Christopher Hume has a column in today’s Star about the St. Clair line (Click here) where he discusses the gap between theory and practice in major urban design/construction projects.
This morning, CBC’s Metro Morning had a discussion about the impact on businesses with the owner of the Retro Cafe (at Vaughan and St. Clair) and David Crichton, the city’s manager for design and construction. With luck this may show up later today as a podcast on the CBC site here. It may have been early in the day, but Crichton continued the city’s unhappy stance of saying “it’s too bad, but we have to rebuild the street” while ignoring that the design and the construction phasing have considerable impacts.
Last Friday, I received the following comment:
I am glad you have this website because this is the first place I want to comment on what is happening with the St. Clair Line.
I live just west of Spadina. Not only has there been absolute chaos but I have had to call Joe Mhevc’s office regarding the noise of drilling and lack of crosswalk, large ditches on either side of the tracks and the incredibly horrible gridlick. It has taken me 45 minutes to get from Sr. Clair and Spadina to St. Clair and Yonge on a bus.
Mihevc’s office put me in touch with a Jim Peebles at TTC who was nice enough, when I asked about when the drilling was going to stop, to put me on to someone who could answer the question. I was assured three weeks ago that the drilling just west of Spadina and before the Subway underpass would stop shortly. It has not. In fact I noticed at the beginning of this week that it had started in earnest again.
[I believe that it’s Jim Teeple at the TTC in case anyone is trying to track him down.]
What was odd was that they were taking up concrete on the track that had already been laid down and re-drilling! Four days later, a fellow named Scott Duggan at TTC tells that the drilling will stop today. The reason for taking up the concrete? Bad concrete had been used and they had to do it over again. This sounds like nonsense and “make work” to me as I am sure the company and the workers are still being paid even though this mistake was made.
Having said all this, I have had to endure this terrible drilling sound from 7:15 in the morning to 5 p.m. at night. I have allergies from the dust and my doctor says I have developed bronchitis. I work from home a lot and you have no idea what it is like to try and speak to people over the phone with that drilling in the background.
What I would like to know is how does bad concrete get poured on a 95 million dollar project like this?? Any help you can give me in getting this drilling stop – noise pollution groups, whomever – would be greatly appreciated.
I continue to be astounded by the length of time neighbourhoods are disrupted. I’m not in a position to get the TTC to stop tearing up the street, and the real issue now is to get everything put back together on this first phase of the project. Streetcars allegedly will return to the line this winter (it was originally planned for November, but …). This is important to free up buses for service elsewhere in the network.
As for future phases of the project, it is astoundingly clear that much better co-ordination and construction planning, not to mention speed, are required. Yes, the St. Clair project is more complicated than a “normal” track relaying job the TTC does every year, but the length of time it is taking is appalling.
We also need a hard look at the details of the design from Vaughan Road west. Saying that we can’t modify the design without a full-blown EA review is an excuse for not addressing the problems. Having said that, I must press the businesses on St. Clair for a coherent position on traffic designs. One reason for the sidewalk narrowing at intersections that so annoys many was the stated requirement that traffic be able to flow freely on St. Clair. That’s a recipe for designs that put cars first and pedestrians a distant second.
The election is out of the way, and it’s time for the city to address this projects design. That means more neighbourhood meetings and who knows what level of acrimony. However, the city and the TTC need to come to the table with a will to make this project work, not to impose their plans on the neighbourboods without compromise.