05/24/2012 02:03 EDT | Updated 07/24/2012 05:12 EDT

Sidewalks under Gardiner may be closed for safety reasons

The City of Toronto may close certain portions of sidewalks and lanes under the Gardiner Expressway as a precautionary measure in the wake of three incidents involving falling concrete.

The city, starting immediately, will start "to close or protect as appropriate any areas where we believe there may be a pedestrian safety risk," according to a document distributed to media on Thursday.

All pedestrian areas under the Gardiner will be inspected and protected by Friday. Travel lanes may also be closed, and closures or protection may last until any material at risk of falling has been removed.

“This is proactive action that we are taking to ensure the safety of the Gardiner Expressway,” Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong told reporters Thursday.

A scheduled annual inspection is due to begin Friday.

Meanwhile, all sections of roadway in the Gardiner are expected to be inspected by June 15.

The measures taken by the city come after three separate incidents in which loose concrete from the underbelly of the Gardiner fell on to the roadway below.

On Tuesday, some pieces of concrete fell onto the sidewalk on the northeast corner of Lower Simcoe Street and Lake Shore Boulevard.

In a prior incident this month,a single piece of concrete fell from the underside of the overpass onto Lake Shore Boulevard near Lower Jarvis Street. A separate incident days later saw another piece fall from the underside of the Gardiner onto Parkside Drive near Lake Shore Boulevard West.

Minnan-Wong said that “one incident is a freak occurrence, a second incident becomes troubling, but when you have a third incident happening, then you start to connect data points and you have a trend.”

That “troubling trend” justifies the steps the city is taking to ensure that the Gardiner Expressway is safe, he said.