Waterfront West and St. Clair LRT Projects

St. Clair Streetcars Return in Late November

The St. Clair line will resume streetcar operation on the last weekend of November 2006 when trackwork from Vaughan Road to St. Clair Station and elevator construction at that station will be completed.  We will have wonderful new track and maybe even working priority signalling (although I doubt we will actually see that for years, if ever), but the cars will still tiptoe over the rotten track at St. Clair West Station whose loop won’t be redone until next year.  So much for good construction planning.

There are rumblings that the section from Vaughan to Keele won’t be finished in 2007, but I have not tracked down anything definitive on that.  As for a possible extension beyond Keele, this is mired in redesign of the underpass at Dundas, Scarlett Road and St. Clair.

Isn’t it nice to know transit has such a high priority?

Waterfront West

Meanwhile, work is underway on the EA for the Roncesvalles to CNE portion of the waterfront line.  The TTC has the good sense to recognize that running this service into downtown via the Tonnerville Trolley operation on Queen’s Quay is a non-starter, and they are looking at branching off from Fleet Street via Fort York/Bremner Boulevards coming into Union Station in a tunnel along the north side of the Air Canada Centre.

No word yet on a redesign of Union Station Loop to handle the substantial additional loads that the eastern and western waterfront lines will bring.

All this will, of course, require funding for construction and for additional vehicles. 

11 thoughts on “Waterfront West and St. Clair LRT Projects

  1. I thought if there was any St. clair extension, it would be to Jane?

    Not withstanding the most logical thing to do would be to send the 512 to Runnymede/Dundas, extend the 505 northward, kill the 71, and give the 512 a quicker way to get to Roncesvalles, but silly me for assuming that the TTC has one single ounce of logic.

    Steve:  There is a proposal to extend the line to Kipling Station, but this means the line would have to get down to Dundas Street under the railway bridge at Scarlett Road.  That intersection is being redesigned, and any streetcar plans need to be part of that process.

    I wouldn’t put it past the TTC to delay Vaughan to Keele after 2007.  It will be a four year council elected this November, giving them even MORE time to be inept!

    Steve:  I’m still waiting for an announcement of the public participation process for design of the segment west from Vaughan Road.  There is nothing on the project’s website, and I am worried either that the work will be delayed, or that the City and TTC will try to force through their own plan in the same ham-fisted way as on the section east of Vaughan.

    Yay!

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  2. It does seem particularly inept not to have fixed ALL of the St Clair West Station loop this year as this will presumably mean that while they are doing it (in 2007) there will again be NO streetcar service on St Clair.  If it had been done in 2006 when the whole of St Clair had no streetcar service then in 2007 they could have offered streetcar service from Yonge/St Clair through to St Clair West and would only have needed bus replacements from St Clair West to Gunns Loop.

    The TTC ‘planners’ – and I use the term loosely – do not seem to think about this kind of thing and never appear to schedule work with customer service in mind.  On that note I see from the Streetcar track replacement schedule that when they finish all of St Clair it will just about be time to redo the track that links St Clair to the rest of the network (on Bathurst from Bathurst Station to St Clair. This is scheduled for 2009. 

    If one were paranoid one might think that someone in the ‘planning” section does not really like streetcars as this looks like a sure-fire way to annoy customers.  No St Clair streetcar service in 2006, limited service in 2007 and again in 2009.

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  3. I hope that the TTC plans to extend the 512 streetcar route, or provide service along all parts of St. Clair Ave west. I live near St. Clair Ave, but west of Keele and far away from Gunns Loop(where the streetcar line ends). The fact that there is no east-west service between Scarlett and Keele is a considerable inconvenience. For example, if I wanted to go from Jane to Keele, I’m forced to detour on a northbound/southbound bus that takes you to a bus/subway that goes east to Keele, then another bus that gets you back on St. Clair. Or, I’m forced to walk all the way to Runnymede and take the 71 Runnymede. At times, walking from Jane to Keele is faster than taking transit there.

    There are a few documents and reports that have looked into the possibility of the westward exntension. Now it is the ideal time for the TTC to start the Environmental Assessment for the extension of the St. Clair streetcar line. I spoke with Mitch Stambler once about it, and supposedly he said that the EA will be starting this year.

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  4. Just a response to Trevor’s comment.  That’s an excellent idea you posted there.  However, I think there’s a problem when attempting to eliminate the 71 Runnymede.  A lot of passengers use that route to get off somewhere between Runnymede station and St. Clair, during the afternoon rush hour.  If the TTC decides to eliminate the 71, the 79 Scarlett would be severely overcrowded.  The 71B would be in question as well.

    Steve, I wonder if the TTC would be committed to create tracks that far west, from Keele to Kipling.  Like you said, the redesign of the bridge on Scarlett/St. Clair/Dundas can be another challenge as well.  There are a lot of possibilities to where the streetcar line could end up, but that’s what EA’s are for!

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  5. Superficially it would appear as if the St Clair west station should have been done at the same time as the surrounding tracks.  The question in my mind is whether there are engineering problems associated with track work within the station?  Are there clearance problems for the machinery used on the surface to break up the track roadbed?  Since the roadbed is built on the roof of the tunnel, are there problems here?  In my experience I frequently find delays (and cost overruns) can be traced to uncertainties on how to do the job.

    Steve:  There have already been track repairs done within this station, and there are no structural problems doing the work.  This appears to be an internal scheduling screwup within the TTC.

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  6. If I remember correctly, the City’s planning department has finished an intensification study for the part of Dundas between Royal York Rd. overpass and the Humber River.  I don’t recall seeing any mention of planning for a streetcar extension to Kipling (via the Scarlett/St. Clair/Dundas underpass), though all parts of Dundas west of Jane to Kipling have been looked at for intensification.  Am I wrong or is the extension to Kipling merely Etobicoke councillors expressing desires?  And if it is a feasible plan, why didn’t the TTC provide input on this regarding the above plan?

    Steve:  Howard Moscoe has talked of this, and I know that TTC planners are concerned that their requirements won’t be included in the railway underpass at Lambton.   One hand doesn’t know what the other is doing in a lot of these things.

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  7. The references I have seen about the traffic light timing planned for St. Clair have talked about ‘extended green’ triggered by approaching streetcars.  The answer may be ‘wait and see’, but this sounds a lot like the operation of the traffic signals on Spadina, but not Queens Quay.  The Queens Quay type of cycle would kill the Spadina operation if they tried it there.

    I have often wondered why the transit signal is not synchronized with the main signal when it is not allowing left turns.  The objective would be to maximize the probability of a transit green as a streetcar approaches, and minimize vehicle interference.  The cycle would be:

    Signals red (Cleared for cross traffic, Cycle trigered by walk signal or presence of a vehicle. Continued detection of vehicles on the cross street would normally extend the light, but approach of a streetcar will cause any such detection to be ignored and the signal to clear as soon as possible).
    Transit signal green, others red (applicable only if streetcar present or approaching). Allows a streetcar to proceed ahead of left turns.
    Transit signal red, left turn signal green (Applicable only if left turn lane occupied).
    Transit signal and regular signal green, turn signal red.
    Extended green (Applicable if streetcar approaching).

    Steve:  A few observations here.  I generally agree with the idea that the streetcar phase should take precedence over the left turn phase, but there is some debate on the appropriate way to do this.  In the scheme which you propose, the insertion of the left turn phase between the streetcar phase and the through green phase means that the transit signal is clear, then red then clear again. 

    Another variation is to put the left turn at the end of the cycle so that it follows the through green.  The problem with this is that you need a brief red cycle to clear the intersection before allowing left turns to proceed.

    Personally, I prefer to totally pre-empt the left turn phase if a streetcar is present.  This is tricky on a route like Spadina with very frequent service because there is a good chance that there will always be a streetcar present in one direction or the other, and therefore never a left turn phase.  This would require an override so that a left turn was inserted every “n” cycles whether the streetcar was there or not.

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  8. The streetcars may return to St. Clair in late November, but all may not be well. There appears to be a little matter of repaving of the roadway. In most cases this means the cars travel on the streetcar tracks.

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  9. About a possible extension on St. Clair, I have noticed that St. Clair is a lane narrower in each direction west of Keele.  Does the TTC plan to take a way parking, or run that part of the line in mixed traffic?  This applies not only to any planned westward extension, but to the existing track between Keele and the Gunn’s Rd. Loop.

    Steve:  Actually the narrower part starts west of the CN overpass at Caledonia, and the street is even narrower as you say at Keele and beyond.  There has been no design work done yet on the section west of Gunn’s Loop.  Council has approved funding for the Environmental Assessment, but it has not been launched yet.

    I am still waiting to see the detailed design for the west end of the current project.

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  10. I have just noted something strange between Keele and Vaughan on St. Clair.  The entire length of westbound (but not eastbound) overhead wire appears to have been recently replaced with new wire.  This appears odd since east of Vaughan, removal of the overhead was the first step in preparation for construction.

    Steve:  Very odd indeed especially since with the change in overhead suspension from side to centre poles, it would be almost impossible to leave the existing wire in place during construction.

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  11. I am baffled that the city has not pre-emptively frozen re-development on St. Clair west of the Gunn Loop, particularly the section west of Runnymede. Why, for example, did they not set the new Wal-Mart father to the south? Joe Mihevc said that the western extension is subject to a new EA, but since these seem to take years, it would seem prudent to protect a future ROW.

    John MacMillan

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