Waterfront East Surfaces At Last (Update 1)

Update 1, March 5:

The presentation materials from the CLC meeting on March 2 (discussed below) are now available online.  (Warning: 7.5MB file)

On March 2, I attended what is likely the final meeting of the Community Liaison Committee (CLC) for the Waterfront East LRT project.  Further discussion of this subject will now be consolidated with the Queen’s Quay redesign project.

The primary outstanding issue from our discussions going back a few years was the location and number of portals from the Bay Street tunnel to the eastern branch of the Harbourfront route.  Options involving a swing west into Harbour Street, down York Street or down Yonge Street were rejected in an earlier round as being impractical for various reasons involving available space and gradients needed to reach the surface within available city blocks.

Five options were studied in detail, of which one will be the recommended option going forward.  These options were:

  • Bay Street between Lake Shore and Harbour.  Under this option, the existing west portal and Queen’s Quay Station would be abandoned, and a new common surface stop would be created on Bay north of Queen’s Quay.  This option is physically constructible, but poses serious operational problems due to congestion of pedestrians, road and LRT traffic at the Bay & Queen’s Quay intersection.
  • Bay Street between Queen’s Quay and Harbour.  This option will not fit, physically, in the space available.  There is not enough room for tracks to rise to the surface to a “landing” before the special work for a surface intersection with Queen’s Quay.
  • Queen’s Quay between Bay and Yonge Streets.  In this option the portal would lie east of Bay and the stop would be just east of Yonge.  This scheme poses many problems because the road is constrained on both sides by existing buildings.  Access to these buildings, as well as the continuity of pedestrian and cycling areas planned for the street would be difficult or impossible.  This scheme is not viable.
  • Queen’s Quay between Yonge and Freeland Streets.  In this option, the line runs in tunnel to Yonge and then rises to street level just west of Freeland.  The station would be just east of Freeland.  This area has enough room to allow the Queen’s Quay design to be continued through the portal area, and has no adverse traffic impacts.  The Toronto Star building north of the proposed portal has no ground level retail that would be injured by the portal’s presence, and any new building on the south side can be designed for its environment.  This is the recommended option.
  • Queen’s Quay between Freeland and Cooper Streets.  In this option, the line would run in tunnel including an underground station at Yonge, and would rise in a portal in front of the Queen’s Quay LCBO.  The first surface stop would be near Jarvis Street.  This option was rejected primarily because of cost.

Initially, the line will be ended in a temporary loop near Parliament Street at a location to be determined.  A separate study is reviewing the redesign of the Don Mouth area including connection of the Cherry Street LRT through to hook up with the Queen’s Quay East line.

Construction of the new tunnel east from Bay will include modification of the existing structure under the intersection at Queen’s Quay so that a full “T” junction including a through east-west track can be installed.  This would allow a direct service linking the western and eastern waterfronts and on through to the Distillery District or the Port Lands.

The TTC also discussed the expansion of Union Station Loop, but their design has not changed noticeably for over a year.  Some fine tuning is required to bring their scheme into alignment with the proposed Union Station redevelopment plan and its new retail and GO concourses.

The first meeting of the consolidated LRT and Queen’s Quay Design CLCs will occur on March 11, and I expect to have more details on the overall scheme for the line in the larger context of the Queen’s Quay redesign project.

There will be a public drop in centre for these projects on Saturday March 28.  The final version of the Environmental Assessment for the Queen’s Quay East line will go to the TTC in May and to Council in July.  Assuming funding, the line would likely begin operating roughly in 2013.

I will post links to relevant documents as they appear online, as well as details of the drop in centre on March 28.