Metrolinx Announces Design Changes and Public Meetings on Eglinton LRT (Update 8)

Updated June 17, 2013 at 6:15 pm:

In the comment thread for this article, there has been substantial discussion about a “south side option” for the Eglinton LRT between the portal at Brentcliffe and Don Mills Road.  I have after several requests obtained an answer from Metrolinx about whether this had ever been considered.  Here is their reply sent by Jamie Robinson today.

Placing the LRT on the south side of Eglinton Avenue East in the vicinity of the West Don River/Leslie Street was included in three of five options compared to the at-that-time base case (which was underground throughout the corridor) in the Don Mills River Crossing Study prepared in February 2012 by HMM. However, the LRT would have been in a completely separate right-of-way on a new bridge across the West Don River in order to maintain current vehicle capacity of Eglinton Avenue East (i.e., no conversion of travel lanes to LRT tracks).

That report recommended one of the options that included a continuation of the bored tunnel from the west to pass under the West Don River and portal east of the Don Valley Parkway. That option was selected because the cost differential with the at-grade options was minimal, provided that a station at Leslie Street was not required. If a Leslie Station would be required, then one of the at-grade south side options was the preferred option. MX decided to proceed with the first option, and further refined that option with a launch at Don Mills Road and continuing eastward with the EA alignment, which led to the preparation of the Eastern EPR Addendum.

The at-grade south side option was not compared to the EA Option.

Generally, however, It is very difficult (if not impossible) to relocate the portal from the centre of Eglinton (as proposed in the current design) and shift it to the south side of the right-of-way and continue to use the existing bridge. The “viaduct” option that HMM reviewed, was suggested by the public and was presented during the recent consultations for the changes in the East, was more expensive and required an EA amendment. Due to project implementation timelines the project is proceeding with the EA option.

In brief, yes they looked at it, although not in the context of the original EA.  Shifting to the south presents problems for the river crossing and the tunnel launch shaft, but might have survived as an option if Metrolinx had not decided to go all-underground to Don Mills.  Now that they’re back on the surface, they are sticking with the original plan.

Updated May 17, 2013 at 7:15 pm:

Recent events have raised questions about which versions of two major stations, Yonge and Kennedy, on the Eglinton LRT were actually to be built by Metrolinx.

In the case of Yonge Station, there are two quite different versions:

In the EA document (see plate 57A-E, pages 17-21 in the PDF), link from the LRT to the subway is handled via a mezzanine level between the two lines making the transition from east-west orientation (LRT) to north-south (subway).  The primary route between the two lines reaches the subway level via new escalators and stairs into the north end of the subway platform.  A secondary route rises all the way to the existing mezzanine level from the west end of the LRT platform and connects with both the paid and unpaid areas of the north entrance (under the BMO branch).

In the Metrolinx Central Station Reference Concept (see pages 47-52), the direct connection to the subway platform has been eliminated, and all traffic is funnelled to the upper mezzanine where it would connect to the paid area of the subway through area under the old bus terminal (now closed off).  This would eventually be incorporated in redevelopment of the terminal lands.

In the case of Kennedy Station, one of the proposed layouts, quite different from what we have seen before, was shown by Councillor Bernardinetti at last week’s Council Meeting.  It was unclear whether this was the version under active consideration by Metrolinx.

I wrote to Metrolinx for clarification, and here is their response (provided by Jamie Robinson via email).

Re Yonge/Eglinton:

The current Reference Design for the station includes a main entrance to the west (in the abandoned bus terminal property), which is meant to be an interim pavilion that will be incorporated in the future development of the site by Build Toronto.

The Reference Design is indicative of one design where requirements are reflected. The AFP process allows the Proponents, and later the Project Contractor to come up with a design solution that satisfies the requirements of the PSOS (Project Specific Output Specifications).

At Yonge/Eglinton the more recent design will be used.  It is simpler to build and brings passengers through the “traditional” transfer route into the central part of the subway mezzanine just as they once came from the bus terminal.

For Kennedy:

Metrolinx has undertaken an intensive design exercise to review options for integrating a converted Scarborough RT and a new Eglinton Crosstown LRT into the existing Kennedy Station, as well as addressing other mobility hub considerations in this location. Based on this exercise, we have concluded that the basic station design indicated in the 2010 Environmental Project Report is the most functional and appropriate approach from a transit operations perspective. We have directed our design team to proceed with further design of this approved alternative.

This design was presented at an April 2010 public meeting.  It includes a double-deck LRT station north of the existing structure under the existing bus platforms.

The SRT trains would use the upper level which is designed as a large loop at the existing mezzanine level of the station.  The Eglinton trains would use the lower level which is designed as a conventional centre platform terminal station with a crossover.

Transfers between routes would be:

  • SRT to Subway: walk from the SRT platform across the mezzanine to the existing stairs and escalators, then down one level.
  • SRT to Eglinton LRT: via stairs and escalators between the upper and lower level of the LRT section of the station.
  • Eglinton LRT to Subway: up from the Eglinton LRT level to the SRT level, across the mezzanine, and down to the subway.

In the Metrolinx reply, I was curious about the implication that bidders might change the designs that were already approved.  Metrolinx further replied:

With the decision to procure the project using an Alternative Financing and Procurement or AFP model, each proponent will be developing designs for the stations.  Therefore a reference concept design (RCD) is being developed for each of these stations.

The RCD is intended to identify the location of entrances, exits and ancillary station (ventilation) equipment to allow property acquisition and (if required) major utility relocation to commence.

The Request For Qualifications (RFQ) for the project was issued by Infrastructure Ontario in January.  Once a preferred proponent is selected, the proponent will be required t submit designs to Metrolinx and the City for approval.  The designs will be reviewed by Metrolinx.  The proponent will also be required to participate in the City’s Site Plan Review process which could potentially include the City’s Design Review Panel.  There will also be a requirement for the preferred proponent to incorporate consultation with the public as a condition for design approval.

Updated May 10, 2013 at 5:10 pm:

Metrolinx issued the following statement regarding the Eglinton project via email:

Metrolinx has decided to proceed with the approved 2010 Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT Environmental Assessment (EA) and launch tunneling just east of Brentcliffe Road.

Metrolinx had identified some potential issues with the Brentcliffe Road launch site. It investigated different options and engaged the community, including convening three public meeting. We believed that our proposals would result in significant improvements to construction staging, schedule and traffic impacts. However, in discussions with the local community and with local community organizations it was clear that there was a strong preference for a stop at Leslie Street and for a station at Laird, not moved to Brentcliffe Road. We have listened. Metrolinx will proceed to tender the contract for the construction of the tunnels from Brentcliffe Road to Yonge Street. This signals another important step in the largest light rail transit expansion in the City of Toronto’s history. When the tunnel contract is awarded later this year, construction of the east launch shaft can begin.

Metrolinx will work to minimize disruption to the community during construction. Traffic lanes will be reduced along Eglinton for many months. But, as much information as possible will be shared ahead of time so people can choose alternate routes. We will also develop a traffic management strategy with the City of Toronto. Finally, Metrolinx community relations staff are available to provide information and answer questions.

[Email from Jamie Robinson at Metrolinx]

I spoke with Robinson to clarify various issues, and here in brief are his responses to my questions.  (The notes below are my paraphrase of his comments.)

  • There is a need to get on with the tendering of work on the Crosstown so that construction can begin.
  • Any changes to the approved design will require approval by Toronto Council which, under the current circumstances, could be difficult to achieve on a timely basis.
  • The cost for an underground alignment between Brentcliffe and Don Mills would be approximately the same as the surface alignment to which the project has returned.  The extra cost of tunnelling is offset by the cost of removing contaminated soils east of Brentcliffe and the shoring needed for the launch shaft adjacent to existing development.
  • Traffic disruption in the area will last 2.5-3 years (this launch site will be the extraction point for all tunnelling west to Yonge Street).
  • Plans to reinstate the Ferrand Drive stop east of Don Mills are not affected by this decision as this stop was in the originally approved project.

I asked about the design of Kennedy Station given that a version of this site was shown at the recent Council meeting by Councillor Berardinetti.  Robinson confirmed that this design has not yet been settled, and it is unclear whether Metrolinx will simply return to the original design, again to avoid an EA amendment.  He will provide an update on this situation next week.

Updated May 10, 2013 at 4:15 pm:

TTC Chair Karen Stintz has tweeted that Metrolinx has decided to return to the original plan for Eglinton between Laird and Don Mills with surface running east of Brentcliffe.  Detailed reasons for this change of heart have not yet been issued by Metrolinx, notably an explanation of why the tunnel to Don Mills, presented as an essential engineering requirement at recent meetings, has been dropped.

I have sent a request to Metrolinx for an official statement on this matter including a technical explanation for the change.

Updated April 24, 2013 at 10:00 pm:

Metrolinx proposes to change the section of the Eglinton route to underground construction between Brentcliffe and Don Mills.  On April 23, they held a public meeting to discuss this proposal.  The presentation deck is available online.  There is a detailed map on page 5 of the presentation.  The PDF version is at high resolution and can be zoomed to read the notes and design details.

At a previous public meeting where an early version of this scheme was proposed, Metrolinx heard concerns about:

  • The loss of the stop at Ferrand Drive east of Don Mills,
  • The loss of the stop at Leslie Street and, with it, easy access to parkland,
  • Bus activity at the proposed Laird Station, and
  • Alternative alignments the route might take.

The need for all this was triggered by Metrolinx’ decision to shift the access site for tunnel boring from a portal on the hill between Brentcliffe and the west branch of the Don River to the southeast corner of Don Mills and Eglinton.  Their claim is that the soil at the Don River is contaminated, that construction is now complicated by condos that have been built nearby, and that about $20m in construction cost can be avoided by shifting the launch site elsewhere.

To those who have followed the Eglinton line’s history, it is no surprise that Metrolinx would propose to underground the line to Don Mills, and they were pushing the merits of fewer stops and faster “regional” travel back in the days Transit City was struggling for their attention.  Metrolinx simply does not understand that this line is not “regional” but local especially as it will go nowhere near the 416 boundary in current plans.

In any event, Metrolinx tries to make a case for the new scheme with arguments that simply don’t hold up, and the sense of “say anything to keep them happy” pervades the presentation.

Station Spacing

Metrolinx proposes to shift the Laird Station to Brentcliffe about 400m to the east.  The reason for this is to “improve park access” (via long walkways from Brentcliffe down to the park itself) and to “even out” the spacing of stations between Bayview and Don Mills.

The park access is nowhere near as convenient as a station at Leslie would be, especially for anyone who is neither a cyclist nor an avid walker, because Brentcliffe Station is located at the top of the west bank of the Don Valley.

As for “even spacing”, this is hogwash given that stations are to serve people, and a Brentcliffe station is further away from the main concentration of would-be riders who live west of Laird.  Indeed, an early plan of the Eglinton line placed the station at Brentcliffe and it was shifted west precisely because that’s where the riders would be.  Spacing has nothing to do with the issue as almost all of the land east of Brentcliffe is green space.

At the meeting, there was good support for going back to the original plan with surface operations east of Brentcliffe, but the moderator and Metrolinx folks seemed to be encouraging acceptance of the new plan as “second best”.  That was not the sense of the meeting, but it will likely be reported that way.

The Access Shaft

It is quite astounding that someone didn’t figure out there was a soils problem, let alone one with adjacent development, a long time ago for the originally proposed launch site east of Brentcliffe.  I cannot help thinking Metrolinx is taking advantage of what might have been a difficult situation to make the case for a design change they always wanted, but could not justify.

At the meeting, it was claimed that this change is cost neutral.  That is very hard to believe if the delta for the original launch site is only $20m over original estimates.  That will hardly cover the cost of tunelling all the way to Don Mills Station.  Yes, there are savings in avoiding modifications to the Eglinton Avenue bridge over the Don, but it is not credible that this would pay for the extended tunnel.

An alternative launch site at Bayview & Eglinton, using the playing grounds beside Leaside High School, was rejected because of the length of time — five years — that work would occupy the site and the neighbourhood disruption this would cause.  That’s a real stretch considering that tunnelling for the entire line is supposed to be completed in less time than that.  The slide concerning the Bayview access option is not in the online slide deck although it was included in the meeting materials.

Brentcliffe and Laird Stations

Because the proposed tunnel now dives under the river rather than emerging east of Brentcliffe, the tunnel where this station would be located is much deeper than in original plans.  Although Metrolinx claims its stations will be accessible, it is unclear exactly what this means, specifically whether there will be bi-directional escalator service from street to platform plus an elevator.  Moreover, secondary entrance(s) will not have any accessibility features.  For deep stations, this means a lot of stair climbing.  (See presentation page 6.)

A strange exchange came up during the Q&A when someone asked about siting a station between the two streets.  The first and obvious answer is that with a station being only 130m long, and the space between the streets measuring 400m, this change wouldn’t really please advocates of either location.  A midblock station would be further from the park, but still well east of Laird.

In any event, Metrolinx rambled on about how with the private sector being involved in construction, there was another round of design reviews in which the station designs would be finalized, and the site could be adjusted then.  This is complete nonsense because (a) the station location affects tunnel grades and a new location would require an EA amendment, and (b) the private bidders are supposed to “inherit” an already-built tunnel structure around which they will place the stations.  Obviously, Metrolinx has to decide on the station locations as part of tunnel design.

This exchange had all the earmarks of someone making up an excuse to avoid debate on the fly.

Surface Bus Routes

One claimed reason for the shift away from Laird involves surface bus service.  Metrolinx claims that the TTC will integrate the 56 Leaside and 51 Leslie, and this will mean the combined route will make west-to-south and north-to-east turns at Laird or at Brentcliffe depending on which site is chosen.  Apparently, there was concern that this operation will completely foul up traffic at the Laird location, even though the claimed frequency of service was every 10 minutes at peak.  The real issue, regardless of location, for some people was that this connection will be open air, and people waiting for a northbound Leslie bus will do so at a regular bus stop on the east side of Laird or Brentcliffe as the case may be.

(If the station is at Brentcliffe with the primary entrance on the southwest corner, there is no reason the TTC could not run southbound service via Brentcliffe, and northbound service via Laird and Eglinton so that both transfer stops could be served by the same weather-protected waiting area in the station entrance.)

The whole issue of TTC service was a bit of a conundrum for Metrolinx who claimed that any surface routes, including a supplementary bus on Eglinton, were up to the TTC (who were not at the meeting).  Sorry, but that excuse won’t wash.  Earth to Metrolinx: you are building a transit corridor, and you are responsible for co-ordinating all of the service that will operate there, not just for your pretty green trains.  The Metrolinx folks also didn’t seem to know that their recent proposed amendment for the Mt. Dennis portion of the line includes a table of proposed TTC services including “34 Eglinton” which would no doubt serve the eastern part as well.

The Leslie Stop

Without question, if the line is underground (and at this point under the Don River), a station at Leslie cannot be justified given the very low density at this site even allowing for future development north of Eglinton (e.g. the Sony property).  On a surface LRT line, a stop at Leslie would be simple to include, but Metrolinx’ decision to go underground with a south-of-Eglinton alignment scotches that possibility.

The matter of a future GO Transit connection to the CPR tracks came up during the Q&A.  Again, the Metrolinx team showed its ignorance when they claimed that there were not plans to implement service on this line beyond a Federal study (one that will probably die once influential MPs along the route retire or are defeated, notably the Finance Minister and the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Assistant).  However, service on this corridor was originally in the 15-year Big Move plan, and it has been pushed back to the 25-year plan in recent revisions.  For Metrolinx to claim that no service is planned here is either a flat out lie, or simply a case of incompetence — not knowing what’s in your own plan.

In any event, as and when the CPR does get GO service, a technically preferable station site would be at the Don Mills crossing north of Eglinton and a potential station on, dare I say it, a Don Mills subway (aka the DRL).

All in all, Metrolinx appeared to be making up excuses about the Leslie stop out of thin air without fully understanding the options in this area.

Don Mills and Ferrand Drive

In the original scheme, Don Mills Station and its approaches from both east and west would have been built cut-and-cover.  However, with the change to bored tunnel, the entire structure must remain far enough underground to give headroom for the boring machines.  this shifts the depth of the station, and presented problems with the space needed for turnback tracks at the station and a ramp back to the surface.  For this reason, the Ferrand Drive stop was eliminated in the design shown a few months ago.

Now, Don Mills Station has been revised so that the portal out onto Eglinton is far enough west that the originally proposed Ferrand Drive stop can be included.  This was another nibble Metrolinx planned to take out of the surface operation, but the bite may have proven indigestible.  This change will keep the advocates of a Ferrand stop happy.

Meanwhile, at Don Mills, potential integration with a new subway line (the “Downtown Relief Line” or the “Don Mills Subway” as I prefer to call it) is not mentioned.  The plans show no provision for a north-south station connecting with the Eglinton line’s east-west box structure.

The DRL itself is the subject of confusion at Metrolinx where the length and cost cited on the Big Move’s Next Wave page do not match with the diagrammatic map.  Terminating the line at Danforth is not a viable design, but the TTC/Metrolinx seem to be dragging their feet on pushing north to Eglinton despite the benefits of such a scheme.  Clarity on the DRL’s design would help considerably in placing discussions re the Eglinton route in context.

Conclusion

Metrolinx is missing a great deal of detail, but if past experience is anything to go by, their mind is already made up, and the option presented to the public meeting will be the one on which the EA amendment will be based.  There are serious questions about assumptions in this version, but getting them asked, let alone answered, will be quite another matter.

Metrolinx really does need to try again and get its story straight on many of the issues raised at the public meeting.

Updated April 18, 2013 at 11:00 am:

The Environmental Project Report addendum covering the section of the line west of Black Creek is online as part of a report to the Toronto Executive Committee for April 23, 2013.  This includes the redesign of the section from the tunnel portal east of Black Creek Drive through Mount Dennis Station to Jane Street, although only the section as far as Weston Road would be built in Phase 1 of the project.  Attachments to the report include:

The revised alignment is shown in Figure 2-5b at the start of Part II.  This includes cross-sectional views of the portion in Phase 2 which would be built cut and cover from the west limit of Weston Road to a portal in the hill down to the Jane Street flats.  Detailed views appear in Figures 3-7a to 3-7d at the end of Part II, and 3-7e to 3-7g at the start of Part III.

Although the portion west of Weston Road will not be built in Phase 1, it has been revised so that demolition of the houses on the north side of Eglinton is no longer required.  (A list showing the original and revised property requirements is in Table 5-2 in Part IV.)

The Mount Dennis Station itself straddles the rail corridor in a layout that is described under “Option 11″ in the report.  The existence of options 1 through 10 documents the long process of working through alternative schemes for this section of the route, and ironically ends up with a variant that in the early days of the line’s design was called “too expensive”.

(The overview map of Option 11 in Figure 2-4 of Part I erroneously shows the alignment as underground to west of Jane Street when, in fact, it emerges from a portal east of Jane and runs on the surface west from there.)

The alignment east of Mount Dennis Station has been designed to remain completely grade separated and protected including the junction leading to the maintenance yard.  Metrolinx intends to use automatic train control on the underground section of Eglinton, and the yard access will be part of the ATC territory.  (A detailed view of the yard layout is in Figure 3-7e.)

As the line emerges from the portal at Black Creek and crosses on a bridge to the Kodak lands, an access track to the yard splits off from the westbound track.  A single crossover east of this split would allow an eastbound train to reverse into the yard.

Two exit tracks from the yard turn south and west with one of them joining the westbound track and one running just north of it.  At this point, the layout is three tracks wide.  A double crossover between the eastbound and westbound tracks lies in the area just west of the yard exit.  The northern exit track from the yard merges with the westbound mainline track just before the station where the platform separates the eastbound and westbound tracks.

Metrolinx’ intent is that Mount Dennis will be a “Mobility Hub”, and the station is now actually designed with a view to that purpose.  However, there remain concerns about walking distances to various nearby facilities including the bus terminal and a community centre, but this is almost inevitable given that the “hub” stretches from Weston Road to Black Creek Drive.

Although Metrolinx shows generic drawings of primary and secondary exits, with escalators and elevators only at the former, their drawings do not show in detail the level of accessibility at various access points to the station and its satellite facilities such as the bus terminal.  This is a “Mobility Hub” in Metrolinx lingo, and the ability to easily circulate within it and to all nearby points will be essential.

The report includes a preliminary service plan with trains to operate at 2’00″ headways between Mount Dennis and Don Mills, with a 3’00″ headway beyond to Kennedy Station.  Proposed bus services and frequencies are also shown including a “34 Eglinton” route (a surface bus to supplement the LRT subway) at a 15’00″ headway.  (See pages 3-2 through 3-7 in Part II.)

Updated April 13, 2013 at 6:45 am:  Presentation materials from an April 10, 2013, public meeting on the Mount Dennis Mobility Hub design are now available.

This presentation includes a major change in the treatment of Eglinton Avenue and of the Mount Dennis station itself.  Previous schemes struggled with two physical problems at either end of the site:

  • At the east end, the retaining wall on the north side of Eglinton created a barrier and constraint to any significant change to the road layout, and the LRT alignment necessarily tunnelled through the hill behind the barrier to get under the rail corridor.
  • At the west end, the station box and provision for tracks west of the station caused design problems and conflicts with existing buildings.

The station now sits well east of Weston Road with the station box centred under the rail corridor. This shift also allows the old Kodak building to have a role as part of the station.

The existing retaining wall and the land north of it are dug out to provide a short section of surface LRT on the approach to the station.  This places the junction with yard tracks on the surface (rather than the original underground scheme, and allows the Eglinton corridor to be widened and improved as part of the future design of the Black Creek intersection.  (The design proposed at the December 2012 meeting moved the retaining wall, but not as dramatically as in the April 2013 version.)

Metrolinx is under no illusions that the type of neighbourhood this could become is many years away and will require efforts by the city to encourage development, but at least the transit scheme now attempts to be a catalyst for that development rather than taking the bare-bones “this is all we can afford” approach.

I was unable to attend the April 10 meeting, and welcome comments here from any reader who can give a sense of how this proposal was received by the community.

Updated December 13, 2012 at 8:45 am:  Presentation materials from the public meetings are now available online.  Links to them have been added to the article below along with my comments.

Metrolinx has announced two public meetings at which design changes to the Eglinton-Crosstown LRT project will be discussed.

Eglinton East — Leaside to Don Mills

Tuesday December 11, Ontario Science Centre (Telus Conference Room), Don Mills south of Eglinton, 7:00 to 9:00 pm

In the original plan, the LRT would have emerged onto the surface through a portal in the centre of Eglinton Avenue as it descended from Brentcliffe Road toward Leslie Street.  This location would also have been the tunnel launch site, a twin of the structure near Black Creek Drive.  This location conflicts with recent redevelopment of the area.

Metrolinx now proposes to continue the tunnel under the west branch of the Don River straight through to Don Mills Station.  The tunnel launch site will now be in the parking lot of the Ontario Science Centre.  The original design east of Don Mills remains with the line surfacing between Don Mills and the DVP.  The east branch of the Don River will be crossed at street level because this would be a much more difficult piece of tunneling given the valley’s depth and the need to bore through bedrock.  Leslie Station has been deleted from the plan.

Updated:  Presentation materials are now available online.

Laird to Don Mills Addendum Page

Detailed PDFs are included showing the original and proposed alignments for the Eglinton line from Laird Station to the Don Valley Parkway.

Although some costing information was discussed at the public meeting according to some who attended, this is not included in the presentation materials.  Among the benefits claimed for the revised plan:

  • Relocation of the launch shaft to Don Mills will put it in a better location with less effect on local residents and simpler engineering and construction (soil conditions and stabilization, site access).
  • No new or widened bridge is required for Eglinton Avenue and this eliminates effects on the river valley below.
  • Operation between Laird and Don Mills will be faster because it is underground and because there is no stop at Leslie.

Another stop to be removed is at Ferrand Drive between Don Mills and the DVP.  This stop is no longer physically possible as it conflicts with the exit ramp location that has shifted because a pocket track has been added east of Don Mills station.

What we are seeing here is a move away from surface construction and a return to the original Metrolinx view (dating back to the launch of Transit City) that Eglinton should be a high-speed “regional” line, not a local service.  Whether the surface design east from Don Mills and west from Weston will survive, especially if there is a political change at Queen’s Park to an anti-LRT administration, remains to be seen.

Metrolinx plans to have a revised Environmental Project Report completed in March 2013 for approval by May in time for tendering of the tunnel work.  The web page linked above includes provision for feedback which should be submitted by January 4, 2013.

Eglinton West — Mount Dennis

Wednesday December 12, York Memorial Collegiate, northwest corner of Keele & Eglinton, 6:30 to 9:30 pm

A revised alignment places the Weston Station underground on the northeast quadrant of the Weston-Eglinton intersection with an improved connection to the rail corridor as compared to previous plans.

A Metrolinx “mobility hub” is planned for this location, and part of the meeting will be devoted to working through community preferences for its design.  Also up for discussion are the preliminary plans for the Maintenance Facility on the former Kodak lands.

The original plan called for a wide box tunnel section west of Weston Road that would have required demolition of several houses.  My understanding is that this will no longer be required, but await confirmation of this when Metrolinx publishes detailed designs.

One almost certain victim of changes to the plans will be the segment from Weston to Jane.  Neither the Jane LRT nor the Eglinton West extension to the airport are part of the recently-announced Phase 2 of “Big Move” projects, and a mobility hub at Weston suggests that it will be the western terminal for some years to come.

This is made quite clear in the project description on the Metrolinx Crosstown Project page where the line is described as running from “Black Creek to Kennedy Station” and the map shows the western end at Mt. Dennis.  The map has not yet been updated to reflect underground construction east to Don Mills.

Updated:  Presentation materials are now available online.

Keele to Jane Addendum Page

Mount Dennis Mobility Hub Page

The new design confirms that Weston Station has been redesigned to lie further east than its original site and with a good connection to a future GO station because the LRT station platform will now be partly under the rail corridor.  The planned three-track section west of the station has been eliminated and this resolved problems with property conflicts along the north side of Eglinton Avenue.

The section west to Jane Street is now clearly shown as being part of “Phase 2″ of the project, and it would not be built until the western extension to Pearson Airport occurs, if ever.

The transition out of the tunnel at Black Creek drive has been modified so that Eglinton Avenue would now swing south of the portal, and the LRT would cross Black Creek on a bridge dipping back underground after an at-grade junction with access tracks to the maintenance facility on the former Kodak lands.

The Mobility Hub study is in some ways much more ambitious than the LRT plan because it foresees a much revised and revived set of neighbourhoods around the future LRT and GO station.  The challenge here will be to maintain this vision through changing political and economic climates over the next decade until the LRT line is in operation and acting as an anchor for Mount Dennis.

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246 Responses to Metrolinx Announces Design Changes and Public Meetings on Eglinton LRT (Update 8)

  1. Richard says:

    “Mikey says:

    May 17, 2013 at 12:18 am

    @Richard

    I also prefer the side-of-the-road proposal for the reasons you’ve mentioned. I just think that it’s not absolutely critical for the Eglinton LRT to operate effectively. I also think that it’s wishful thinking to believe that Metrolinx would consider switching to the south-side option at this point in time.”

    Ok Mikey, you make some fair points. But why is it wishful thinking to think that Metrolinx would switch to the south-side option at this point? It’s a relatively minor change from the approved EA (certainly compared to the underground option that they were pushing only three weeks ago) and it will be years (3 or 4 at least I’d guess) before they’re actually building the above ground section east of Brentcliffe portal. The traffic situation in Leaside is awful now, but imagine when the cars trying to turn up Leslie have only one left turn lane, that has to cross the LRT. It will be gridlock all the way past Laird not to mention the side streets in Leaside north and west of Brentcliffe and Eglinton.

    When the tunnel extension was proposed, there seemed to be lots of time for public meetings and debates and complaints, but now that a south-side alignment is suggested, it seems that there’s no time and “too bad – it’s too late.”

    Steve: Part of the problem here, aside from political machinations at City Hall, is that the AFP process requires Metrolinx to lock down the design relatively early in the process so that they can go through the tendering process for private sector partners based on a fixed design. I am willing to be convinced that AFP is actually useful, but there is so much ideology surrounding its use that the “smoke and mirrors” factor trumps everything else.

  2. Sjors says:

    Steve said:

    It was not a political decision. Metrolinx already has approval for the surface option, and would have needed political approval to change to the tunnel. Going back to the original scheme is not, at least overtly, a political decision.

    I still don’t get why we can’t just find the political will to bury the damn thing all the way to Don Mills?

    What if there is enough demand to convert the underground section to a subway in 25-30 years? You’ll have all of the tunnelling costs covered for that portion of the line and conversion could be really easy to do. Unfortunately people think of the “me-now” and “lowest cost” options.

    Too bad we’re starting to think like Americans… if only we could look to the future with this line the way we did when we created the CANDU reactors and didn’t use the cheap stuff that the Americans and Japanese use that caused both the Three Mile Island meltdown and Fukushima disasters.

    Whatever happened to the “spend a dollar more today which could save you many more dollars tomorrow” attitude?

    Steve: This argument fails if one does not agree with “we will need a subway” as a premise. The Eglinton line will be intercepted at Don Mills by the DRL, and the accumulated peak demand is not projected to come close to subway levels.

    The line is only on the map because the Kennedy to Airport original version was comparatively cheap with only 1/3 of it underground. If we had presumed a full subway from day one, it would likely never have been built, and would be competing with subway fantasies on Sheppard for attention.

  3. George N from Don Mills says:

    Metrolinx plans to “square off” the Leslie and Eglinton intersection by removing the flared ramp-like connections to Leslie. This will make the intersection much safer for pedestrians.

    In addition to the single left turn lane at the Eglinton/Leslie intersection, a U Turn can be added further east on Eglinton, wrapping around the Don Mills LRT Portal. Eastbound traffic will then have the option of using the U-Turn to go north on Leslie. The U Turn will act like a relief valve for the intersection.

  4. Ron 25 says:

    I’ve proposed on this site that the re-routing for the 54 Lawrence be changed to continue service to/from Leslie and Eglinton via Lawrence and Leslie and then to/from Don Mills and Eglinton via Eglinton. Lots of folks need to get to the corporate stuff on Leslie and the Toronto Botatnical Garden. If the 54 went on Don Mills, getting to Leslie requires a new route on Lawrence (the 162 won’t do). It also would provide a connection from Don Mills and Eglinton to those places. The 25 already provides frequent service on Don Mills. Since there will be a station at Leslie, it does not inconvenience the passengers on the 54 either.

    Steve: I suspect that passengers transferring to the 54 would prefer (a) to do so in a protected environment at Don Mills, and (b) would also prefer to avoid the extra running time of a trip via Leslie.

  5. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    Steve: (May 17 update) The SRT trains would use the upper level which is designed as a large loop at the existing mezzanine level of the station. The Eglinton trains would use the lower level which is designed as a conventional centre platform terminal station with a crossover.

    Does the TTC really, really dislike cross-platform interchanges? I personally do not like stacked interchange designs and cannot think of anyone I know who does…while cross-platform interchanges are easier to understand, quicker to use and more accessible …

    I would have thought that this would be one opportunity to build a cross-platform interchange in Toronto.

    And yes, I know Sheppard East is a direct transfer along the platform (at least until the day comes when we finally wise up and convert the Sheppard subway to LRT and can run trains from Scarborough to Jane street) but I’d still like to see a cross-platform interchange.

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: The two transfer movements from the SRT will require only that passengers descend one level either as at Spadina Station Loop (LRT to subway) or at St. George (SLRT to ECLRT). That’s about as good as you can expect for three lines and an existing subway station.

  6. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    I have to say, I’m curious to know why (from the PIC document) the Scarborough-Malvern LRT would have been connected to the Crosstown interchange by a walkway rather than a transfer along the platform as proposed for Sheppard East.

    Also, where would the Crosstown tracks go up to in the picture? The lines would have merged at some point for runs to the yard but there wouldn’t have been any revenue service, correct?

    Finally, does the TTC have any plans for the SRT level after the SRT is rebuilt? I suppose a cafe with a view would be too much to ask?

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: The Crosstown connection to the SRT is clearly shown in the blue lines that turn north along the right-of-way. The Scarborough-Malvern line is at the same level as the mezzanine of the existing station. This provides a direct transfer with only one change of level to any of the connecting services. It also avoids any conflict with the tail track structure that lies east of the subway platform.

    Correction: The Scarborough-Malvern line is at the same level as the subway, not the mezzanine.

    Cafe on the top level? Mausoleum, more likely.

  7. James G says:

    It’s a pity that they went for the later design at Yonge, the opportunity for a “Spanish Solution” would have been quite useful to alleviate crowding.

    Steve: What exactly did you have in mind? Coming in through the old bus terminal concourse puts the LRT passengers at the middle of the subway platform and gives good distribution. Coming in through the north end of the subway platform would have compounded an existing problem with busy “north end” stations at York Mills and Sheppard.

    The underground tangle of utilities and existing passageways limits the options for this connection.

  8. George N from Don Mills says:

    Hi Steve,

    I came across this Youtube video of a LRT and Roundabout combination. It is an animation of proposed three leg roundabout at Courtland & Block Line in Waterloo, ON. It is the location of a future LRT station for the Waterloo LRT project.

    I believe that the same, or similar design can be implemented at Leslie and Eglinton, assuming that there is enough land. I hope that the vacant land in the northeast corner of the intersection can be utilized.

    Thanks George

    Steve: Doing rough scaling off of the animation, there are four lanes (two each way) on what would be the “Eglinton” part of this roundabout, and the circle between them is at least the equivalent of another six. There is also some land taken for the shoulders of the roundabout particularly on the “Leslie” leg. I suspect that constraints at Eglinton/Leslie of parkland (south and west sides) and the railway (east) could make life difficult here. Another important issue for which we would need traffic study details is the volume of traffic expected for each type of movement through the roundabout. Looking at the animation, the amount of traffic crossing the LRT seems comparatively small whereas at Leslie/Eglinton, the big concern is the capacity for the east-to-north left turn.

    My own preference remains the south side alignment completely separating the LRT from the traffic flow with adjustments to or complete closure of the Celestica ramps on the south side of Eglinton. Some comments here have talked about park space, but this design is only a shuffling of lanes within the existing planned envelope, not an additional incursion into the park.

    Looking at the detail maps (and Google) for this location, the intersection in question does not now exist, but would be created by an extension of Block Line Road to Courtland through a large area of green space southwest of the future intersection. This connection is under construction. The proposed roundabout is not being built.

    The latest plan calls for a traffic signal at Block Line and Courtland. Planners had considered a roundabout but it would have been tricky with the rail transit station planned beside the intersection. “It would have been a very complicated roundabout,” said Muhammad Memon, project manager for the Block Line extension. Trains will run beside Courtland in 2017. [From the KW Record.]

  9. Richard says:

    “George N from Don Mills says:

    May 17, 2013 at 11:03 am

    …In addition to the single left turn lane at the Eglinton/Leslie intersection, a U Turn can be added further east on Eglinton, wrapping around the Don Mills LRT Portal. Eastbound traffic will then have the option of using the U-Turn to go north on Leslie. The U Turn will act like a relief valve for the intersection.”

    Thanks for the above comment George N. I believe there are a number of ways we can make Leslie and Eglinton better than the approved EA and I appreciate people turning their minds to the problem. Unfortunately, I don’t think your U-turn idea would fly because it would require a stop light on Eglinton at the end of the portal and just west of Don Mills.

    Re: Kennedy station

    “Steve: The Crosstown connection to the SRT is clearly shown in the blue lines that turn north along the right-of-way. The Scarborough-Malvern line is at the same level as the mezzanine of the existing station. This provides a direct transfer with only one change of level to any of the connecting services. It also avoids any conflict with the tail track structure that lies east of the subway platform.”

    I believe the Scarborough-Malvern line is to be at subway level, in line (but east of) the Eglinton-Crosstown platform. The subway (platform and tailtracks) are parallel and south of the Eglinton tracks which curve north to connect to the SRT tracks after they all surface north of Eglinton. So the Crosstown tracks won’t interfere with the subway tailtracks. When (if) the Scarborough-Malvern line gets built, it’s (non-revenue) tracks would extend west and hook up to the Eglinton-Crosstown tracks. You would have a straight run through from the Eglinton-Crosstown platform to the Scarborough-Malvern platform with a junction in the middle with the connecting track up to the SRT. In theory then, you could through-route Eglinton and the SRT or Eglinton and the Scarborough-Malvern although this would create a massively long line.

    Steve: I will follow up on this to see if Metrolinx has a current plan and elevation for the station to explain how it will work.

    Yes, you are correct, the Scarborough Malvern line does come in at the same elevation as the subway and the Eglinton-Crosstown line.

    Re: Eglinton station original EA design

    “Steve: The underground tangle of utilities and existing passageways limits the options for this connection.”

    Here we go again. It limits options but it’s not impossible. (Sound like the rationale for moving the launch site from Brentcliffe?) I spoke to one of the Metrolinx people at the last open-house and he said the reason they were changing the Eglinton connection was that the one in the EA was going to be too complicated (thus expensive) as they’d have to shore up the subway line, etc. He acknowledged that it was an inferior plan to have people go up from the subway, across and then back down 2 levels to the LRT (below the subway) but they were worried about cost and getting it done on schedule. He did say they would be protecting for adding the direct LRT to subway connections in the future.

    I think this whole Eglinton line is being done on the fly and it’s a shame. Eglinton station could be done better, the Brentcliffe-Don Mills corridor definitely needs improving over the EA, and Don Mills Station itself will be inferior. I say this about Don Mills because, as Steve has said, they don’t seem to be planning for the future DRL connection. At one point Don Mills was going to have 3 tracks and 2 platforms to allow for turn-backs at the end of the tunnel. Now that they’ve given up on tunneling to Don Mills, I assume they’re back to a regular centre-platform station underground. The storage track (for short-turns) will be east of Laird station.

    Don Mills screams for an elegant design like that of Lionel-Groulx in Montreal. A few years ago I even sketched out a plan for twisting the tunnels and having cross-platform transfers work smoothly. It would have stacked centre platforms running diagonally under the intersection. Most people would go north to east, or east to north (and west to south and south to west) I would imagine. It could even work if one line was LRT and one was subway. But alas, that’s a pipe dream. It would require a lot of cash (and foresight) and I know it won’t happen. It’s too bad though, as now’s the time to build it before the intersection is too built up.

    Steve: The track map in the original EPR clearly shows both a crossover and pocket track at Don Mills Station. See Exhibit 99 at pages 14-16 in section “3.4.10 Special Track Work”.

    I will agree that provincial insistence on freezing the total dollar value of the project has caused problems with the evolution of the design, not to mention various types of political interference along the way. In a less charged atmosphere, we might have had a better-informed discussion about optional alignments. The folks in Mt. Dennis forced the issue, but until the issue with Leslie Station came along, nobody was beating the drum for changes on the eastern side.

  10. Walter says:

    I always thought the reason the the Eglinton Crosstown was not being connected to the SRT was that it was planned to be connected with the Scarborough-Malvern. Looking at slide 13 of the 2010 presentation, it appears that this is not so – every line will end at Kennedy and everyone will be required to make a transfer. Would it not make more sense to just run the line continuous through this location? It would save the cost of one platform (i.e. a separate platform for SRT and ECLRT would not be needed). I would also think that the LRT platform could be built directly above the Subway platform (but offset by maybe half a stations length longitudinally to allow use of the subway during construction), making the transfer much easier. Cross over tracks, and pocket-track if required, could be placed in the corridor just north of Eglinton (at-grade) for much less cost. It would serve only occasional (emergency) short-turns and not planned ones.

    The savings from this could be used towards elevating the ECLRT above Eglinton from Kennedy to Don Mills. With only one level of LRT above the subway, it could be built at a higher elevation (less depth) and the tracks could surface east of Kennedy and be fully elevated before crossing Kennedy. This would allow for the portal construction in an open parking lot, instead of with all the additional traffic control costs and disruptions associated with building it in the middle of Eglinton.

    Steve: The TTC was quite firm some time ago about the SRT and ECLRT operating as separate lines, and so that option is unlikely to get much traction. The LRT platform cannot go directly above the subway platform because this space is already occupied by the mezzanine level of the station. The proposed new double-deck structure is under the bus loop which will make construction fairly straightforward compared with trying to repurpose part of the existing station.

    As for saving money so as to elevate the Don Mills to Kennedy section, you undermine your arguments for Kennedy itself by linking them to such a proposal which is not a trivial change in the design. If you want to argue for an Eglinton elevated, do that on its merits first, and then figure out how to pay for it (I doubt what you propose at Kennedy would come close, by the way).

  11. Mikey says:

    I thought interchange stations with existing TTC subway lines were to be done by traditional DBB, not AFP.

    TTC has a greater involvement in design of the interchange stations, but I think that they are still AFP for construction and maintenance up to a demarcation point with the original station.

  12. Walter says:

    Richard said:
    I spoke to one of the Metrolinx people at the last open-house and he said the reason they were changing the Eglinton connection was that the one in the EA was going to be too complicated (thus expensive) as they’d have to shore up the subway line, etc. He acknowledged that it was an inferior plan to have people go up from the subway, across and then back down 2 levels to the LRT (below the subway) but they were worried about cost and getting it done on schedule.

    Is there any measure for the capacity of a station or an interchange. We keep hearing numbers about the capacity of subway, underground LRT, surface LRT, etc, but never for a station. I realize each station is unique and it is more difficult to quantify, but it would be interesting to know what is the capacity (including interchange capacity) of each of the Yonge proposals. It seems intuitive that a direct connection to the subway platform is better, but by how much.

    Besides saving money, could they also be trying to make this interchange a bit more inconvenient to encourage transfers at Eglinton West Station instead of Eglinton?

    Steve: Capacities depend a lot of corridor and stairway widths, and these details are not all clear from the available drawings. No, I don’t think they are trying to force people to Eglinton West, only to save money on construction at Yonge.

  13. Richard says:

    Re: Kennedy Stn.:

    “Steve: I will follow up on this to see if Metrolinx has a current plan and elevation for the station to explain how it will work.”

    Not absolutely necessary to follow-up, it’s right in the pdf to which you linked in your May 17 update (update 7) to this thread. See page 18, Kennedy Station – East-West Cross-Section.

    Steve: Ooops! I stopped clicking through the presentation one page early!

    Also Steve, you seem to have success getting e-mail responses from Jamie Robinson at Metrolinx. I sent him an e-mail re: south-side alignment and have not heard anything back, yet. I was curious if you could ask him if it’s even being considered for the Brentcliffe-Don Mills stretch. As I’ve said in other posts, I don’t know if it would even need and EA amendment as other changes such as Yonge-Eglinton seem to be able to be made without worrying that they’re different from the EA.

    Also, I noticed in the last concept designs for Laird Stn., they seem to have eliminated the secondary stop from the northwest corner of Laird and Eglinton. Is this final? Combined with the Bayview exits at the south-east side of Eglinton and the northwest corner, that means North Leaside will have NO LRT entrances. North Leasiders will have to cross Eglinton (or Bayview) to access the line. I would definitely like to see the Laird northwest entrance designed and built as the EA called for.

    Thanks so much.

    Steve: Stations do not legally require more than two entrances, and the south side entrances at Laird are both on vacant land. I can understand not wanting to walk to Brentcliffe, but not across Eglinton?

  14. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    Richard said:

    I think this whole Eglinton line is being done on the fly and it’s a shame.

    Looking back on the proposals listed in Ed Levy’s e-book, I’d say Eglinton has been getting the short end of the platform for about 40 years.

    We have:

    *Crosstown rapid transit
    *”Eglinton West “rapid transit” out to the airport
    *Eglinton West subway to Black Creek *cancelled
    *Crosstown LRT from Kennedy to Pearson
    *potential ICTS
    *LRT from Jane to Kennedy including tunnel from Keele to Laird
    *Underground LRT from Black Creek to Kennedy
    *LRT from Black Creek to Kennedy with tunnel from Black Creek to Brentcliffe
    *LRT from Weston to Kennedy with tunnel from Black Creek to Brentcliffe
    *LRT from Weston to Kennedy with tunnel from Black Creek to Don Mills
    *LRT from Weston to Kennedy with tunnel from Black Creek to Brentcliffe

    Did I miss anything? Will the province find $80 dollars somewhere and have Metrolinx move back to underground routing with a station at Leslie? Will the Eglinton and Don Mills interchange be as grand as possible? Will there finally be a decent TTC/GO rail connection? All this and more … are completely unknown.

    Cheers, Moaz

  15. ncarlson says:

    “Did I miss anything?”

    Eglinton west trolleybus, largely killed by Forest Hill not liking wires.

  16. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    Obviously that should have been “will the province find $80 million dollars….”

    Cheers, Moaz

  17. Tom says:

    Hey Steve,

    You’ve indicated in a few of your comments above that the DRL will siphon off Crosstown riders heading to downtown at its terminus at Eg and Don Mills. I realize that the northern phase of the DRL, from Bloor to Eglinton, will be studied, but do you have any definitive information that this northern leg will be a priority for the Province? Do the ridership numbers warrant its quick development after a Bloor to St. Andrews leg is complete, or will we be stuck with merely the Bloor south phase for an indefinite period of time (i.e. a generation or so)?

    Thanks.

    Steve: All I have to go by is that the Don Mills extension is often mentioned, but I fear we might be stuck with only the south end for some time. This would be a shame because the line could become an important new route to the inner suburbs. Ridership projections are not astronomical, but the nature of the route is such that it will have to be grade separated from Danforth to Eglinton no matter what. (This was a failing with the Transit City “Don Mills LRT” that presumed a surface alignment over this segment.)

  18. Ron 25 says:

    Way back when the Crosstown was to be in the tunnel at Leslie, the condo folks up the hill wanted an $80 million dollar station down the road in case they felt like taking a walk. They were looking to future development and other good things that would justify the $80M. Now they are getting their station – but no tunnel and the promise of major traffic disruption. Are those folks and their allies celebrating or was their support for the station conditional on its being in the tunnel? The Robinson twins (separately) announced this absence of a tunnel as some sort of victory for the locals. But have we heard from the condo? Interestingly, the Toyota dealer has made no comments either way.

  19. William Paul says:

    “Interestingly, the Toyota dealer has made no comments either way.”

    The Toyota dealer could not care less. I would bet that over 90% of anyone visiting any car dealership in the City drives, they do not take transit. When buying new car most people are trading in old car so this guy doesn’t care.

    The condo beside Toyota I don’t think really cares a lot either. When you look at the individual stop boarding counts for this intersection they are not very high and the counts did not rise when the condos were built. (Give or take the counts have not really changed since the mid-70′s) I know someone who lives int that condo and they bought because it was a quiet little oasis in the middle of the city, not for transit.

  20. Ron 25 says:

    @William P – Exactly. The Toyota dealer at the corner has no use for transit – but the condo owners petitioned for the tunnel to have a station at Leslie. So did your friend sign the petition? The condo owners were cited as the community that wants the station and the above ground option is what they and the Toyota dealer are getting. I predict there will be another petition to put it back in the tunnel – and request a station.

  21. Vic says:

    I have a question with regards to Eglinton Station. I’ve always wondered if the Crosstown line construction would impact the station directly. I have thought for a long time that the TTC should try and keep its last remaining vitrolite tiles for as long as possible since they still look amazing. Would the construction of a new station at Yonge and Eglinton require the dismantling of the vitrolite panels?

    Steve: Some areas may be affected. The TTC has little interest in preserving what remains because it is extremely difficult to detach tiles from the wall intact. As it was, other gray stations were “mined” for whole tiles to make repairs years ago at Eglinton, and the TTC may have an inventory of spares.

  22. George N from Don Mills says:

    Richard said

    “Unfortunately, I don’t think your U-turn idea would fly because it would require a stop light on Eglinton at the end of the portal and just west of Don Mills.”

    I envisioned the U-Turn lane around the Don Mills portal without signal lights. In Orlando they have lots of U-Turn lanes this way.

    Steve said

    “My own preference remains the south side alignment completely separating the LRT from the traffic flow with adjustments to or complete closure of the Celestica ramps on the south side of Eglinton.”

    I agree that the south side alignment is the best solution. To make this possible we will need to look at these options:

    1) Add 2nd Left Turn lane at Eglinton and Leslie
    2) Add Roundabout at Leslie and Eglinton (LRT will not intersect this roundabout)
    3) Remove Celestica Ramps, and replace with Roundabout?
    4) Add a U-Turn Lane without signal lights around the Don Mills Portal.

  23. Richard says:

    “George N from Don Mills said:
    I agree that the south side alignment is the best solution. To make this possible we will need to look at these options:

    1) Add 2nd Left Turn lane at Eglinton and Leslie
    2) Add Roundabout at Leslie and Eglinton (LRT will not intersect this roundabout)
    3) Remove Celestica Ramps, and replace with Roundabout?
    4) Add a U-Turn Lane without signal lights around the Don Mills Portal.

    I’m curious, George: (ok, bad combination of words), but seriously:
    If we have the south-side alignment why the need/benefit of having 1 or 2 roundabouts?
    And without signals at the U-turn do we need an extra left-turn lane going eastbound and a merge-in lane (from the U-turn) going westbound? How does it work in Florida?

    Steve: At this point I am going to shut down this discussion as I think we have had enough tit-for-tat back and forth on the subject. I believe that the usefulness of roundabouts has been exaggerated, that one is impractical at Leslie, and now we are talking about a second at Celestica rather (where traffic is claimed to be light) rather than just shutting down the eastbound ramps.

    Please note that any future comments on this subject will be deleted unless they contain truly new, useful information.

  24. john says:

    Hi

    Would you happen to know if Metrolinx is committed to keeping the Weston GO Station? The Mount Dennis mobility hub seems really close to the Weston GO Station so I am concerned they will ultimately close Weston.

    Steve: They are only committed to having a station somewhere in Weston, and I suspect that current thinking is that when an Eglinton station opens, the one at Lawrence will close. However, this is at least seven years in the future (corresponding to the opening of the Eglinton LRT), and the line should have been electrified sooner, the whole matter of station spacing (and the role of the UPX) may be re-thought.

  25. George Neto from Don Mills says:

    From the “Feasibility and Benefits of Roundabouts in Toronto” Staff Report, pages 6-7 re Capacity:

    “In Toronto, most of the major arterial roads that have signalized intersections exceed the traffic capacity requirements of either a single- or double-lane roundabout. ” (i.e. 34,000 AADT for a double lane roundabout)

    “As an example, at the intersection of Don Mills Road and Eglinton Avenue East, which
    has been cited as a candidate location for a roundabout, the AADT approach volumes are approximately 90,000, far exceeding the capacity of a two-lane roundabout.”

    The City of Toronto Average Weekday 24 Hour Traffic Volumes are found here.

    Therefore, based on the above city staff report, a double lane roundabout at Leslie and Eglinton is not feasible since it will not handle the “Average Annual Daily Traffic” (AADT) volume.

    I guess I have come full-circle on this one! I promise to not mention roundabouts again! :)

    Thanks
    George

    Steve: A good point made by that report is that roundabouts are incompatible with pedestrian activities. After all, the whole purpose of this design is to encourage faster traffic flow through the intersection than might be achieved with signals. If you have to forcibly stop traffic to allow for pedestrian crossings, this is counterproductive.

    Thanks for digging up the report. I suggest that anyone interested in the topic read it, but don’t add to this comment thread ;) .

  26. Robert Wightman says:

    Re roundabouts;

    Waterloo has put in several roundabouts and Grand River Transit is in a $17 million dollar law suit because one of there buses hit a student on exiting a round about. Apparently there is a pedestrian crossing just after the exit from the round about and since the driver is looking towards the left side of the street is difficult to see pedestrians crossing from the right side. Some engineering prof said that the whole design was a disaster and should be removed before someone is killed. Roundabouts are for traffic not pedestrians.

    Ask anyone who has walked in London about their attitude to pedestrians. I asked a bobby if pedestrians had any rights. His reply was “They have the right to a Christian burial.” I assume that this has been updated to a burial service of your choice.

  27. Sjors says:

    What is with this roundabout discussion? Do you seriously think a 6-lane road should have a roundabout? How about we try placing roundabouts where expressways and 400-series highways intersect … I’m sure a roundabout will make Allen-401 more easy to navigate!

    I still think they need to tunnel to Don Mills. Metrolinx is being utterly lazy. I can’t believe that when you have 2 options that cost the same amount, they take the one that requires the least “work” to do on their end because they are that lazy! I guess that is where our hard-earned tax dollars go. If that’s the case, they should all get paid $35-40k/yr not $70k/yr which I’ve seen the “average” job posting state is the target pay.

  28. Richard says:

    The question is: Is there a chance for the south-side alignment? I think, and others have said, that there’s more to the tunnel-cancelling decision than simply, “Leslie complained and we listened.”

    But whatever the real reason(s), it’s important that they still make a smart decision that is completely doable.

    Steve, what’s your sense from Metrolinx? Do you think they are now considering the south-side alignment from Brentcliffe to Don Mills that we all seem to prefer to the median alignment in the EA? And if not, why not?

    Steve: I have sent a note to Metrolinx asking about the degree to which, if at all, the south side alignment was considered and, if so, why it was rejected.

  29. L. Wall says:

    Roundabouts are something cute that some people have seen in other places so Toronto needs one. At least that’s my take on their romantic view of these things. (Yes I know there are a few small ones in the city.)

  30. Richard says:

    “I have sent a note to Metrolinx asking about the degree to which, if at all, the south side alignment was considered and, if so, why it was rejected.”

    Thank you Steve! Hopefully there’s still a chance for the south-side alignment.

  31. Misha says:

    As of May 21st, THE NDP has approved the budget avoiding an emergency 2013 election and having a crowned conservative terminate the much needed Eglinton Line again.

    Mind you the worst case scenario now will either be in October 2013 or May/June 2014 if the Liberals are still minorities.

    But a 2015 best case scenario election will most likely happen regardless of whether they are minorities or majorities.

  32. Misha says:

    Now for those Tunnel boring machines to start from one big hole and dig and put the railway line (LRT) all the way to Kennedy.

    Any idea as to when tunneling or one of the tunnel machines start their tunnel?

    Steve: I believe that actual tunneling will start in June 2013 following completion of the assembly of the machines.

  33. Michael S says:

    I really hope the folks on the Crosstown website improve their communication on construction progress. All the announcements about a mock-up vehicle touring the land are really lame in contrast to real construction progress updates, and that the announcement of the winning names for the TBM naming contest will be released “soon” has been on their website for months is laughable. At their present rate, the next announcement will come when the line opens, “We’re done!” I realize small accomplishments aren’t worthy of the front page of the newspaper, but on their website to post weekly construction updates like Waterfront Toronto is doing will at least give the sense that something is actually being accomplished (to folks who don’t drive past the TBM launch site daily).

  34. Mikey says:

    Can Metrolinx’s Big Move website not link to the old TTC presentation materials or EA’s done for the LRT projects? I assume that those EA reports have no detailed designs in them (just preliminary designs), so it’s not like the retendering of the projects through AFP is going to make the details of the projects outdated, right?

    I ask this because some really useful information (on number of lanes, station locations, potential property acquisitions, cross-section, etc.) included in the TTC presentations and documents doesn’t appear anywhere on Metrolinx website.

    (I had thought that the TTC didn’t want its name or brand plastered all over the LRT projects’ websites, to avoid the perception that the TTC is actively involved in the designing and project management. But I see that the Crosstown website includes links to the old 2010-approved reports).

    Steve: For a time after Mayor Ford’s “cancellation” of Transit City, all of the EA materials vanished. They are still online, but they are not linked, as far as I know, from any common page. You have to search for them project by project. Yes, it would be useful for both Metrolinx and the City to make this information more accessible.

  35. Mikey says:

    Speaking of Eglinton, when the Eglinton BRT was first proposed for Network 2011, how far did the BRT’s design progress until the switch to the subway technology was made? Was the BRT to be on the surface to Allen Road?

    Steve: The Eglinton BRT would have been little better than “BRT Lite”, or buses in mixed traffic with some sort of reserved lane, from the Allen to Jane where right-of-way for a fully separated corridor was available (just as with the LRT). However, as a design I don’t think it progressed beyond a line on a map before it morphed into a full subway.

  36. NCarlson says:

    “Steve:

    The Eglinton BRT would have been little better than “BRT Lite”, or buses in mixed traffic with some sort of reserved lane, from the Allen to Jane where right-of-way for a fully separated corridor was available (just as with the LRT). However, as a design I don’t think it progressed beyond a line on a map before it morphed into a full subway.”

    I actually think you may be mistaken on that point. The Eglinton West subway EA has some pretty detailed design for a BRT that goes underground somewhere between Jane and Black Creek. The intention all along certainly seems to have been that any BRT would have been underground or trenched.

    Steve: I will dig into my archives to see if I have those drawings, and will post samples here if so.

  37. Richard says:

    Steve, what’s your sense from Metrolinx? Do you think they are now considering the south-side alignment from Brentcliffe to Don Mills that we all seem to prefer to the median alignment in the EA? And if not, why not?

    Steve: I have sent a note to Metrolinx asking about the degree to which, if at all, the south side alignment was considered and, if so, why it was rejected.

    Hi Steve,

    I was just curious if you had heard anything back from Metrolinx (officially or unofficially) regarding the south-side alignment from the eastern portal to the Don Mills western portal.

    Steve: I have sent three notes, plus a few in person reminders, but nothing. I have now escalated this request up the chain at Metrolinx.

  38. Richard says:

    “In brief, yes they looked at it, although not in the context of the original EA. Shifting to the south presents problems for the river crossing and the tunnel launch shaft, but might have survived as an option if Metrolinx had not decided to go all-underground to Don Mills. Now that they’re back on the surface, they are sticking with the original plan”

    Firstly Steve, I can’t thank you enough for your perseverance with Metrolinx in finally getting an answer to the “south-side alignment” question. I and a few others have been going on about this for a while and I really appreciate you pushing on our behalf as well as your own to get a response. This exhibits one of the real values of the service you provide by writing and administering this blog. Again, thank you!

    As far as the actual response from Metrolinx, I’m disappointed, a little perplexed and annoyed. I don’t know what “HMM” is but the study and report that was done in Feb. 2012 (which I guess was internal for Metrolinx) seems to be the one that should have had the public input. The most logical option(s) were thrown out by Metrolinx before they saw the light of day, and then Metrolinx wasted an entire year pushing the all underground option which then turned out to be a non-starter. So now, due to time constraints, we’re back to step one. It’s a shame. And Jamie Robinson’s mention of “Generally, however, It is very difficult (if not impossible) to relocate the portal from the centre of Eglinton (as proposed in the current design) and shift it to the south side of the right-of-way and continue to use the existing bridge.” is weak and reminds me of how they said the same about the launch site east of Brentcliffe.

    I’ve beaten this horse to death, so I promise I’ll drop it. But in closing it worries me that if this is how this issue is handled, how many other decisions are being rushed in the frantic attempt to stay on schedule. Anyone care to wager whether we’ll be riding the Crosstown on or before New Year’s Eve 2020?

    Steve: HMM is a consulting engineering firm, Hatch Mott MacDonald. As for Robinson’s comments, he is in the Metrolinx Communications section and is only bearing the message on behalf of the techies elsewhere. But, yes, it does seem as if they threw out a good idea prematurely, and a good deal of discussion that could have been in public took place behind closed doors. It is possible that this was in part due to problems with the Ford faction at City Hall and the desire to avoid public debate as much as possible.

  39. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    What is the status of tunnel boring preparations in the east end? I wonder what would/could happen if they managed to find $80 million to cover the cost of a Leslie Station. Yes, such a station at Leslie is going to be talked about in the same vein as Ellesmere and Bessarion but that’s transit in Toronto.

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: You are out of touch. The Leslie Station will be on the surface as that’s what is in the original EA. Low demand won’t be an issue because it will be a simple platform in the middle of the street east of the intersection.

    As for the tunneling, the second set of boring machines is still under construction and won’t launch until next year. The site will be on the hillside north of the new condos in the old Leaside industrial park.

  40. John says:

    Hi Steve and fellow participants,

    Recently, Scarborough Transit Action held an event regarding how public-private-partnerships (P3s) threaten the creation of good jobs, public safety and public control over the delivery of new transit.

    Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the meeting.

    As a result, I’m wondering if I could get your opinion(s) on P3′s, and whether it’s a good or bad idea for the Eglinton-Crosstown LRT.

    Cheers,

    John

  41. Moaz Yusuf Ahmad says:

    Steve:

    You are out of touch. The Leslie Station will be on the surface as that’s what is in the original EA. Low demand won’t be an issue because it will be a simple platform in the middle of the street east of the intersection.

    And you have misunderstood my point. I already know that Leslie is (now) going to be above ground as per Metrolinx’s sudden decision to go back to the original EA (despite them claiming for months that it was better to run underground all the way to Don Mills).

    I’m wondering if Metrolinx would be willing to revisit putting that segment underground if they could find the $80 million extra needed for an underground station at Leslie, and weren’t afraid of opening up a can of worms with Toronto council.

    Since Metrolinx has hemmed & hawed about Eglinton for 5 years now, I don’t necessarily see them stopping any time soon.

    Cheers, Moaz

    Steve: Any talk of “extra” funding is unlikely to be directed to an underground Leslie Station. There are more pressing needs in Metrolinx’ plans.

  42. Sjors says:

    I know this is going to sound snarky and intellectually challenged but is there someone that we can contact to find out: a) who is smoking the same crack as our Mayor making lazy decisions like the above-grade section between Brentcliffe & Don Mills, b) why they are too lazy to conduct whatever EA assessment they need to tunnel it instead?

    This reeks of laziness. After all, if the costs are similar in the end, why be lazy and NOT conduct the “tunnelling option” EA?

    Steve: It’s not a question of laziness. Metrolinx does not want to reopen the approval of the Eglinton line by launching an EA amendment that could be snarled at City Hall.

  43. Mikey says:

    There’s nothing stopping whoever the future agency is from considering the south-side option again in the future, after the infrastructure will have to be reconstructed. As impractical as shifting an alignment and portal sounds, nothing stopped the TTC/City from entertaining the ideas of:

    - relocating existing portals along the Queens Quay LRT, or
    - converting an underground/surface LRT to a full-fledged subway.

    Whether the option of shifting alignment during reconstruction will be chosen is another matter.

  44. Walter says:

    The Metrolinx response seems to suggest that the option first chosen by Hatch (HMM) was to have the portal east of the DVP – with a similar cost to having the portal west of Don Mills. Is there enough room between the DVP and Wynford for this or did they actually mean east of the East Branch of the Don River? Would the DVP ramps not function better without a median LRT?

    Steve: Moving the portal east of the DVP would have killed off the Ferrand stop, and that was not politically acceptable. The DVP will just have to put up with the LRT traffic. As for the east branch of the Don, tunnelling under it would be challenging because of the grades involved and the fact that the bedrock is very close to the surface.

    It seems that they are comparing a South side alignment (and the tunneling options) that maintains all existing lanes of traffic to a median option that takes away two lanes from traffic, and looses the ability to run with automated train control to the Don Mills hub. They do not seem to consider the level of service improvements by the first two options.

    I imagine that the HMM report is not available publicly.

    I also doubt that some bonus would be put in the contract if the contractor could maintain automated trains to Don Mills by letting the contractor do the EA work for the separate bridge? (I would guess that the tunneling and underground stations are on the critical path and the bridge construction could start later).

  45. Peter Gatt says:

    As I am sure you are well aware of Metrolinx buying the Kodak building #9 and planning to convert it into a LRT Hub, but are you also aware that the Photographic Museum of Ontario is trying to purchase the building from Metrolinx (or at least work with them) to make this building the new home for the museum?

    The Photographic Museum of Ontario has been trying to speak with Malon Edwards, a spokesperson for Metrolinx and Glen Murray, the Minister of Infrastructure (they overlook Metrolinx) and neither have been willing to sit down with the museum to at least have a conversation about what is best for the building and the community.

    For more information about the museum, it’s progress of to offer support, please visit its website.

  46. Roshan Sri says:

    Just one question, will Don Mills station be underground on the Eglinton lrt?

    Steve: Yes. Please see the preliminary design drawing for Don Mills on the Crosstown project site.

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