Saturday, October 7, 2017
The most popular new post so far in 2017 has been a collection entitled “Toronto’s Abandoned Roads“. It contains links to a dozen posts about sections of road in Toronto that have been closed for various lengths of time but can still be identified and explored. There is a closed ramp to the Don Valley Parkway (DVP) that has been on my “to do” list for a long time. You can’t park on York Mills but it is only a short walk from Lochinvar, where you can park for free. The Google Maps picture below shows the remains of the ramp as it appeared in 2016.
When the DVP was built the 1960’s the ramp was opened in a partial cloverleaf that did not include the northeast corner. As the highway got busier the ramp in the northwest quadrant became the site of an increasing number of accidents. Westbound traffic on York Mills entered the highway into the southbound lanes in close proximity to the exit ramp for southbound motorists who wanted to get off the DVP. Cars slowing down right where others were trying to get up to highway speed proved to be a bad combination. In 2005 it was decided to close the ramp and the section along the side of York Mills Road was removed and replaced with landscaping that hides the fact that there is an old ramp just out of sight.
The old road surface is already showing the signs of neglect. The picture below shows the end of the pavement near York Mills. There are trees growing through cracks in the pavement.
When the ramp was in use a ring of maple trees circled the inside of the ramp. Today the area inside the ramp has been taken over by first-generation regrowth. There has been some planting of white oak trees and other native trees and shrubs and now the open grass field has been transformed into a little oasis just metres away from the rush of the DVP.
The afternoon had turned warm at 19 degrees with only a slight breeze and I was pleasantly surprised to hear the call of cicadas in the trees. I saw this large cottontail rabbit that paused to get his picture taken. Cottontail rabbits are seldom seen on windy days because the wind interferes with their hearing which is their primary defence against predators.
An old sign prohibiting stopping can be seen beside what once served as a pedestrian walkway alongside the ramp.
A little farther along the old road, I came to a small trail leading into the trees along the side of the ramp. The entrance to the trail was marked with a large amount of coyote scat which gave me a pretty good idea of what the rabbit had been listening for.
In the days before this sound barrier was constructed cars entered the DVP at this point.
This Google Earth shot was captured in 2002 at which time the ramp was still in use. A car can be seen as it approaches the curve at the top of the ramp.
We have investigated several other closed sections of road, some of which have been out of service for many years. It was good to see how much had been reclaimed in just twelve years to get a perspective on how fast nature moves back in.
Google Maps Link: DVP and York Mills
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