Updated June 15, 2013 at 4:20 pm:
The shortest streetcar line in the world exists, albeit without service, as the first piece of new surface track appeared on the 509 Harbourfront route at the Peter Street slip.
On June 11, the eight expansion joints for the future bridge crossing were set more or less in place on the new bridge deck.
By June 13, the tangent rails had been added, although the expansion joints at the west end of the bridge (below) …
… had not yet been attached.
Note that, like subway track, the rails are mounted directly on the bridge deck, not on ties. This approach is needed because the bridge design does not include the depth needed for the layer of ties normally found in TTC streetcar track.
The view below shows a close up of a test section of track built just west of the corner of Bay and Queens Quay. The use of the rubber sleeve to mechanically isolate the track is quite clear. Under the plastic covers (with duct tape on them) are Pandrol clips holding the track to steel plates in the slab below. The slab containing the track is separate from the base slab so that only excavation of the top layer is needed for track replacement.
The original Harbourfront track did not have the rubber layer and was quite noisy because the whole trackbed vibrated as cars passed. This is one of the last pieces of mainline “thunder track” to be replaced on the TTC network, a process begun 20 years ago.
Updated May 15, 2013 at 1:40 pm:
TTC CEO Andy Byford spoke yesterday evening at a meeting of the York Quay Neighbourhood Association. The question of transit service on the waterfront this summer was a major topic.
At this point, there is some uncertainty about when streetcar service will resume first to the loop at Queens Quay & Spadina, and then to Union Station. A late November date had been mentioned by Waterfront Toronto in a recent briefing to the neighbourhood, but Byford himself talked spring 2014. His remarks implied that this was somehow connected with work on the Union Station second platform. If the real constraint is at Union, then completing the track on Queens Quay doesn’t appear to be the issue.
I have asked for clarification of the dates from the TTC who are, according to Byford, pushing Waterfront Toronto to get their work done.
In the meantime, there is a desire for improved service on the waterfront, and the TTC plans service increases on the 509 Harbourfront bus. Weekend headways improved on May 12, and weekday improvements are planned starting June 24.
In response to a question about “seamless” transit service across Queens Quay, Byford replied that the TTC is reviewing travel patterns, but there is very strong demand to Union Station and the idea of replacing the rail link up Bay Street with some sort of people mover in the existing tunnel is a non-starter. The 65 Parliament bus may be extended west, and the 6 Bay bus east to Parliament if demand warrants it.
Byford argued that the Waterfront East LRT needs to be built, and sought to avoid the impression that he is concentration only on the Downtown Relief Line (DRL). Many LRT projects including Sheppard East, Finch West, Waterfront East and (pause here for a chuckle) the SRT/LRT conversion need to proceed too.
When the new Low Floor LRVs arrive, capacity can be increased. This was an intriguing comment because it implies Byford is not considering a 1:1 capacity replacement with the new cars, at least on this route.
The YQNA has raised issues about signage and the difficulty of finding where transit service is during construction. On his way to the meeting, Byford travelled by TTC and made the connection from Union to the 509 bus looking as if he were a tourist for a continuous set of direction signs. He noticed that the path is not marked continuously. This is a pervasive problem including on Queen’s Quay where the location of service is impossible to discover if one is unfamiliar with the area, and difficult even for a seasoned rider. Constant changes due to shifting construction don’t help. Byford agreed that improvements are needed.
A request for a free bus to the waterfront during certain times was rejected on the basis that the money could be better spend on service. Expedited, all-door boarding and rigourous clearing of vehicles parked at transit stops can also aid service, Byford said. (As a personal observation, I boarded a 509 bus southbound at King and Yonge as if it were a streetcar to get to this meeting thanks to a large truck parked at the bus stop.)
Residents asked for a stop eastbound at York, but Byford advised that this has been rejected by city traffic engineers. Requests for transit shelters should go to Waterfront Toronto who are responsible for street furniture. (This entire exchange was odd given that earlier in the evening, Byford had talked about the culture of finger-pointing between departments and agencies.)
Some of the responsibility for improvements will lie, Byford said, with the new Group Station Manager whose territory includes Union Station. However, this won’t look after problems with the surface portion of the 509 Harbourfront route unless there is some creep in the job description. This begs the question of a surface equivalent of a GSM to look after community concerns especially when there are temporary route diversions for construction and special events.
(I will discuss the remainder of Byford’s remarks concerning his Five Year Plan in a separate article.)
Updated May 8, 2013 at 11:40 pm: Streetcar service on Queens Quay and lower Spadina will not resume until late November, contrary to previous information here and gleaned from sundry TTC rumours. The delay arises from Toronto Hydro being six months late on their work thanks to budget problems.
Demolition of the streetcar right-of-way began on May 6, 2013, east of Yo-Yo Ma Lane to the Spadina & Queens Quay intersection.
Yo-Yo Ma Lane marks the western limit of the “new” Queens Quay, an will be the point where eastbound traffic will cross over the streetcar tracks to the new roadway on the north side of the street. The tracks will be rebuilt east from Yo-Yo Ma Lane to align with the new intersection at Spadina.
Demolition of the existing Queen’s Quay Loop begins on May 7.
tentatively plans to resume streetcar service on 509 Harbourfront in September late November, but this depends on many utility relocation projects along Queen’s Quay completing to the point where the streetcar right-of-way is no longer needed as a road diversion and construction staging area.
Waterfront Toronto will hold a public meeting on May 8. From their website:
Community Update Meeting
Join Waterfront Toronto on May 8, 2013 for a detailed construction progress report. Learn more about:
- Construction activities to date and our overall construction schedule
- The types of construction to expect this spring and summer
- Traffic management and TTC service
The meeting will be held from 6pm – 8pm in the Brigantine Room at Harbourfront Centre.