With the reconstruction of the Dundas route, we will get several chances to see the TTC’s new method of installing intersections this summer.
The special work is pre-coated with rubber and assembled into panels before it arrives at the worksite. The rubber provides mechanical isolation of the track from the roadbed just as the sleeves now used for tangent rails do, reducing vibration and increasing the lifespan of the entire installation. Pre-assembly of track panels simplifies work at the site because each individual piece of track does not have to be fitted into position and welded one at a time.
Tentative dates for intersections (as shown on the TTC’s construction site) are:
- Victoria Day weekend: Bay & Dundas
- Canada Day weekend: Ossington & Dundas
- Simcoe Day weekend: Church & Dundas
- McCaul & Dundas is not explicitly scheduled, but trackwork in the surrounding area is planned for late May
The TTC is quite proud of advancements they’ve made in track construction quality and speed, and Dundas Street is certainly a chance to show their progress.
I noticed that the crews are digging a pretty deep pit to lay the tracks in. Why do they have to dig so deep?
Is it because of the weight of the CLRVs?
Steve: No. The excavation is deep, as it has been on other lines, because the entire foundation of the track and road is being replaced. It is also possible that in some locations they have found poor soil conditions under the old track and have to go down far enough to lay a stable base on which to pour the foundation slab. Then the track structure goes on top of that.
Underground streams add to the fun at certain spots where, in effect, the tracks have been holding up the road.
Steve: when you say “track panel”, do you mean the entire intersection as one panel or are they smaller parts? It’s hard to imagine watching them transport an entire grand union.
Steve: Smaller sections. For example, a switch including its mate and the crossing diamond.
James Bow has noted today on Transit Toronto :
Seriously. How much worse can they let things deteriorate? It’s sounding so much like the ’70’s in a lot of U.S. cities.
Steve: If you look at all of the posts on Transit Toronto, you will see that the original problem is in the Bay Street Tunnel. It appears that the TTC is taking advantage of the situation to shut down service on Spadina as well.
The previously described location in media reports of “Rees Street” is not exactly on the bridge nor in the tunnel.
More stellar communications from the TTC.
I guess my real point, albeit one mentioned before, is that never in my living memory can I recall when tracks got SO bad that service had to be suspended.
Now, that could be a blind spot with me, however, harking back to the American Experience I mentioned above, I recall reading many times about service disruptions, including in their subway systems where rails would split, work crews were dispatched, and people were trapped on board before the repair could be expedited. Articles about such travesties of service appeared in Toronto dailies in the ’70’s, usually in context of praising how great the TTC is and how this never happens here.
Is the situation then a case of resting on one’s laurels, exacerbated by murderous provincial cutbacks, or is it par for the course that a big system is bound to have problems, or is it a mixture of both?
Steve: There was a period just after David Gunn’s arrival at the TTC when he came very close to shutting down the Yonge subway north of Eglinton because the track was in such bad shape. It is amazing to see this problem in the Harbourfront tunnel, and I am hoping to learn more about this problem soon.
When the College/McCaul intersection was replaced, the pre-assembled track panels (switches, crossings) were mostly on wooden ties while the rest of the track was on steel ties.
Perhaps you could correct me if I am wrong, but I thought wooden ties decreased the life of the track work.
Steve: I believe that the wooden ties were treated with creosote, the standard method for preserving the life of wooden ties. Much of the really bad track from the late 70s and all of the 80s was laid on untreated ties that, naturally, rotted out inside the concrete leading to collapse of the roadway. The last of that will be replaced in the next few years.
The TTC hopes to move away from wood ties eventually, but they do have the advantage of not having to be adjusted for the specific track geometry of each intersection. Steel ties are already standard for all tangent track.
I have seen some steel ties built with movable track mounting bolts, and this is what we will likely see in the future. Next weekend, we can all go to Bay and Dundas and check for ourselves!
The tracks in the Harbourfront tunnel have been recently replaced, haven’t they? Even with the increased pounding from the 511 Bathurst cars, the track should hold up a lot better than this.
The TTC is probably shaking their head, wondering why they decided to bring back streetcars with all these problems caused by them recently. (Even though it is partially their fault for not replacing the tracks properly and soon enough).
Steve: It turns out that the problem is not in the tunnel, but at Rees Street as previously reported. There is a problem with the track foundation.