West Don Lands LRT Update

The final report for the West Don Lands LRT (the Cherry Street Car) came to the TTC meeting yesterday.  Thanks to the TTC’s embrace of PDFs for their reports, this is available on the web in full, living colour!

Much of the detail has been discussed here in other posts, but this provides a good overview as well as a statement of the “final” version of the EA.  From here, the report goes to Council for approval in January after which there will be a 30-day period for public comments.

Detailed design (together with that of the surrounding new neighbourhood) will continue through 2008/09 with construction in 2009/10.  Operation is planned to start late in 2010.

This isn’t the biggest extension to the system ever, but it marks an important change in the way transit is integrated with the neighbourhood as you can see from sample views of the line in the report.  This is also the first step in a network of lines to serve the eastern waterfront including Queen’s Quay, itself the subject of a major redesign project now in the planning stage.

Members of the Commission were tripping over each other with enthusiasm for this project and hoping to see work of comparable quality when the Transit City design teams come to their neighbourhoods.

For those who are unfamiliar with plans for the waterfront, the Central Waterfront Transit Plan includes a network of new streetcar/LRT lines that will be built in conjunction with new residential developments eastward from the Don River.  Whether we will see the whole network depends on continued commitment to transit and on the continuing boom in downtown residential construction.

This project has set a new, high standard for community participation in transit project planning.  Public participation can seem tedious, especially to professional staff who just want to get on with the job.  However, the collegial manner in which the West Don project evolved has shown the benefit of involving the community in the design work rather than imposing a finished product.  This will continue through the detailed design over the coming year.

8 thoughts on “West Don Lands LRT Update

  1. This looks like a great start toward rebuilding higher-order service in the Don Lands. Very nicely done all round.

    Is the game plan at this point to run the King tram down Cherry and back again, or would there be a new, separate Cherry tram come 2010? Also, how would this new line ultimately connect to Broadview or to Union?

    Steve: At this point it is uncertain what the Cherry Street car would hook up with, but initially I expect it will be a shuttle between Cherry Street Loop and somewhere on King like Spadina or maybe a bit further west. Given that there are studies underway now about reorganizing the Queen and King routes, it’s hard to say what the surrounding route structure will be in three years.

    The intersection at Sumach and King will be a full “Y” junction as shown on the detailed route drawing in the TTC report. Cars will be able to turn down Sumach from either direction allowing a Broadview Station to Cherry Street route. The connection to Union requires the constuction of the East Bayfront LRT (Queen’s Quay east from Bay to the Don River, and the reconfiguration of the Cherry, Lake Shore, Queen’s Quay junction. This work is underway as part of the redesign of the mouth of the Don area. Once that is done, the Cherry line would extend down to Queen’s Quay, east to Bay and up into Union Station Loop.

    The East Bayfront study has not progressed as far as the West Don Lands one because there is a related study of Queen’s Quay west from Bay and the proposed redesign to convert the existing eastbound road lanes to bike path and pedestrian area. This was done last summer on a temporary basis as a trial, but doing it all the way across Queen’s Quay as well as building the new east LRT line is a bigger task. I don’t expect to see an East Bayfront line opening in late 2010 like the Cherry route, and an interim route configuration is needed while Cherry is a stub line.


  2. They certainly use an interesting method to accommodate on-street parking. In exhibit 7, we see bikes and traffic have to make a zig-zag just to get around a few parking spots. Seems dangerous, especially for cyclists.

    Steve: I agree, and think that this is something that needs to be tweaked in the detailed design. If the parking areas were indented into the sidewalk, the “wow” in the through bike and car lanes would be less extreme. This, however, either takes space from the sidewalk or widens the total right-of-way. One of those trade-offs that needs attention.


  3. It seems to me that this project suffers from piecemeal planning. Despite being planned at the same time as the Waterfront East LRT, there are two separate EAs, and phase 1 does not plan building the two lines at the same time. It instead envisions a “permanent” loop at Mill Street on the Cherry Street LRT, and a southern extension “at a later date”. No successful transit line is exactly three blocks long; as a result, it is probable that the shuttles from King to Cherry will be infrequent to avoid disrupting the main King service. A longer transit line would provide a much more useful service and would run frequently; I would like to see Queen’s Quay East-Cherry-Parliament from Union to Castle Frank station (Union-Broadview in phase 1). Furthermore, this loop takes up valuable space that could instead be redeveloped if the two lines were built together.

    Also, is the elevated structure connecting Richmond/Adelaide to Eastern Avenue going to be demolished? It is an eyesore which would detract from any redevelopment in the neighbourhood.

    Steve: The two studies were originally to be a single effort, but they were broken apart at the request of the Ministry of the Environment for reasons passing understanding. The study teams and the memberships of the Community Liaison Committees were almost identical, often meeting days apart for each project.

    In fact, the East Bayfront project is far more complex involving questions of the redesign of lower Bay Street and the intersection at Queen’s Quay. This has proven to be very contentious, and it now also includes the impact of the West 8 redesign of Queen’s Quay West. At least we will get the Cherry car built.

    The property to be used for the loop is immediately north of Cherry Street Tower, right by the railway, and is unlikely to have a major development on it.

    As for the Richmond-Adelaide ramps, they are not going anywhere and will be with us for a long time as part of the DVP access. An eyesore, yes, but they’re part of the landscape for planning purposes at least in the short to medium term.


  4. It’s great to see a design for Cherry Street which was based to lots of community consultation and it certainly shows that consultation CAN work to improve the initial plans. Let’s hope the TTC and the City will try to emulate this process in Transit City.

    I remain disappointed that the Cherry Street streetcar line was not taken under the rail line now and the loop then constructed on the south side of the berm. The “permanent loop” now planned will occupy prime land north of the tracks while the land south of them is far less desirable; it’s under the Gardiner. The line will eventually go a bit further south so why not get it further in Phase 1? (Bringing it any further south and linking it to the line on Queen’s Quay must obviously wait.)

    You say, Steve, that you expect that the East Bayfront line will not open by late 2010. I’m sure you are right but, under one of the terms by which the City transfered the East BayFront land from TEDCO to Waterfront Toronto, “an operational LRT from Union Station to Parliament Street, along Queen’s Quay East by December 31, 2011”.

    Steve: There isn’t physically any place for the line to go that meaningfully assists development south of the railway viaduct. Also, this entire area is to be reconfigured substantially, and any loop placed here would inevitably be temporary.

    As for TEDCO and Waterfront Toronto, I think that the Waterfront folks could easily point to the City, especially its Transportation Department and the debates about configurations for Queen’s Quay, as a source of delay. That agreement won’t force anything to be built until the many design issues are sorted out.


  5. Everything looks quite well organized in there and I’m pleased to see the TTC taking a different direction in terms of the placement of the ROW on the east side of the street and not the middle. My primary concern here is that there is the opportunity to make the road safer for cyclists by placing the on-street parking on the outside of the bike lane, rather than directly at the curb. Studies have consistently shown, and common-sense seems to dictate as well, that having a wall of stationary cars between you and the traffic will result in less accidents. Not to mention that with the current arrangement, cars will continue to violate the bike lanes when entering a turn lane, parking, or simply moving around another vehicle.

    Steve, do you know if this is being discussed by the committee? There isn’t any mention of it in the report and I would be surprised if no one has thought of this.

    Steve: I don’t remember us ever discussing this type of option. Given the vagaries of how people park, I’m not sure you would maintain a consistent lane width with the arrangement you propose, and there would always be conflicts between deliveries and dropoff activity and the cycling lane. Personally, as a pedestrian, if I am getting into a car, I prefer to do so at the curb.


  6. If anything, perhaps it would force people to park better. Regardless of that fact, there are numerous successful examples of this style of bike lane separation all around the world — Montreal is the closest example. The fact remains that it is the cheapest and most space-saving means to physically separating a bike lane from traffic. I suppose one would have to question whether a personal desire to enter a parked car from a curb is more important than preventing a life-threatening injury.


  7. Was the streetcar turnaround area at Union built large enough to accommodate the increased number of streetcars? For that matter, does Broadview have room for them?

    Steve: Union Station needs a major rework, and I discussed the current proposal here in April 2007. I am not yet fully convinced that all of the service planned for this loop will actually fit.

    As for Broadview, the problem will be with the new longer streetcars. Today, three CLRVs on the platform is a tight fit, and when an ALRV comes in on King, things can get interesting. The new cars will be even longer than the ALRVs, and only one will fit on the platform at once. No more gigantic terminal layovers!


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