For those who are purists about their transit advocacy, listing all of the planned track replacements may seem just the sort of thing a railfan might do. If that’s your attitude, you’re in the wrong article, probably the wrong site.
The streetcar track repairs planned for the next five years mark an important milestone in Toronto’s streetcar network. For two decades after the TTC decided to keep streetcars in operation, they continued to build poor track, and the quality of construction actually deteriorated as time went on. Some bright spark thought that unwelded rail, sitting on untreated wood ties, all poured in a slab of concrete, was a wonderfully modern way to built track. It wasn’t, and we saw streets fall apart quickly, in some cases within a decade of construction.
Things changed in the early 1990s, and over the years the TTC has moved to use continuously welded rail (a practice abandoned in the late 1960s), steel ties and rubber insulation to keep the track from vibrating the roadbed like a gigantic sounding board. At intersections, the change started later, but recent installations such as Church at Queen and at Adelaide are built to the same standards as the regular tangent track. This is track built to last.
The photo above shows Church and Adelaide. Visible here are:
- steel ties where they can be used, otherwise treated wooden ties
- welded rail
- rubber matting around the rails, and rubber moulded around the special work
- the machine used to move pre-assembled track panels into location
Within five years, presuming the gods of budget cutting don’t intervene, all of the track used by main routes in Toronto will have been rebuilt. Intersections will take longer because there are so many, and the TTC settled on its current standard of construction for them only recently.
This list may be amended to stretch out spending and relieve pressure on the City’s capital budget. However, even with some delays, this will see the streetcar track network back in first class condition over the coming decade.
- The Church Street reconstruction north of Dundas, originally expected to occur in 2010, has been moved forward to 2009 because good progress has been made on the section from Dundas south to King.
- The major project for 2010 will be the west end of the King route. Track will be reinstalled in the reconfigured Roncesvalles Avenue, and King will be rebuilt from Queen east to Close. This will include the intersections of Roncesvalles with Howard Park and with Dundas.
- There is a project to reconfigure The Queensway so that the streetcar right-of-way continues east to Roncesvalles, but this does not appear to include track construction, only lane restrictions. The intersection at Roncesvalles will be rearranged by eliminating the eastbound bypass lane from The Queensway to King and replacing it with a dedicated left turn lane for autos. The eastbound stop will be moved farside (I am not making this up) allowing convenient access to the restaurant “Easy” directly from the Queen car. It is unclear where eastbound 508 Lake Shore cars will stop.
- Parliament Street from Gerrard to King will be rebuilt. Although this is not a streetcar route, per se, the track sees much use from diversions and short turns, and the road is in bad shape. Slow orders here are common. The intersections of Parliament with Queen and with King will be replaced.
- Queen Street will be rebuilt from Connaught to Coxwell including the intersection at Connaught, the eastern access from Russell Carhouse onto Connaught, and the northern accesses onto Queen.
- A project to rebuild track on Kingston Road from Queen to Bingham, including Bingham Loop, is planned to begin in 2011 and complete in 2012.
- Track over the Gerrard Street Bridge will be replaced. Some of this track was part of an early experiment in mechanically isolating track from the roadbed (1991). This was not entirely successful because, in part, the TTC was still using non-welded rails.
- McCaul Street from Queen to College including the loop is scheduled, but I doubt they will actually go more than a short distance past McCaul Loop as this track is rarely used and in reasonable condition.
- Shaw Street from Queen to King.
- Dufferin Street from Queen to and including Dufferin Loop, but not the intersection at King.
- Loops at Long Branch and Wolseley.
- King and Bathurst intersection (one of Toronto’s 3 grand unions).
- Various yard tracks at Roncesvalles Carhouse (two year program continuing in 2012)
- Kingston Road reconstruction continues.
- Roncesvalles Carhouse yard tracks
- Harbourfront tunnel
- Queen’s Quay from Spadina to the portal at Bay Street including Queen’s Quay Loop (this is part of the Queen’s Quay revitalization project).
- Spadina from Sussex to the portal at Spadina Station, around Spadina Circle and from King to Queen’s Quay.
- Spadina intersections at:
- King, Adelaide, Queen, Dundas (including Toronto’s other 2 grand unions)
- Ossington from Dundas to College. (I have my doubts about the need for this project and it may be in the list simply by virtue of the timing of the last reconstruction, 1992.)
- Richmond from Yonge to York
- York from King to Queen including intersections at Adelaide, Richmond and Queen
- Adelaide from Charlotte to Bay, and from Yonge to Church. Given the work done as part of the Church and Adelaide intersection recently, I suspect this will actually stop at Victoria. This will re-establish Adelaide Street as a bypass for eastbound diversions of King and Queen cars after a very long absence due to construction and general deterioration of the track.
The work planned for Spadina below King and on Queen’s Quay will get rid of the “thunder track” installed here for the Harbourfront route’s opening in 1990. Its noise has been a source of much ill-will to LRT plans in the central waterfront, and, more recently, many slow orders thanks to the disintegration of the track and roadbed.
- Wellington Street from Church to York
- Victoria Street from Dundas to Adelaide
- Intersections at
- Queen and Victoria
- Bathurst and Dundas
- Queen’s Quay and Spadina (it is unclear why this is not part of the 2012 program to reconstruct the Harbourfront route)
- Charlotte and Adelaide
- Charlotte and King
The work on Wellington will remove the last of the “wrong way” track on streets that became one-way six decades earlier.
- Kipling Loop
- Intersections at
- Spadina and College
- Dundas and Parliament
- Dundas and Victoria
- Dundas Square and Victoria