Queens Quay Reconstruction 2014 (Updated August 21, 2014)

This post has been added to track the reconstruction of the streetcar right-of-way on Queens Quay leading to the resumption of 509/510 Harbourfront and Spadina services on August 31, 2014.

Because the construction work on Queens Quay is being done out of geographical sequence as various stretches of the road become available, this post is organized by block from Bay to west of Spadina.

Current construction details are available from Waterfront Toronto.

Updated August 21, 2014: A photo of car 4400 testing at Queens Quay Loop has been added.

Updated August 20, 2014: Work west of Spadina is now well underway with the track in place and the concrete pour scheduled for this week. This will complete the track construction. Meanwhile, testing of the track and overhead at Queens Quay Loop has begun.

Updated July 29, 2014: Work at Queens Quay and Spadina continues. Most track from there east to the portal at Bay is set in concrete. West of Spadina, the new foundation will be poured soon.

Updated July 17, 2014: Construction of the track west from Spadina to Yo-Yo Ma Lane is now underway with excavation of the roadway.

Updated July 8, 2014: Almost all track is in place between Spadina and the portal west of Bay, although a few finishing touches remain. Overhead poles have been installed along the south side of the streetcar right-of-way from York to just east of Rees, and around the Spadina/Queens Quay intersection. As discussed in a separate article, the TTC now plans to reopen service on Queens Quay on Thanksgiving weekend in October rather than at the end of August when Spadina 510 streetcars will operate only to the loop at Queens Quay.

Correction June 4, 2014: Information that I received about possible resumption of streetcar service to Queens Quay on June 22 was incorrect. Streetcar service will not operate south of King until the August 31, 2014 reopening of the entire route.

Bay to York

July 29, 2014

West of the Bay Street portal, traffic is now using the streetcar right-of-way as far west as Rees Street.

July 8, 2014

Track between the portal and York is now complete. The 509 bus is now operating mostly along the north side of the street and crosses the tracks to the south side just east of York. South of the tracks, the roadway is starting to take shape.

June 2, 2014

Work at the York Street intersection is in progress.

May 30, 2014

Track has been installed here in sections between the portal and York Street except for the section of roadway where traffic make its diversion from the north to the south side of Queens Quay. As soon as work is finished at Lower Simcoe, that intersection will reopen, and the York intersection will close to allow track construction and other work (planned for June 2).

May 18, 2014

A short section of track has been installed in this area, and additional excavation is in progress.

May 9, 2014

A small amount of excavation work has been done for the new streetcar roadbed east of York Street, but other works are still in progress here.

May 5, 2014

Work has not started on the surface portion of this section because work still in progress prevents relocation of road traffic to the south side of Queens Quay westward from Bay Street. Road traffic now crosses the future streetcar lanes just east of York.

York to Lower Simcoe

July 8, 2014

Track construction is complete from York to Lower Simcoe, and construction of the new roadway north of the tracks is now underway. TTC overhead poles now line the south side of the tracks from York Street westward to Robertson Crescent (east of Rees).

May 30, 2014

The intersection at Lower Simcoe is still closed, but final paving work is now in progress and plans are for the street to reopen by June 2 in advance of the start of work at York Street.

May 16, 2014

Track is now in place across Lower Simcoe and proceeding to meet up with the track already in place west of York Street. The intersection is scheduled to reopen to traffic on May 23.

May 9, 2014

Track extends east to York Street, and excavation to continue from the section shown below west to and across Lower Simcoe is now in progress. The intersection at Lower Simcoe is closed until the new track is in place.

May 5, 2014

Work on this section has begun, but is only half complete because of conflicting utility work near Lower Simcoe.

The intersection at Lower Simcoe will be closed from May 7 to 22 for track installation.

Lower Simcoe to Rees

July 29, 2014

Construction of the new roadway is progressing west from York to Rees, and Waterfront Toronto expects this to be paved within the next two weeks.

July 8, 2014

Track is completed in this section, and overhead poles have been installed along the south side of the right-of-way to just east of Rees at Robertson Cr. Road construction north of the tracks is now underway west of Lower Simcoe.

June 6, 2014

The section just east of Rees between the two arms of Robertson Crescent (which encircles the Radisson Hotel) was late to start because of utility work here. Track construction is now underway here.

May 30, 2014

Foundation work is in progress for the section west from Robertson Crescent to Rees (in front of the Radisson Hotel). Plans are for the Rees intersection to close mid-week (about June 4, subject to other streets nearby reopening) and for the track construction to proceed across Rees.

April 7, 2014

Track construction has begun on Queens Quay between Lower Simcoe and Robertson Crescent (the east side of the Radisson Hotel at Rees Street).

Rees Street to Peter Slip Bridge

July 8, 2014

Most track construction is complete in this section except at the “Beer Store” intersection where track has been placed but not yet welded together or set in concrete.

Work continues on the bridge to complete the expansion joints.

June 6, 2014

Work on the eastern section of track between Rees and the bridge is now underway.

May 30, 2014

Work continues to progress on track west toward the bridge.

May 16, 2014

A short section of excavation for the track foundation west of Ress has begun, but as-yet unfinished utility work in the area will prevent more substantial work on the track for some time.

May 9, 2014

The section west from Rees to the Peter Slip bridge awaits completion of utility work in the area.

Track on Peter Slip Bridge was installed in June 2013.

Peter Slip Bridge to Spadina Avenue

August 19, 2014

Testing begins on the new line.

July 29, 2014

Overhead construction at Spadina & Queens Quay continues.

July 8, 2014

Track construction in this area is complete, and poles for the new overhead system were recently installed around the intersection. Overhead construction has begun at the entrance to Queens Quay Loop.

June 6, 2014

Work on the loop entrance continues together with track heading east to the bridge.

June 1, 2014

Installation of the track at the loop entrance continues.

May 30, 2014

Work is now in progress on the loop entrance from Queens Quay east of Spadina.

May 16, 2014

The intersection assembly is complete and concrete is being poured around the new track.

May 9, 2014

Installation of the special work for the Spadina & Queens Quay junction is now in progress.

May 5, 2014

Utility work continues on the north side of Queens Quay just east of the streetcar loop where Toronto Hydro is installing a new splicing chamber.

At Spadina, excavation is nearly complete for the installation of the special work in “Section D” of the loop, the intersection itself.

The special work panels for the intersection have already been delivered, and they will be installed once the foundation slab is in place.

Section “C” of the loop (the entrance from Queens Quay) is planned to begin on May 13.

Spadina Avenue to Yo-Yo Ma Lane

August 18, 2014

New track is in place west from Spadina to Yo-Yo Ma lane.

July 17, 2014

Construction is now underway west from Spadina with the excavation for the trackbed largely completed. In the first photo below, the overhead crew is working on the Spadina/Queens Quay intersection in the background.

July 8, 2014

After a considerable delay for utility work west of Spadina, work now begins on the last section of the track installation with excavation and grading for the new right-of-way. This will be the transition area to the original layout of Queens Quay west to Bathurst Street.

West of Yo-Yo Ma Lane, eastbound traffic will remain south of the streetcar right-of-way, but will shift over to the north side at a signalled crossing west of Spadina. The shift provides room south of the tracks for the Martin Goodman cycling trail and widened sidewalks through the central Queens Quay area.

May 5, 2014

Utility work is still in progress here although it has been suspended during the intersection installation at Spadina.

67 thoughts on “Queens Quay Reconstruction 2014 (Updated August 21, 2014)

  1. The construction of TTC track on Queens Quay between Spadina Avenue and Yo Yo Ma Lane is under way, to connect with existing streetcar tracks between Yo Yo Ma Lane and the intersection of Bathurst and Fleet Streets. First comes the removal of asphalt and the preparation of rail bed in the middle lanes of the road. The next step is laying down the rails, then pouring the concrete between them. The TTC will continue to run shuttle buses on the “509 Harbourfront” route until this work and the rest of Queens Quay West. Streetcars are scheduled to return to this route on October 12th, during Thanksgiving weekend.

    Steve: Yup, that’s the status, already reported here.


  2. Not to belabour and bemoan the point too much (last time, I promise), but there are 37 TTC poles in total in and around the Spadina loop. 37! I sure hope there wasn’t a less visually appalling way to set up the loop, that they cheaper out on for cost.

    The previous loop didn’t have so many poles, did it?

    Steve: No it did not. I am baffled by the complexity of the installation myself considering how few poles are needed for grand unions like King & Spadina. That said, the “loop” is really three intersections, although two are fairly simple.


  3. Steve:

    No it did not. I am baffled by the complexity of the installation myself considering how few poles are needed for grand unions like King & Spadina. That said, the “loop” is really three intersections, although two are fairly simple.

    I think that the overhead crew saw that art at Weston and Eglinton with all the street lights on the corner and decided to have one of their own at Queens Quay Loop. Now if they could only get one example of every type of pole ever used for overhead. My favourite was at Lansdowne and Bloor, NE corner if I remember correctly. Perhaps they could also use a different manhole cover for each installation in the area.

    I won’t go into making Union Station a urinal museum.


  4. I am planning to ride a new light rail vehicle on August 31st, if this deadline doesn’t slip. Am I likely to run into any of the rest of you?

    Steve, from the comments above am I correct that the new Union Station loop(s) are supposed to be finished by August 31? You wrote about the need to modify Spadina, so it could hold two of the longer vehicles. Is that loop also scheduled to be finished?

    I wonder how much more it would have cost to extend the line up Bay so the streetcar platforms terminated a level below the subway platform? Maybe the pilings the subways rest on would have been in the way?

    Steve: Union Loop is not needed until October when service to Queens Quay resumes. Spadina Loop is needed at the end of August, and so that one must be finished (ideally it should be done early for testing). As for extending the Harbourfront route up Bay, you have your geometry all wrong. The streetcar loop is at the same level as the subway track — there will be a direct transfer from the new northbound-to-Yonge platform into the existing loop. Going under the subway is not only extremely expensive (and you still need a loop for the single-ended cars) but physically impossible.


  5. Some fun to be had with Google Maps – streetview is out of synch. When travelling along QQ between Jarvis and Spadina, you’ll see images dating from April 2009-June 2013, depending on your location and direction of travel. Satellite view/Google Earth seem to have landed after completion of the wave decks and prior to major reconstruction.

    Fortunately for anyone actually hoping to use Google to find directions, it has correctly identified the MGT as merely “planned” and that QQ itself is one-way westbound.

    The juxtaposition of images and information really makes you realize just how huge a project this has been.


  6. Just passed by the west end of construction and in two places they have severed the westbound track (still attached to the ties) and placed it on top of the eastbound track. One of those sections was the westernmost piece, and I think the other was the easternmost piece. Not sure what they were doing as it was nighttime and didn’t get a good look. I hope they haven’t encountered another issue in that area that will cause further delay.


  7. Any photos of the mysterious poles mentioned earlier in the comments thread?

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: This requires some work and explanation. Some poles hold span wires while others are the end-points for pull-offs where the wire for a curve “ends” at a frog, but continues for structural reasons to a pole diagonally in line with the approach to the frog. Now that the intersection isn’t always full of overhead trucks, I can go back there to photograph the details.


  8. I don’t think the new streetcars have ever been tested on Union Loop trackage. There’s no way they could have, but correct me if I’m wrong. But hope all goes well when it reopens.


  9. I was on QQ today and it seems that virtually all the TTC poles are up between Spadina and Bay and they have started working on the ‘hangers” at the Spadina end. I was pleased to see that, after the ‘pole forest’ at Spadina Loop, the overhead will be suspended from single poles, on the Martin Goodman Trail side of the ROW.


  10. It won’t be long before streetcars return to the “509 Harbourfront” route (Thanksgiving weekend). By that time, these shuttle buses, which served the route for 26 months will be gone. However, there’s more work to be done over the next year. The north side of Queens Quay between Bay Street and Spadina Avenue (or is it Yo Yo Ma Lane). The TTC tracks are almost ready for streetcars, which make their return during Labour Day long weekend (“510 Spadina” route). The north side of Queens Quay will become roadway for motor vehicles, and is being asphalted. On both sides of Queens Quay, the remains of the concrete sidewalks will be broken up with machinery, and gradually be replaced with a walkway made with little red granite tiles replacing the remaining concrete sidewalks.

    Steve: Actually, much of the sidewalk on both sides of Queens Quay has already been replaced with the granite pavers. Work is now underway on building the new Martin Goodman Trail along the south side as well as the infrastructure for the rows of trees that will be planted next year.


  11. I’ve been riding the 509 bus fairly frequently now that the 510 is running down to Queen’s Quay – as a quick update, the track west from Spadina to Yo Yo Ma appears to be complete and the concrete has been poured and cured. Track is now continuous from the Bay/York Portal to the CNE loop – they’ve connected the old and new segments at Yo Yo Ma.

    Steve, I heard a report one of these days that 509/510 service along Queen’s Quay from Union to Spadina will reopen on October 12th, but that for some reason the segment from Spadina to Bathurst will not open until November. That doesn’t sound right given that the track is complete … have you heard anything about this, or should it all open on the 12th?

    Steve: According to the schedule change notice for October, the 509 route returns all the way from Union to the CNE.


  12. The TTC track work on Queens Quay West is nearly ready for streetcars when they return Thanksgiving weekend. Most of the poles are up – there’s a few more to go – on the sides of the stretch of track between the foot of Spadina Avenue westward to Yo Yo Ma Lane. The next step is the installation of overhead wires which supply the electricity for operating the streetcars when they return. In the mean time, people travelling to the central waterfront will continue to be riding the shuttle buses on the “509 Harbourfront” route.

    To the north of the new streetcar tracks, asphalting of the road continues. To the south side of the tracks, a new trail for bicycle riding and inline skating is being built.


  13. For anyone interested and still reading comments this far back who hasn’t made their way down in the past few days, I was walking along Queen’s Quay today and I have some updates to share:

    The road (westbound only, still) has been paved completely from Bay to Lower Spadina. Traffic is now entirely on-road, and public vehicles are no longer driving on the TTC ROW. On the west side of the Lower Spadina/Queen’s Quay intersection, for a few short metres traffic shifts back onto the ROW before sharply going back to the proper road–presumably this short final section will be completed in the next few days.

    Platforms and Shelters are almost complete. The only one remaining to be built is Westbound at Lower Spadina farside for the 509 (on Queen’s Quay, past where the 510 turns north onto Spadina) – pending traffic being shifted back off the ROW there. The completed ones are: westbound – York farside, Rees farside, Lower Spadina northbound 510 farside (on Spadina); eastbound – Lower Spadina farside, Rees nearside, Simcoe-York (this one is roughly halfway between the two intersections, maybe a little bit closer to York – I guess there’ll be a stop sign along the Martin Goodman Trail and a lot of prayers that cyclists will stop for disembarked passengers trying to get across to the south side sidewalk?). Noticeably missing (not incomplete, as far as I can tell, but simply not present) are stops either direction at Simcoe or an eastbound stop on the east side of york – I guess they played around with the York-Simcoe stop spacing.

    Overhead: I actually quite like these cantilevered poles! Poles are in place all the way from the portal to the merge at Yo Yo Ma. The overhead lines themselves are about 50% complete: the westbound overhead wire was strung coming up out of the Bay portal (as deep as I could see into it), all the way continuously to Lower Spadina, temporarily interrupted west of Spadina to west of Yo Yo Ma. Eastbound begins at Lower Spadina, naturally, due to the 510Q having been in service for nearly a month, and now extends past the Eastbound-to-Northbound turn into the loop onto the Peter Slip bridge where it ends (a bit farther east than where it was strung recently). To my untrained eye it looks like the Eastbound wiring from the Peter Slip bridge to the portal will be completed soon as well based on some wire hangers/connectors coiled up on the poles.

    Union loop: for any of you who have seen the glass doors on the new (Northbound to Finch) platform, they have taken off the construction paper and you can now see into the waiting area/platform/loop, which looks fairly neat and tidy (previous tiny glimpses included lots of scattered equipment and dust). I’m not sure if they will reinstate a stairwell from the concourse level directly to the 509/510 platform or if the only access will be by walking through the Finch platform. Certainly the transfer for those getting on/off that train looks brilliantly easy.

    The latest states that the TTC will begin testing streetcars along Queen’s Quay starting the week of October 6! Terrifically exciting – hopefully we’ll get some nice pictures of the LFLRV running down there that week. They did specifically mention they’re only going to be running the test cars between Union and Lower Spadina loop at that time – omitting the new stretch from Spadina-Yo Yo Ma and the connection to the existing track going through to Bathurst/Fleet. Not sure about whether that’s the TTC’s omission from testing or just WFT’s omission from the notice, or the reason for it. Odd…

    I’m curious to hear whether on October 12th Queen’s Quay will also reopen to eastbound traffic or remain westbound-only with the extra lane for a longer period.

    Steve: I was there on Friday, and even in one day there has been a lot of progress, and although the pavement was completed west of Rees, the traffic was still on the streetcar tracks. The right-of-way was so cluttered with vans and material from every contractor that I gave up taking any reasonable photos of “partly completed” work. I will return early next week and will start a new thread leading to the opening of the line.

    The construction status updates you linked are an excellent source of info on the week-by-week progress. Sometimes they get a little ahead of themselves because of unexpected problems or weather delays, but the info is all in one place.

    I believe that the bi-directional traffic will not return to Queens Quay until a later stage in the project.

    The York and Simcoe stops have been consolidated between the two intersections. Details are in the approved design. Note that things have changed somewhat since this was approved in 2009.

    I am trying to track down a detailed map of what is actually being built, but Waterfront Toronto’s site is strangely silent on this.


  14. Today, I was walking along Queens Quay West near Lower Simcoe, and I noticed more progress, as I headed to the docks to take the ferry over to Centre Island.

    There are new cantilevered streetcar poles running westward from the portal near the foot of Bay Street (close to the Island ferry docks) all the way to Lower Spadina Avenue. There’s more of these (cantilevered) poles to come, running further westward to Yo Yo Ma Lane, where T-bar poles take over. They’ve been hooked up with new overhead electrical wires. It won’t be long until streetcars return to the “509 Harbourfront” route, which has been served by shuttle buses for the past two years – since July 29, 2012, before construction began.


  15. Visitors to Harbourfront, Island Ferry Docks, welcome return of streetcars to Queens Quay West:

    Throughought 2012, the TTC was gradually taking streetcars off of Queens Quay West, which then was in rough shape. Beginning in early June, streetcars on the main branch of the 510 Spadina route to Union Station were gone (only the two other branches of the route operated – “510 Spadina” to Queens Quay & Spadina and an even shorter branch only going as far south as King Street) were removed. In fact, streetcars on the entire “510 Spadina” route were replaced with buses after Victoria Day weekend until November 17, 2012 – the reason being track work. However, streetcars on the “509 Harbourfront ” route would stick around on Queens Quay West longer, until they were eventually replaced with a curbside bus service on July 29th, 2012. This would leave people travelling by TTC to Harbourfront Centre and/or the Island Ferry Docks scrambling to fand alternate routes. Many diehard streetcar stavellers switched to the “511 Bathurst” streetcar combined with the “509 Harbourfront” streetcar (a few weeks later a shuttle bus on this route).

    With the return of streetcars to the “509 Harbourfront” and the main branch of the “510 Spadina” route (to Union Station), stopping at Queens Quay and Lower Simcoe. Me and many people travelling to Harbourfront Centre would save time getting there, making fewer transfers, as the “510 Spadina” streetcar to Union Station (via Queens Quay West) would be stopping at Lower Simcoe.


  16. Yesterday, I travelled to Harbourfront Centre – I took the “510 Spadina” streetcar to Union Station, getting off at Queens Quay West and Lower Simcoe Street. There are some new pedestrian crossings with traffic lights, and new transit shelters. Streetcars made a welcome return to Queens Quay West, on newly rebuilt tracks. There’s no longer a need for people heading to Harbourfront and/or Island Ferry Docks to make transfers from one streetcar to another (or from a streetcar to a shuttle bus). Gone are the shuttle buses which have been running on the “509 Harbourfront” route for more than two years (July 29, 2012 – October 11, 2014).

    Many of those buses (which have been used on “509 Harbourfront”) have been redeployed to the “511 Bathurst” route, which there’s TTC track repair work which will begin soon between College Street and Queen Street West, beginning October 20; the TTC took streetcars off that route yesterday and replaced them with a curbside bus service; there will be route diversions. During the years of Queens Quay track construction (even befor this – as early as June 2012), I’ve continued to travel to Harbourfront Centre – which remained open for business. I was using a combination the “511 Bathurst” (streetcar) and “509 Harbourfront” (first streetcar and later shuttle bus) routes. Throughout this period, I ‘watched’ the demolition of the old streetcar tracks, the asphalting over of Queens Quay West, the installation of new utility and sewage pipes, and later the building of the new tracks.

    There’s still a lot of work to be done on Queens Quay West – to the south side of the streetcar tracks. What remains of the old concrete sidewalks are being broken up by machinery, and tiny little red blocks replacing this. Also, planters for trees.


  17. Now that the construction on the Queens Quay West tracks has been completed (along with transit shelters) and streetcars have been running on them since Sunday of the Thanksgiving weekend, what construction is yet to be done? Most of it is on the south side of Queens Quay West, between the foot of Bay Street (near Island Ferry Docks) westward to Yo Yo Ma Lane. There’s the planters for new trees and a new recreation and pedestrian trail.

    By next summer (when Toronto hosts the Pan/Parapan American Games), the construction on the waterfront will finally be completed, with new trees planted and a new recreation and pedestrian promenade. Also next year, the Word on the Street festival, which happens on a Sunday during the month of September, moves from its current venue (Queens Park) down to a new one – Harbourfront Centre. This will be one more festival taking place on the waterfront.

    Steve: What remains is the completion of the Martin Goodman Trail and the pedestrian area, plus some utility work still in progress at Rees/Robertson. Once everything is finished on the construction side of things, the new road must be reconfigured for two-way operation. This is a matter of paint, signalling and signage, and probably won’t happen until sometime in 2015.


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