At its meeting on November 17, the TTC will consider a report on the Eglinton LRT Transit Project Assessment. A few items have caught my eye already:
- Another round of public meetings starting from November 23 to December 10 will present the final version of the design.
- The scheme for handling left turns has been modified from that shown in the original plan.
- Construction is proposed for three stages, but service will not reach the airport until 2020. The section west from Eglinton West Station to Commerce Blvd. would open in 2016, the east section to Kennedy in 2018, and the airport link in 2020. Promoters of the Pan Am Games might have questions about that timetable.
- The Silver Dart alignment to the airport remains the preferred option, and the line will not serve the hotel strip on Dixon Road.
- The station formerly located at Brentcliffe is now at Laird.
Revised November 13, 10:15 am:
The process for handling Commission approval of the Transit Project Assessment is rather odd because only the Executive Summary is available at this time. Full details of the proposal have not been provided, and yet the Commission is being asked to sign off on the TPA.
This begs the question of how the TTC can “approve” an assessment when the document is not before them and may not yet exist in final form.
As shown at earlier public meetings, the TTC has retained the Silver Dart alignment into the airport lands. This option, as opposed to a route crossing highway 401 further east and serving the Dixon Road hotel strip, is favoured because of connections with the Mississauga/GO BRT scheme and because it has the simplest 401 crossing. This decision appears also to be driven by seeing the airport, as opposed to the businesses around it, as a regional node.
However, the actual connection to the airport is the last of three stages in the project with direct service linking Eglinton West Station to the airport delayed until 2020.
A related study, still underway by Metrolinx and the Airport Authority, must deal with the function of an LRT line within the airport — where it will connect, whether it will serve multiple points or only a single terminal, how it will relate to the Union-Pearson rail service and whether it will link to or replace the inter-terminal shuttle.
Don Mills / Eglinton Station
The proposed design places the Eglinton line in an underground station with a surface stop for the future Don Mills LRT, and an offstreet 7-bay bus terminal to the northeast of the intersection. The Executive Summary does not include a detailed plan of the station and, therefore, it is impossible to say how an underground Don Mills LRT or Downtown Relief Line station might be built here as an alternative.
All transfer moves from the Don Mills LRT to the Eglinton line are assumed to occur on the surface at the northeast corner of the intersection. Here, passengers would walk between the main station entrance and the Don Mills LRT platform in the middle of the street. One cannot help asking why this platform has not been designed to be underground as part of the LRT station, or at least with enough width on the surface to include an entrance building. Don Mills is quite wide at this location and there is ample room for a large surface LRT platform.
This intersection is also ripe for development both above the proposed bus terminal and on other nearby lands. As a future major interchange, the station should be designed to serve future development.
Stations and Left Turns
Surface stations will have the now-familiar farside stop configuration, but platforms will be designed for three-car trains. With the only platform access at the rear of each platform, pedestrian congestion at major stops may interfere with operations. It is unclear whether extra-wide platforms have been provided to deal with this.
The “standard” layout includes left turn lanes in both directions, although an alternative scheme is proposed for major junctions where turning traffic will be shifted beyond intersections to a separate U-turn. This raises the question of an alternative nearside arrangement for the platforms at such locations, but this is not discussed in the report.
Moreover, there is no discussion of traffic signal timings and priority systems. It could be possible that one station could have three associated sets of traffic signals — one at the station/intersection itself, and one of each approach for the U-turning movements across the tracks. This is a recipe for severe interference with LRT operations.
The design still appears to be only a sketch, not a detailed plan, and is a poorly thought-out response to criticism of the original scheme with U/left turns via the north-south streets. I have no doubt this will raise additional questions at the coming public meetings, and it is unclear how feedback from that process will get into the final design. Moreover, the issue of large vehicles making U-turns across the LRT right-of-way has not been addressed.
The fundamental issue is that at major intersections, there will be left turning traffic. The problem is how it should cross the LRT line. The U/right scheme proposed now appears even worse than the “standard” configuration. The report states that most intersections “operate over their overall respective capacities” during the peak periods, and this implies a considerable amount of turning traffic that must be handled.
The underground sections will be built with twin 6m diameter bored tunnels. These are large enough to accommodate any conceivable Light Rail Vehicle as well as future conversion to full subway operation.
For underground stations, the proposed plans show two-car trains, but the platforms have a “reserved” area allowing for extension to three-car sets (or four-car subway trains). The box structure of the typical station is designed to fit under the standard road allowance found on the central part of Eglinton where the line will be underground. The illustration shows fairly deep stations, although this will likely vary at points along the line given the surface topology and the presence of utilities under the street. No fare collection equipment is shown for the stations as all Transit City lines will use the Presto smart card system.
The station designs do not indicate how provision will be made for conversion from low to high platform operation if there were a mode change.
No preliminary designs are shown for the connections to the existing Spadina and Yonge subway stations, nor for potential future links with rail corridors and GO services.
W. K. Lis says:
November 14, 2009 at 1:42 pm
“Another problem not mentioned using concrete on the ROW is weed control. Do we control the weeds on our current ROW’s? I see no weed control on sidewalks either, for that matter. As the weeds grow, their root systems expand in the concrete cracks, making the cracks wider. Finally, the roots will break the concrete apart. That means an earlier reconstruction. And a higher cost.”
Steve: “The TTC stopped spraying on its rights-of-way because of issues with the City’s pesticide ban. They are supposed to be coming up with some sort of alternative, but I don’t know what it is, of if it exists yet.”
I believe that the feds out lawed herbicide spraying on railway rights of way a number of years ago. The raiways used to spray 2_4-D, 2-4-5-T and atrrizine (sp?) (Does anyone remember Agent Orange?) along their lines to stop the growth of weeds, grasses and trees from corrupting their ballast. This was outlaed quite a few years ago. They also used to spray gas along the embankments and set it on fire to burn off stubborn growth.
CP tried using slag from steel mills for ballast as it is highly toxic but I don’t know how this worked out. They also tried using old steam generators to spray hot water on the weeds to kill them but the roots survived. It is a problem for any ballasted right of way.
Re: Fire Department objections – if consideration of the FD was paramount, would TTC have got away with centre poles on St. Clair? The late intervention of the Fire Chief in the ROW there gave the impression that the interface between FD, Roads and TTC needs work.
One point in favour of soil covered ROWs, whether with natural grasses or artificial turf, is that it would likely lessen the impact of summer heat on the rails. Essentially the city could use grey water from some source to irrigate the ROW during the night which would then be evaporated.
As for the buried ties – if these were concrete they would likely be more resistant. Even allowing for that, the carbon impact of a fully concreted ROW is substantial and this should be considered in parallel to the dollar cost. An alternative would be to use composite ties made from recycled plastic.
Mark Dowling says:
November 15, 2009 at 10:07 am
“Re: Fire Department objections – if consideration of the FD was paramount, would TTC have got away with centre poles on St. Clair? The late intervention of the Fire Chief in the ROW there gave the impression that the interface between FD, Roads and TTC needs work.
“One point in favour of soil covered ROWs, whether with natural grasses or artificial turf, is that it would likely lessen the impact of summer heat on the rails. Essentially the city could use grey water from some source to irrigate the ROW during the night which would then be evaporated.
“As for the buried ties – if these were concrete they would likely be more resistant. Even allowing for that, the carbon impact of a fully concreted ROW is substantial and this should be considered in parallel to the dollar cost. An alternative would be to use composite ties made from recycled plastic.”
In 2000 Atlanta released a study that showed the average summer time temperature would be reduced by 6 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit if all the asphalt were replaced by concrete or something of a lighter colour. This included roads, parking lot and flat roofed buildings. The concrete is better than the asphalt but I would still prefer a grassed right of way. I am sure that there is a type of concrete or steel grate type structure through which grass could grow but which would still provide adequate support for wheeled vehicles. We could have a new type of works equipment that could cut the grass in the summer and plough off the snow in the winter.
Steve: “Restructuring Eglinton to run the LRT along the south side is emminently sensible, although a bit tricky at the railway east of Leslie where you would have to build a new LRT underpass.”
I don’t understand this statement at all. I am all in favour of the stretch from Brentcliffe to Don Mills Road being located on the south side rather than the centre of the roadway as this bypasses the intersection at Leslie which tends to have a lot of cars turning left. However, I expected it to be on the current roadway, but on the south lanes, not the centre ones.
Moving the RoW off the current road would require building up the land under it almost the whole way (although they might be able to use the dirt from the tunnels for that purpose).
If they can fit the westbound lanes, LRT RoW, eastbound lanes combination in the space under the underpass, why would there be a problem fitting in a westbound lanes, eastbound lanes, LRT RoW version?
Actually, it seems to me that if they built a pedestrian underpass (much cheaper, I expect, than an LRT one), and ran the LRT as close to the underpass wall as possible, this would allow room for a platform between the LRT and the traffic, so that a future stop could be created here if GO decided to use this line. Such a stop would be far easier to build and much safer than creating one in the middle of the street.
When I broached the subject at previous presentations, it was the Celestica exit/entrance that was given as the major stumbling block.
Steve: My comment about an extra underpass comes from a suspicion that the moment the line is shifted south this will morph into a desire to get more space. This also relates to a desired link with the CP line above for a future GO connection.
For the benefit of those who don’t know the underpass, it is a clear span with no centre pillar, and rearranging the lanes can be done easily. The problem comes if extra space is desired for a vertical connection and platforms, not just lane shuffles.
As for the Celestica access ramp, the TTC needs to figure out a way to deal with this. It’s not exactly the busiest ramp in the city. A related issue is the future of that site and access requirements. If Eglinton ceases to be a wide road (thanks to narrowing for LRT), is a cloverleaf the appropriate way to reach the Celestica road? Wouldn’t a regular intersection work just as well?
When I look at some of the gerrymandering of intersections to deal with left turns, Leslie Street deserves an arrangement that won’t have traffic crossing the LRT line.
If I am still alive it will be good to see trams on Eglinton again. I wonder how many people remember that there were tracks on Eglinton from Mt. Pleasant to Eglinton car house until 1954 and from Oakwood to Gilbert loop until 1960(?), I am not sure when the Oakwood car ceased operations. There were also traction poles on Eglinton west from Avenue Rd. for a couple of hundred feet for the Eglinton West Trolley Bus.
Bus 9101 actually had side linens for the route. This bus had side route signs only like the street car. No route number and no destinations, just the route names, Annette, Weston, Nortown, Ossington, Yonge plus Eglinton West and Main(?). I have no idea where Main was unless it was the old name for Weston. This bus used to run on Ossington all the time and I used to read the side sign and the list of routes on the operator’s card.