St. Clair Spring 2009 Update

When I contemplated a title for this article, I felt compelled to include the year simply because this project has gone on for, it seems, forever.  The Environmental Assessment started formally in September 2003.  Detailed community consultation on the approved project began in February 2005.  By way of an attempted legal derailing and reordering of project priorities, we come now to almost the last year of construction.  I say “almost” because the 2009 project will almost certainly spill over into 2010 if past experience is any evidence.

For the benefit of readers who don’t get a chance to visit the line regularly, here is the status as seen on a field trip by your interpid reporter yesterday, March 16.

Phase 1 (Yonge Street to Vaughan Road):  This section is officially finished although it’s still rough around the edges.  The platforms don’t have their decorations, and I’m not convinced that transit priority signalling is really operating here.

Phase 2 (Vaughan Road to east of Dufferin):  This section is now under construction.  Excavation is completed west to Arlington, but the track slab is not down for the entire distance.  New intersection track was laid at Christie over the past weekend, and this work is expected to complete later this week.  West of Arligton, utilities work is underway.  Traffic is a mess, and there are many buses, usually running in packs.

Phase 3 (East of Dufferin to west of Lansdowne):  This section is largely complete, and preliminary signs of overhead installation are visible.  Although the right-of-way may be intact, no streetcars will run here until phase 2 is done late this year.  Traffic here is also a mess, and I had the dubious pleasure of being on a bus that tried, with some difficulty, to pass another, disabled bus within the two available lanes beside the right-of-way.

Phase 4 (West of Lansdowne to Gunn’s Loop):  Work has just begun on replacing water services in this stretch of St. Clair, and other utility work is to follow.  The detailed street design, presented at a recent public meeting, is available online.  As on other parts of St. Clair, the almighty left turn lane takes its toll on the street design, but this part of the street, known as St. Clair Gardens, has wide sidewalks and a narrower road than the section from Caledonia to Yonge.  Here the curb cuts take up to half of the existing sidewalks and many trees that happen to be in the wrong place.

It is distressing to see the city destroy in the name of transit progress the very street layout that was championed on College Street west of Spadina.  Indeed Council, in approving this project, included a proviso:

“that the preservation of the current sidewalk width on St. Clair Avenue West be made a key guiding principle in the detailed design work to be undertaken; and that the Commissioner of Works and Emergency Services be requested to investigate further possibilities to minimize and eliminate cuts to sidewalks and to add sidewalk space where possible.”

The detailed design shows the existing sidewalk line in outline, and also list in tabular format the curb cuts proposed for each intersection.  This design completely ignores Council’s instruction.

If all of this were in the name of good traffic management, I might, might grit my teeth and say “well, it’s for the greater good”, but that’s far from the case here.  Claude Bergeron, an active local merchant who supports the right-of-way, provided that it does not destroy the community, has proposed that left turn lanes be eliminated at two intersections:  Laughton and Silverthorn/Hounslow Heath.  These locations are in the existing commercial area as compared with locations further west, notably at Old Weston Road, where parking lots face onto St. Clair and there is lots of room for widening.

One might ask whether forcing through traffic to share a lane with left turns will be bad for congestion, but the actual volumes on the street are low.  Mr. Bergeron quotes Jim Sinikas, a senior Project Engineer for the TTC and their resident expert on traffic management:

“given that less than one vehicle typically turns left at these intersections each cycle on average, the median lanes would hardly ever be blocked because one or two left/U-turning vehicles, waiting of [sic] a gap in opposing traffic to make the turn, could wait on the right-of-way and not block traffic flow in the centre lane.”

And he continues:

“Even if left turn lanes were not available, eastbound and westbound traffic could be given a green display simultaneously, as is done on Queens Quay West … Under this signal operating strategy, traffic would operate at a very good level of service.”

The TTC has yet to explain why it supports the unneeded widening of these intersections.  Eliminating the turn lanes allows other changes to the intersection designs, stop locations and parking, but as long as the city and TTC hold firm to one plan, one standard intersection treatment, these alternatives won’t get a fair shake.

With utilities work already underway, any changes to road layouts must be decided quite soon, and it wouldn’t surprise me to watch the project simply run out the clock and claim they couldn’t make the changes within the time available.  Possibly if they had produced detailed plans for community review more than a few weeks before construction, the reception might have been less frosty and opportunity for meaningful change could have been entertained.

This does not bode well for the Transit City projects where opponents are already using the St. Clair designs, tactics and construction screw-ups as examples of why Transit City should be stopped. 

Further west, the design at Old Weston Road is quite odd with a single lane westbound.  Yesterday I watched several Keele buses making the turn south to west, and will be intrigued to see this accomplished with the new layout.  They could turn onto the right-of-way, of course, but I’m not sure that the TTC has really thought through how buses will work here running in either the curb or centre lanes.

Gunn’s Road Loop will be redesigned to give a bit more room for streetcars and some attractive plantings.  All of this won’t show up, of course, until the project is completed and plantings can be installed sometime in 2010.

Late this year, the TTC will be faced with reopening the line to streetcars to Lansdowne although there is some doubt they have enough cars to run the system as it exists, let alone with more cars on St. Clair.  The problem will only get worse once service to Keele goes in.

Vehicle availability is a serious problem on both the streetcar and bus networks, and a detailed report on the situation has not yet appeared on the TTC”s agenda.  I believe that one was planned for April, but reports have been delayed before.  We shall see.

The long delay in reopening the St. Clair streetcar line puts any memory of a “before” condition so far in the past that the communities, the riders, the supporters and the opponents, won’t have any basis of comparison.  Will the TTC actually run frequent, well-spaced service, or will we see a handful of cars in the offpeak speeding across the line only to take extended layovers at terminals, and operating on a schedule of their own invention?

I have “before” data from the vehicle monitoring system taken during the period after phase 1 completed but before the west end of the line closed down.  It may be sometime in 2010 before I get “after” data, but there will be a basis for comparison.

40 thoughts on “St. Clair Spring 2009 Update

  1. Hey Steve,

    I am sure I’m bound to be disappointed by the answer to this question, but are you aware of any plans to, er, finish the job between Yonge and Spadina? I am thinking in particular of the ghastly wooden hydro poles on the south side, which have simply had new luminaires bolted on, in addition to the shelter issues you mentioned.

    I agree that this project has been a disaster for the TTC–and at least partially for reasons not connected to the court challenge. Very, very bad PR for Transit City; I have noticed that when trying to explain TC to non-transit geeks you have them on board roughly until they figure out the similarity to St. Clair.

    Steve: Those poles need to be uprooted by Toronto Hydro, an agency notoriously difficult to schedule. This is an example of the lack of follow-through by the city — nobody seems to be responsible for bringing the streets back to the postcard beauty we are shown in the project drawings.


  2. If I remember the Council resolution, it made all kinds of other promises too – like keeping all parking and including bike lanes.

    The quoted statement about the left turns is confusing. Left and U turns will only be during the allowed phase. I think this bars traffic from waiting in the intersection for a gap. That is possible today – but not in the future.

    Even if there is one vehicle left turning per phase now – this increases in the new setup. Vehicles that would have turned left at non-signalized intersections become routed to signalized intersections. There are more overall turns too – because vehicles entering traffic (e.g. from parking, deliveries) will have to use the signalized intersection to get into the far lane of traffic via a U-turn.

    If the intermediate signalized intersections don’t have turning space – this pushes more turning traffic to the bigger intersection.

    The completed stretch seems for like a railway with a city street trying to exist on the outside – it’s out of balance. This may be the poles – but that’s the visual effect.

    Steve: I agree with you on the poles. They have a very strong, and unfriendly presence in the middle of the street rather than the sort of open space we see in other systems (whether they have grassed rights of way or not). This is lousy urban design, but then the TTC was never strong on that point.

    As for the turns, the TTC’s own traffic engineer agrees that the demand at the intersections can be handled without the left turn lanes.


  3. I had thought that with the GO Transit upgrades and Blue-22 projects that the railway bridge between Keele Street and Old Weston Road would have been scheduled for replacement. Having St. Clair with a single traffic lane in that area will be a bottleneck.

    In the meantime, they should have the 41 Keele buses use the right-of-way to bypass the resulting car traffic.

    Steve: There is a tiny problem with putting buses on the right-of-way — clearance. They have to be careful not to fall off of the right hand curb. As for the rail overpass, what can I say — of course the street should be widened, but that was never part of the St. Clair project (or the GO/Metrolinx project either).


  4. That one-lane section between Old Weston and Keele is absolutely ridiculous to say the least, and I also can’t imagine the 41 Keele buses making that turn. I’d go as far as suggest and say that the 41 should be re-routed via Weston Road and Rogers and up to Keele rather than take the “back” way via Old Weston, especially as that section now has full transit service with the 168 Symington running up to Avon Loop at all times (which I didn’t understand why was implemented if the entire route segment is paralleled by the 41 and a tiny segment of the 161).

    At least the 41 can avoid the constant congestion there is already between Keele and Old Weston.

    What a disaster – absolutely the left turns can be yanked at least at Silverthorn/Hounslow Heath – would it kill drivers to make a U-turn at the next intersection? Most major roads in Michigan require a U-turn to make a left – it’s called a Michigan Left.


  5. I have to be frank, it was a lifetime ago from my perspective when this all started. The times have changed, except on St. Clair west. St. Clair east on the other hand is quite good.
    This is going to sound counter productive for the LRT transit city lines but if the city does not get their acts together and be efficent with construction with Toronto Hydro. I think we should lay down the LRT rail and throw some buses on the ROW until Toronto Hydro can get their heads out of the sand. If we can at least get something going it will be a start.


  6. As someone who’s moving back to the area (close to the Bathurst intersection), I’m not suprised at all by this news. Hopefully TC will not follow this mishap of a construction project.

    Steve, do you know if the same LRVs will be used on the St. Clair line as the ones potentially chosen for TC? My answer would be no, but I’d rather hear it from you to be sure.

    Steve: St. Clair will get the “city” fleet, cars similar to the TC fleet, but single-ended.


  7. Even one left turning car per cycle is enough to slow things down substantially. When I drive downtown, I automatically change to the right lane while approaching intersections so that I don’t get stuck behind a left turning car … and then move back to the left lane after clearing the intersection so as to avoid parked cars. This constant switching back and forth (and I’m not the only one who does it) reduces the overall capacity of the entire road.

    I was driving on St. Clair recently and the street has been completely RUINED for pedestrians, transit, drivers, and emergency vehicles. The ROW visually divides the street in the worst possible way — it feels like you’re driving along a mini-canyon and the short left-turn lanes create sharp bends in the road which are just awkward to navigate.

    If this is how Transit City is going to be built, you’ll probably only see a single line get done … because opposition will mount. St. Clair could have been rebuilt without this ROW mess. The traffic there didn’t warrant a ROW. I can’t see how this is better than what was there before.


  8. Giambrone mentioned about the double ended trains for the LRT’s.
    Transit City map has a “connection” from Gunn’s loop to JANE LRT…does it mean eventually the 512 St. Clair will be expanded to Jane and a loop somewhere there (or possible going south to Jane station). If yes, will 512 St. Clair get the double ended Transit City trains?

    Will the Transit City LRT’s have their own set of vehicles and 501-511 routes keep their current or their own upgrade?

    Steve: There is a problem with timing in this. The Jane LRT is far from a done deal, especially as far south as St. Clair. If the network design assumes that the 512 would be operated from, say, “Eglinton West Carhouse”, then there has to be a track connection somewhere. Only the “suburban” Transit City cars will be double-ended.

    You can see where this leads — unless all of Jane is built (and not underground at least at the St. Clair crossing), there is no way to get a double-ended Transit City car onto the St. Clair trackage even if it is extended to Jane.


  9. One way in which the ROW is better than what was there before is that the streetcar now goes from Timothy Eaton to Avenue Road during morning rush hour in a minute, where it used to take about five Avenue Road lights. On the other hand, they probably could have got the same effect by putting up stanchions along the tracks to keep cars off them (and to eliminate the turn north at Forest Hill Road).

    I fear M. Briganti is otherwise right. I particularly fear that the street life on St. Clair west of bathurst is going to disappear after the sidewalks are narrowed (as will patio licence revenue).


  10. I’m resident of the St. Clair Gardens stretch of St. Clair West (Caledonia to Old Weston Road) and I have always been a staunch supporter of the St. Clair West ROW, however I’m not so happy in the way this project is being carried out by the TTC with their “one size fits all” approach.

    What this modest retail strip lacks in trendiness is made up by the charm of its exceptionally wide sidewalks and larger tree canopy, which is not the case in many parts of St. Clair West.

    This will all be lost if the TTC bulldoze through with the current construction plan they have. This is a prime opportunity for the city to display some creativity, which is so lacking in Toronto and its infrastructure. My friend, neighbour and fellow community activist, Claude Bergeron, has put in countless hours and so much hard work coming up with an alternate transit plan for this stretch of St. Clair West in what can only be described as a creative win-win solution. We can only hope the TTC will pay heed to this.


  11. re: “As for the turns, the TTC’s own traffic engineer agrees that the demand at the intersections can be handled without the left turn lanes.”

    Mr. Munro, your own website here documents a long litany of TTC miscalculations and bad planning. You are quick to challenge assertions that don’t fit with your point-of-view. However, in this case, a statement (of which we don’t even know the context) by a TTC engineer (obviously ‘infallible’) you quickly accept as gospel.

    Mr. Sinikas is the co-author of the study that recommended the TTC use coupled CLRVs on King St. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you were quick to challenge that recommendation.

    I wonder if motorists could use Mr. Sinikas’ statement in court to defend against a traffic ticket issued for blocking the streetcar ROW.

    Steve: The point I was trying to make is that the “professionals” contradict their own plans with statements that the extra lanes are not required. This is yet another case where the transit project takes the bad publicity for excessive road widenings.

    I agree that the idea of running two-car trains on King as a way to speed service is hard to believe. Run more capacity, yes, but don’t just put the existing service in trains. It’s odd that the TTC trumpeted that scheme but ignored my own proposal to run the ALRVs on King and the CLRVs on Queen. After all it makes more sense to run the larger cars on the route with the closer headway and higher demand.


  12. Speaking of bus turning problems, I noticed that the angular curb-cut at the start of Caledonia Road is going to get filled out, forcing northbound Lansdowne 47B/C buses to swing wide and conflict with Westbound through-traffic and Southbound left-turn traffic. They have to make a manouver like this already when turning south onto Lansdowne Avenue.

    The altered Gunns Loop doesn’t make sense. The track and landscaping arrangement would forever prevent buses from passing through this way. They were never really supposed to already, as evidenced by the disintegrating platform that is sinking under the weight of the buses running over it (because they can’t turn like a streetcar), but it was still possible. A substitute bus service could not realisticly share space with the 71 Runnymede bus because three 512 buses are already hanging out into the street as it is sometimes.
    I also don’t understand why, given the chunk of land available, they wouldn’t put two full-length tracks in the loop to enable stacking and to provide a temporary by-pass around a disabled car. Now that the Earlscourt Loop driveway exit has been narrowed, a car in that loop blocks any Route 47 buses from passing through, whether or not that car is short-turning or disabled. Any car dropping dead west of Oakwood Loop might have to go all the way to Gunns and back before it can get off the line. The TTC needs more locations where they can set out disabled cars rather than having to push them at low speed all the way back to the carhouse immediately. An amusing illustration of the point occurred in mid-winter when I saw a disabled hybrid bus parked out of the way in the emergency tailtrack at Gunns Loop!

    Other humorous points of interest:

    – Someone already broke one of those hideous new streetlamps at the entrance to the park at Caledonia (the mini version for the walkway).

    – Two glossy new signs touting government investment that had been recently erected at the current end of the finished ROW were completely obliterated in a wind storm. They lasted about a week or so. Clearly even God is displeased with the ROW design 😉


  13. Your comments seem to be a contradiction. In one place you refer to two buses having difficulty heading in the same direction (IE, there is not enough roadspace) and in another, you refer to curb cuts (IE, there is too much roadspace)

    Frankly, St.Clair is not wide enough to put in a proper Right of Way.

    Steve: These are two different locations. The gigantic curb cuts are at locations where there will be two through lanes plus a left turn lane for which there is almost no demand.


  14. Once the TTC gets an idea into its head it seems difficult for it to think anything else is possible! Their current mantra is “Streetcars in their own right-of-way” and this becomes the solution to any problem.

    At one of the West Don Lands / Cherry Street meetings I asked someone from TTC why it was necessary to have a ROW all the way down Cherry and, in particular, under the rail bridge. Though I doubt the number of cars going under the bridge will be high, I was told it was ‘essential”. The lack of a ROW is also the reason given for any delays on King or Queen – though your analyses show that poor route management is much more of a problem. Having a ROW will undoubtedly make transit faster and more reliable but maybe it’s not essential everywhere, including on all sections of St Clair!


  15. St. Clair West had no left lanes before the construction. When the Toronto Civic Railway built the original right-of-way, there were no left turn lanes.
    The automobile minded people forced left turn lanes where there were none before. The left turn lanes in turn forced the narrowing of sidewalks to accommodate them. While left turn lanes are helpful for the automobile crowd, how many total people does it actually help, compared to the number of pedestrians?


  16. @DavidC:

    I’d rather have streetcar ROW than not. It’s a long term investment in transit infrastructure. If the original St Clair streetcar ROW from the 1920’s had been kept intact, even tho there wasn’t much car traffic then, transit would be much better off and the city & TTC would have millions more for other such improvements elsewhere in the city.

    For the same reason I support streetcar ROW along Lakeshore Blvd in Etobicoke. May not be needed now, but Toronto is only going to get bigger and busier. Plus when the Gardiner & QEW back up, which is increasingly frequent, Lakeshore traffic of all kinds stalls around Parklawn, and this congestion is slowly extending west. Keeping streetcar service separate is relatively easy to do given the large width of Lakeshore.

    As for priorities, I agree that the Lakeshore Blvd streetcar ROW west of Parklawn’s a low priority, and there are many much more cost-effective such improvements to be made elsewhere in the city.

    Auto traffic is like weeds, it gets into every place it can.


  17. There is no way that full transit priority signalling is running on the phase 1 line. I mostly take this part of the line during the weekday rush. We stop at lights and then stop again to pickup passengers. Of course, the ride is still quicker and much more pleasant than pre-construction days. And yes, it is nice that we only stop once at Avenue Road. It’s certainly much better than sitting in a car stuck behind that condo construction site on the SW corner. Whoever approved taking away one lane for that should have their head checked.

    Of the left turns you mention in St Clair Gardens, the option of a shared left turn lane would not be a wise. Put one in or not, but don’t go halfway. I guarantee the amount of cars using an available left turn south will increase once the project is complete. Drivers going to big box central already cut down these streets to do the Junction Rd shuffle when they see traffic piling up at Old Weston Road. The traffic backup is bad at Old Weston Road, and worse at Weston/Keele already during rush hour and on Saturdays. A single lane going west of Old Weston will make it much worse.

    Steve: The intersections at St. Clair Gardens lead into small residential neighbourhoods, not to big box stores. There is nothing there to generate an increase in traffic. I agree that there are problems west of Old Weston through to Gunn’s Loop, but that’s not the area where the sidewalk cuts are an issue.

    I still think having the ROW force traffic into a single lane under that bridge is nuts. Weston and Old Weston Road are the main roads to the 400 from these parts. St Clair West is still the main East/West artery in the area. Under that bridge St Clair West is at its smallest width. Historians, please correct me if I am wrong, but IIRC the old ROW never went past Caledonia. I expect that’s why the bridge is not very wide. It’s really the only part of the project which is not wide enough for a ROW coexisting with current traffic. I expect they are going to have a similar problem on the south end of Jane.

    Steve: Originally, the crossing at Caledonia (St. Clair railway station) was at grade. The St. Clair line ended at Caledonia Loop (on the northwest corner), and the line up from Davenport came east to Prescott Loop (in the parkette just west of the railway).

    Will U-Turns be permitted at Old Weston? It is unclear to me looking at the presentation. I would hope so. Otherwise people driving west who live on the south side of St Clair Gardens would have to go down to Davenport and back to get to their homes.

    Steve: Turn south at Laughton and then back west into the neighbourhood.

    Is it just me or does the shelter name plate/roof combination makes a shelter look crooked when the shelter is on any incline? The shelters at Lansdowne and Earlscourt are particularly unnerving.

    Steve: Yes, that design, aside from looking extremely cheap, suffers badly when it’s not on level ground. I am sure we paid some consultant a lot of money for this fine work.


  18. Sorry I wasn’t clear. I know that big box stores are not in that neighbourhood south of St Clair. The Junction Rd shuffle is traffic that leaves St Clair W and goes south to Davenport and then south at Old Weston Road to Junction Rd. It’s a level track crossing that gets you to Keele & Junction Rd. North of there, the west side of Keele is all big box stores.

    Junction Rd is a well know shortcut to those who live in the neighbourhood to avoid backups at Keele/Weston Road and Old Weston Road when you are going south on Keele or to the big box stores.

    Steve: But your comment was about people coming west on St. Clair. Anyone using Junction Road is coming from the south.


  19. Why was Phase 3 started before Phase 2?

    Steve: It was partly political (when to tear up which ward) and partly the timing on utility reconstruction projects.


  20. I’m familiar with Junction Road, and I even use it the few times I drive in that part of town. Coming from the south, it’s a nice way to avoid the mess of traffic on St. Clair between Old Weston and Keele and on Keele though there – drive straight up Old Weston from Junction, and you’re at Rogers Road in no time. The opposite also holds true.

    Coming from the east, one can cut down Osler or Ford (neither will be usable with the ROW) or Laughton over to Davenport and then south to Old Weston and Junction Road, though it would be more circutious. Then head south on Keele or a quick skip over to big box world.

    Though with the West Toronto grade separation, I wonder if that will affect that shortcut during construction, though it will remain once construction is complete.

    I really believe the 41 should be re-routed so it no longer runs on St. Clair – it will be a horrible mess during construction, and it can take a very long time as it is to make the left turn to Keele or Old Weston as it is. Via Weston Road makes the most sense (leaving Old Weston to the 168), but using the Junction Road shortcut might work as well if a bus can negotiate the intersection at Keele.


  21. On some other issues:

    There are those who take this as an opportunity to slam drivers. I’d like to remind them that, if I recall my numbers correctly, only 18% of Torontoians take transit. While there are some walkers and cyclists, this is equivalent of saying 80% of people drive. I may be remembering incorrectly (the stat may be for places like scarborough, north york, and etobicoke) but it certainly shows the difference. Even on King St, you just barely get to a 50-50 ridership level when people are counted. The fact is more people drive in this city. Sure, I’d love to change the numbers to 100-0 if I could, but trying to irk the 80% who drive for the 20% who take transit is just going to make the voters angry enough to vote in a mayor from the Toronto Party (which, BTW, has discussed eliminating ALL the funding for the TTC)

    And on the issue of other transit city lines being as much a nightmare as St.Clair. Lets examine each line separately.

    St.Clair, for its entire length, has a road right of way of 30 meters. That means there is 30 meters of space for driving, parking, and streetcar operations. That’s not all that much.

    Spadina has 36m (meters) which is more (and you do not see the same width problems here) but the problem there is the frequency of intersections.

    Finch West has 36m and no intersection problems.

    The parts of Eglinton with above-ground operation have 36m, 45m, or greater than 45m of space.

    The lakeshore line has, mostly, 36m of space, and between Kipling and Park Grove, 27m of space. This is less than St.Clair. This comes from the city’s own right-of-way document, and why no one else saw this (though I pointed it out when I first read the transit city plan) is beyond me.

    Jane has 36 meters north of the 400, but only 27 south of it (with the exception of a 36 meter stretch between weston and just south of eglinton) It finally gets down to 20m south of Dundas. Clearly not enough space for a RoW unless some crafty thinking is applied.

    Don Mills, on the section that Steve and I agree should be above ground, has between 30m, 33m, and 36m of space, with no intersection problems.

    Both the Sheppard East and Malvern lines have 36m for their entirety(except for a very small portion of morningside which has 30m)

    I have some personal proposals to improve Transit City. One is a Finch East line – this route would also have 36m the whole way.

    This data comes from the Toronto Official Plan, Map 3.


  22. There have been several references to Junction Rd. being an alternative to the Keele-Weston rd. route. This will not be possible once they start excavating for the GO train grade separation at the junction (Unless they work out some sort of detour). They have already started on this project.


  23. @Nick J Boragina, regarding the width of Finch E:

    I tried to measure the width of Finch E using my own steps. From the south edge of the southern sidewalk to the north edge of the nothern sidewalk, I got about 22 m near Yonge, and 20 m near Kenneth (next minor street to the east).

    With allowance of 3 m past the sidewalk each way, we get 26 – 28 m. It looks like the said map is inaccurate for Finch E (unless I am missing something in my calculations).

    Surveying other parts of Finch E (but not measuring with steps), I saw the sections from Yonge to Trudy Rd (halfway between Leslie and Don Mills) and from Vic Park to Warden too narrow for surface LRT. Trudy Rd to Vic Park is wider. I did not look east of Warden.

    Btw, a short section of Finch W, about 300 m just west of Yonge, look narrow as well.


  24. Junction Road will never be used as a regular service routing. The freight train trackage is staying permanently level with the road. These trains block the crossing for significant lengths of time, often stopping completely for a while when running south-to-west entering the Lambton Yard.

    The only realistic solution to some of the traffic congestion problems in the area is a new Old Weston Road Bridge extending completely over the crossing. It is unlikely this will ever happen though, and there are other traffic patterns revolving around St. Clair which this cannot solve.


  25. To Nick and Rainforest — existing right-of-way widths can be obtained using the City’s online mapping tool at There’s an option to show property data, including building outlines and property lines. You can measure right-of-way widths from there. This may be more accurate (and is definitely quicker) than pacing on-site, plus the actual right-of-way boundary is not always evident in the field. Checking the property lines on Finch in the area of Yonge and Kenneth, for example, you see that the right-of-way width in that area is somewhat variable.


  26. Actually, Finch at yonge has room for 6 lanes of traffic, this is easily visible from Google maps. I also used to work in the area and can attest the maps are correct, that there is room for 6 lanes of traffic.


  27. @ Brent.
    thank you, this shows exactly what you explain. I have bookmarked it. Unfortunately, I do not know how to translate meters into lanespace (yet anyway, I do plan on going to school to study urban planning) There do appear to be some very limited areas where the road goes under 30m, however the area beside this is commercial parking lot – much easier to wrest away for the right price than 40 adjacent personal front lawns.

    Then again, there have been proposals to make the Finch-Yonge connection underground!

    I shall study all transit city routes using this mapping tool and post back here (if that’s okay with you steve) if I find anything interesting.


  28. Nick J Boragina writes, in part:

    “There are those who take this as an opportunity to slam drivers. I’d like to remind them that, if I recall my numbers correctly, only 18% of Torontoians take transit. While there are some walkers and cyclists, this is equivalent of saying 80% of people drive.”

    I’d like to see backup on this.

    Here’s someone who has looked at the Statscan data for some census tracts in Toronto:

    Just because cars have a large share of the modal split, doesn’t mean that it’s uniform everywhere. The modal split on King St. is not the modal split on the 401.

    The cycling and walking modal share is significant in downtown, and public transit has modal shares anywhere from about 20% in the outer suburbs to close to half at King/Dufferin. At Lansdowne and St. Clair transit has about a 35% modal share, eyeballing the graph,. I’m not sure how much disruption due to ROW construction affected the area in 2006.


  29. Ed said: “I’m not sure how much disruption due to ROW construction affected the area in 2006.”

    The modal split might not have changed much, but ridership may have shifted to north-south bus routes instead of the east-west 512 bus replacement during the construction. Which is good because the bus has far less capacity than the streetcar.


  30. The westbound exit from St. Clair West Station has been a real mess for sometime now. Firstly, an oddly placed pole forces Bathurst buses to make a very tight west-to-north turn, sometimes across three lanes of Bathurst. Secondly, the setup whereby Bathurst and Vaughan Rd. buses are forced to use the road in mixed traffic adds a lot of running time, as I can walk to the corner faster than a Bathurst bus can get there during rush hour. This area would benefit from a Transit-only cycle at Bathurst and St. Clair that would allow Bathurst buses to make a right turn from the ROW, and Vaughan buses to use the ROW up until there. This would free up bus bays inside the station as well, as traffic jams frequently ensue when buses are stuck behind unloading streetcars thereby blocking bathurst or vaughan buses completely. The unloading bay could be extended to take up that whole area, with Bathurst buses and Vaughan Rd. using the under-used bays currently taken by routes 33, 126 and 7B, and 512 buses once they are replaced by streetcars again.


  31. The modal split that Statistics Canada tracks from census data is only the mode of transport to work of the residents in the area. It doesn’t tell the whole story of transportation in an area:

    (1) Non work trips (even people who take transit to work will use the car, cab, and more-and-more-these days Zip-type cars to perform errands in evenings and on weekends)
    (2) Pure commercial traffic
    (3) Passenger traffic that has the area as the destination (e.g. shopping)

    Especially in regards to commercial traffic, the overall traffic profile West of St. Clair W is very different that towards Yonge. I’d have to say from an experience getting to Yonge & St. Clair for a business meeting a month or so ago, the lane layout on the completed section is narrow and tricky (due to constant swerving and poor lane markings) even in a compact car. The curb lane seems narrower than most, so traffic gets backed up even for a simple parallel park manuever.

    Any type of commercial vehicle is going to find it a challenge to make deliveries in the West section. (Many people are expecting this not to be a problem as the businesses wont be there after a bit.)

    Just curious as to how the 126 will run when all is said and done. Will it run on the ROW until Christie?


  32. Steve:

    I have been doing some research and have found ywo web sites that might interest you and your reader.

    If you go into “publications” on the HDR site they have a semi annual publication called “TransitLine”. This is a very interesting publication on contracts that they are working on. Most are rail oriented and many are streetcar or fixed rail circulator lines as they are also called. These are fixed rail in mixed traffic line 1.5 to 5 miles long with stop spacing at 5 or more stops to the mile.

    The “reconnecting site also has many interesting features about streetcars.

    There are a number of lines operating or under construction with a number in the planning stages. There is even a group called “Street Cars For Seattle”.

    Robert Wightman


  33. It is so funny that there are several problems constructing the St Clair ROW, yet the City of Toronto wants to dive in and immediately start constructing another ROW. Two words for the City of Toronto: EXTENSIVE EVALUATION! Also, an extensive evaluation and ‘tweaking’ period could help get more people on board TC in general.


  34. It should be remembered that the St. Clair ROW is just the section of the road where the current streetcar tracks are presently. The original project was just replacing those tracks with just a ROW. The rest of the roadway and sidewalks were added on after the fact, and should be considered as extras. It is the extras (left turn lanes, underground hydro, water and gas repairs, etc.) that are causing the delays. Of course, doing the repairs part would have disrupted people later on, so they are being done now so as to now dig it up again.
    It is like replacing the electrical system in your house, when you only wanted to replace the galvanized pipes. You were making the holes anyways.

    Steve: There are two major changes — the addition of dedicated turn lanes, and the widening of the safety islands. These affect intersection geometry in ways that just making a right of way of the existing tracks would not.


  35. I know this will get me some grief but one wonders whether if this was done as a P3 where there was “in service” date based on performance metrics in the contract, that it would have been delivered sooner (even assuming they had agreed to hire ATU staff as part of the operational contract). Miller is profoundly opposed to any P3 on transit projects, but it would seem that the City’s record speaks volumes… Maybe the province, holding the purse strings, should be more forceful on this issue.

    Steve: The problem here is that agencies other than the TTC screwed up their part of the work, notably hydro, although the roads department certainly took their time producing the designs. It’s worth noting that there have been considerable differences in the speed of the work in different sections — different contractors, some more competent than others, and all of them already in the private sector.


  36. With respect to the turn lanes, they were in the original TTC reports in 2 of the 3 alternatives. See “Feasibility of Reserved Streetcar Right-of-Way on St. Clair Avenue – Dec 9 2002”. Concepts 1 and 3 have left turn lanes – concept 2 does not, However, concept 2 does not allow for improvement in overall speed of the transit service.

    The report clearly states that road widening would be required W of Laughton regardless of alternative.

    Let’s avoid re-writing of history. If it weren’t for the ROW, the sidewalks would not be threatened.

    Steve: The issue at the minor intersections is that the cuts would be less severe without turn lanes whose value is considerably less that at major ones like Old Weston Road or Keele. Widening, yes, but how much is really needed.


  37. I remember reading in a paper (The Star, I think) a few weeks back when the operating budget was released that the city had hired someone’s whose job was to coordinate construction projects across city agencies. IIRC, he was from Hamilton. The man certainly has his job cut out for him.

    Steve: There was an article in the Daily Commercial News last July about this.


  38. It’s interesting that HydroQuebec is pushing the Laval trolleybus scheme – does Ontario/Toronto Hydro give any financial assistance to transit electrification projects? I’m guessing no… but then that would also involve Ontario having surplus electricity and not just fumbling forward and hoping to import the shortfall.


  39. when they finally make it west….what are the chances the ttc would extend tracks further to runnymede to bring it to the loop at dundas….for a potential hookup to dundas west?

    the jane LRT is far off … this seems somewhat doable … no?

    Steve: If there is any connection to Dundas, it will be out at Scarlett where the two streets are nearby and where the underpass and road layout changes have been updated to accommodate a streetcar link. I am not holding my breath for this to be built.

    The Jane LRT is not in the top part of the priority list and the south end of it will be very expensive due to right-of-way constraints and the likely pressure to put it underground. I will be very surprised if this line ever makes it much south of Eglinton.

    Connecting the St. Clair line to Dundas West Station doesn’t make much sense other than as an alternative service link to Roncesvalles Carhouse, but it’s a really long service link, and all it avoids is the Bathurst Street hill.


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