Driving down the DVP a couple of weeks ago, I noticed an old roadway cutting through the brush just north of York Mills Road. I had a pretty good idea of what it was, but a quick look at Google Maps confirmed my suspicion: it was an abandoned on-ramp to the southbound Don Valley Parkway from westbound York Mills Road. The current DVP ramps at York Mills were reconfigured during construction to the overpass beginning in 2005. The northwestern loop of the cloverleaf was removed entirely. Or was it?
I went back by bike last weekend (the same ride where I blew out a tire) to investigate and was quite surprised by what I found. Not only was virtually the entire ramp still intact, but there had been no attempt to restrict access to it. I was expecting to see the traditional Toronto chain-link fence surrounding the road, but all I had to do was ride up a little hill before I was greeted by the remnants of the ramp in all its glory. I’m not saying that there should be a fence, just that I was expecting one. Toronto officialdom is so paranoid about putting fences and warning signs around everything more challenging than a sidewalk that I never imagined for a second that it wouldn’t be all locked up.
Although the subsequent landscaping at York Mills Road put the ramp’s remnants out of sight, the bulk of the road still sits behind the embankment, where it’s being slowly consumed by encroaching weeds. The posts that held up corrugated beam safety barriers around the perimeter of the ramp were cut down to the ground and a stone-lined drainage ditch has been dug across the roadway, but the ramp is otherwise intact to within a few metres of the highway.
Although you’re never farther than 100 metres from either York Mills or the DVP, the curving tree-lined ramp quickly isolates you from both. Even with the sound of traffic in the background, it’s surprisingly relaxing.
The current Google Maps image of the area, probably taken in 2005 or 2006, clearly shows an excavator perched at the very bottom of the ramp, presumably preparing to rip up the 50 metres or so of the roadway that was removed.
At some point, the now-unused land here will probably be sold off for—what else?—condos, and another little piece of Toronto infrastructure will disappear completely. In the meantime, this hidden corner of the city is being rezoned by the local flora.
A version of this post originally appeared on Torontoist.