposed Crosstown and Richview Expressways, and would continue down from Highway 401 along its present alignment (connecting with the Richview at present-day Eglinton Avenue), then following Weston Road and the CP alignment along Dupont Street (connecting with the Crosstown at present-day Christie Street), before continuing southward along Christie and Clinton Streets to the Gardiner Expressway. Alternate alignments included one following Parkside Drive south to the Gardiner, and one following the CN tracks south to Front Street, before continuing onto the Gardiner.The cancellation of the Spadina Expressway in 1971 spelled the end of expressway projects in Toronto, including the Crosstown and the Richview Expressways. However, the Highway 400 Extension was still being considered as a possibility, and the Province still intended to extend Highway 400 south to Eglinton Avenue.

The provincial government still owned the right-of-way along the Black Creek Valley and agreed to construct it as a four-lane arterial road, instead of a grade-separated expressway. The Metro Toronto government agreed to further extend it south to St. Clair Avenue. The Province began construction on the 400 Extension in 1976.

Fresh from battling the Spadina Expressway, anti-Spadina groups started battling the extension, and soon, Parkdale residents joined in the debate, fearing an extension would pass directly through their neighbourhood. Additionally, the City of Toronto objected to the construction of the road south to St. Clair Avenue. A compromise was reached over Weston Road; the 400 Extension would end there, but Weston Road would be widened to support the flow of traffic from Black Creek Drive.

The roadway opened in 1982 as the Northwest Arterial Road by the province, from Jane Street south to Weston Road, and was immediately transferred to Metro Toronto and re-designated as a controlled-access roadway. The province proposed renaming the road to "Black Creek Parkway", but the less threatening Black Creek Drive was preferred by Metro.

Many critics pointed out that all that the anti-Spadina groups have accomplished in the 1970s was to give Toronto two half-expressways only capable of reaching Eglinton Avenue, neither making it to Bloor Street or the Gardiner Expressway. In retrospect, critics argue, it would have been better for Metro Toronto and the province to concentrate on choosing either the Spadina Expressway or Black Creek Drive. A transportation plan review carried out in the 1970s, which recommended the construction of Black Creek Drive actually stated that the 400 Extension would do a better job than the Spadina Expressway because it was further west and away from the central core.

Today

Weston Road and Keele Street, which take most of the traffic flow to and from Black Creek Drive, are among the most congested roads in the city. Additionally, connections to the Gardiner are weak; traffic must pass through a number of residential areas (and numerous traffic lights) before finally arriving at Lake Shore Boulevard, after which, traffic must continue along that street before an entrance to the Gardiner is possible. The speed limit on Black Creek Drive is 70 km/h (45 mph) for the most part.

Black Creek Drive is one of the few at-grade expressways in Ontario; there is land for interchanges and overpasses needed to make Black Creek Drive a complete controlled access freeway. Furthermore, it has the capacity to be widened to 6 lanes. However, potential expansion capacity has not been exploited and as a result the expressway operates relatively inefficiently due to its current limitations.

References

* [http://www.gettorontomoving.ca/crosstown_express-33.html The Crosstown Expressway, Highway 400 Extension & Richview Expressway]
* [http://maps.google.ca/maps?f=d&hl=en&geocode=&saddr=Weston+Rd+%26+Black+Creek+Dr+York,+ON&daddr=HWY-400+%26+Black+Creek+Dr+North+York,+ON&mrcr=0&mra=pe&sll=43.696665,-79.49292&sspn=0.052127,0.11673&ie=UTF8&z=13&om=1 Google Maps of Black Creek Drive]


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