Updated December 19, 2010: Streetcar service resumed today on Roncesvalles Avenue to Dundas West Station. The construction is not yet finished and this has predictably upset the neighbourhood.
The TTC seemed unusually ineptly prepared for this changeover. Electric switches at many locations had not been reactivated requiring operators to throw points at commonly used junctions by hand. The Sunday Stops on Roncesvalles which were not supposed to be part of the new design remain in place both at stop poles and in onboard stop announcements. Indeed, the location of some stops appears to be a leftover from the shuttle bus operation.
At least one errant auto, parked in the wrong direction and foul of the southbound track, was struck by a passing streetcar. Permanent signs indicating where people can and cannot park don’t exist yet, although a number of temporary “emergency, no parking” signs have appeared.
Anyone interested in watching service reliability can do so via various monitoring sites.
Meanwhile, Parliament Street reopened to regular traffic recently, and this morning, both the King and Dundas cars diverted bothways via Gerrard and Parliament to bypass construction on Broadview. No pointman was provided for the westbound manual switch at Parliament, although on previous occasions the TTC has spent a small fortune manning this location for diversions. Why the switch isn’t electrified is a mystery considering how frequently this diversion is used.
Updated December 2, 2010: The City has issued a notice regarding the suspension of construction activities from the coming weekend until April 2011. The King shuttle bus will run bothways via Roncesvalles until streetcars return on December 19
Updated October 29, 2010: Construction proceeds apace on Roncesvalles north from the carhouse on the west side of the street. New sidewalks have been laid to roughly High Park Avenue, and the new stop layouts with “bumpouts” of the sidewalks are taking shape.
The City of Toronto has an updated Construction Notice with more details on the work staging. The TTC schedules taking effect on December 19, 2010, include restoration of streetcar service on Roncesvalles. Preliminary work on overhead installation is already in progress.
This photo, taken on October 27, shows the stop southbound at Wright. You can see where the old curb line was from the location of the hydro pole. The space between the edge of the concrete and the track will hold the shared cycling/pedestrian space (see photo below).
This photo shows the southbound stop at Garden Avenue. The area where new concrete is being poured will be a shared space for cycling and pedestrians (note the ramp down to street level at the end of the loading area). The concrete is at a lower level than the adjacent sidewalk in preparation for a surface layer of pavers which will have a different look and texture to set this off from the pedestrian-only area.
Meanwhile on Parliament Street, the track construction is almost completed with only surface layers of concrete still to be placed just south of Gerrard. The street has not fully reopened because of utility and paving work in the west curb lane.
Updated October 9, 2010: Today service on the 506 Carlton route returned to High Park Loop, and the 504 King route resumed operation via King between Church and the Don Bridge.
Entering a somewhat overgrown High Park Loop. This area was not part of the project, but I couldn’t resist including this view of the streetcar coming through the bushes.
Looking south on Roncesvalles from Howard Park. The north to east switch is visible at the lower left of the photo. Concrete work stopped just short of the intersection as welding is not yet completed.
Looking east on Howard Park across Roncesvalles. There is a slight grade across the diamond north to south, and the 506 cars lean a bit crossing the intersection. Note also the overhead hanger which is pantograph compliant. (The overhead at King & Parliament is unchanged as that intersection was not dismantled for the track construction project.)
Work on the west sidewalk on Roncesvalles is proceeding slowly north from Queen. Unlike some other projects (such as Parliament Street) the road grade is also changing here, and the curb lanes must be rebuilt to bring everything into line with the new car tracks.
There is no sign of any work beginning on King east of Roncesvalles. I am trying to get confirmation of whether this has been deferred to 2011 so that construction can concentrate on Roncesvalles itself.
Updated September 22, 2010: Work at Howard Park and Roncesvalles is now underway. Because this project completely occupies the intersection and nearby streets, there is no attempt to operate transit service on either street, and everything diverts elsewhere.
The west-to-north curve, a last remnant of track serving Dundas Carhouse, will not be replaced, and this will leave the two curves in the south-east quadrant as access to Roncesvalles Carhouse for Dundas and Carlton cars. Once the intersection is finished, the track south from Howard Park to Grenadier can be added. This section was left as a construction staging area for the intersection project.
Trackwork will move to King between Roncesvalles and Close in mid-October.
Looking west on Howard Park to Roncesvalles. The track panel on the trailer is the west-to-south facing switch. These photos were taken on September 22.
Looking north on Roncesvalles to Howard Park. The track panel is the trailing switch for the west-to-south curve. At this point it has been lifted off of the trailer by the rail handling equipment. The trailer will drive away leaving …
… the track in mid air suspended to the two rail handlers. These machines are able to “walk” and deal with various elevations of the roadbed as shown here. With the track in exactly the right location, they will lower the panel onto the concrete roadbed.
A side view of the equipment used to manœuvre the track panels.
Meanwhile, at King and Parliament, the intersection replacement began just after Labour Day. The work also includes King Street itself to a point west of Berkeley. This will repair curves that were not welded when they were installed in the previous iteration of trackwork at this location. The photos below were taken on September 18.
Looking west on King across Parliament from the north side.
Looking west on King from the south side. The excavation work behind the blue fence is unrelated work on a new condo side.
Looking east on King from Berkeley.
Work at the north end of the Parliament project is largely completed to Dundas Street. The section from Dundas to Gerrard (not including either intersection) will follow soon.
Updated September 1, 2010: Work at Roncesvalles & Dundas has progressed to the point that the new special work is installed and most of the concrete work around the switches is complete. Work on tangent rail south and east from the intersection focuses on Dundas Street so that streetcar service can resume on September 7.
On Roncesvalles, the excavation and track installation continues south toward Howard Park. Construction south of Howard Park has reached Constance Ave., two blocks away from the junction with the 506 Carlton route, and track is in place to Grenadier. At this rate, all track will be finished north and south of the intersection by mid-September. No date for the intersection reconstruction has been announced yet.
Looking south on Roncesvalles at Dundas.
Looking northwest on Dundas to Roncesvalles.
Severe traffic congestion and transit delays occur eastbound on Howard Park because the traffic signals have not been re-timed to reflect this street’s temporary role as a major route through the area. In particular, only a small amount of time is available for left turns east to north at Dundas even though the normal through flow on Dundas is cut off by the construction. This is an example of a lack of attention to details in the management of construction diversions that makes the effect worse than might otherwise occur.
Meanwhile on Parliament Street, track construction occupies the stretch from Shuter north to Dundas Street. This will continue to September 3, and work will then shift to the King & Parliament area. Parliament will be completed south to King Street over the Labour Day weekend, and in following weeks, King (including the special work at Parliament) will be rebuilt from Power (east of Parliament) to Berkeley (the curve west of Parliament). Streetcar service on King will divert bothways via Church and Queen.
The TTC’s website contains two pages detailing this project, one on their “Construction” sub-site, and one under “Diversions”. This is an example of a structural problem with the site where overlapping and conflicting information appears under two separate branches.
Updated August 23, 2010: Work starts today on reconstruction of the section of Roncesvalles south from Dundas to Howard Park. Work begins at the Dundas & Roncesvalles intersection and will close both streetcar lanes and the southbound traffic lane. By August 30, the southbound lane will re-open, but traffic will be unable to cross the streetcar tracks to turn east on Dundas.
On September 7, the intersection work will be completed and Dundas Street will re-open.
Construction diversions in effect until September 7:
- The 505 Dundas and 306 Carlton Night services will divert to High Park Loop.
- The 504 King shuttle bus now has a meandering route diverting from Dundas and Bloor west to Parkside, south to Howard Park and east to Dundas (thence via its “regular” diversion down Lansdowne). Northbound, the buses will turn east on Howard Park from Roncesvalles to Dundas, then northwest to Dundas West Station.
- A separate 505 Dundas shuttle bus will operate between Dundas West and Lansdowne over the same diversion routing southbound as the 504 King shuttle.
- The 313 Jane Night service will follow the same routing as the 504 King Shuttle bus and will loop at Sunnyside Loop.
During track construction on Roncesvalles north of Howard Park, only the northbound road lane will remain open using the same configuration as with the work south of Howard Park. No date has been announced yet for the reconstruction of the Howard Park & Roncesvalles intersection.
Meanwhile, sidewalk and curb lane reconstruction has started on the west side of Roncesvalles north from Queen. Work will begin at a later date on the east side.
Updated August 9, 2010: This morning, Roncesvalles was closed northbound at Fermanagh due to partial collapse of the roadway. Buses were unable to use the street until this was shored up. The concrete under the road surface is particularly thin at this location, and the soil underneath is sand. Service resumed about 10:50 am.
Updated August 7, 2010: Photos of Roncesvalles Avenue showing various stages of track construction have been added at the end of this article. Also added are photos of the reconstruction of the intersection at Queen & Parliament.
Updated July 25, 2010: Construction is proceeding quickly north on Roncesvalles from Marion. It appears that for this project, track assembly will follow soon behind pouring of the foundation slab in the road. This allows the foundation to cure even while track is put together, but not yet set in pavement. Finishing the centre lanes is important so that traffic can shift to them allowing reconstruction and reconfiguration of curb lanes and sidewalks. The new overhead poles will be installed as part of the sidewalk work because their location will change to suit the new street layout.
Updated July 24, 2010: The overall timelines for the Parliament Street project are:
- Starting July 26: Construction begins south from Shuter
- July 30 to August 16: Intersection of Queen & Parliament
- August 20 to 23: Intersection of Richmond & Parliament
- September 4 to 7: Intersection of Adelaide & Parliament
- TBA in September: A 10-day (two weekend) closing for the reconstruction of King & Parliament
- TBA in September: A 4-day weekend closing of King & Berkeley
- TBA: Construction north from Shuter to Gerrard, skipping the intersection at Dundas
Details including route diversions are on the project web page. The work is expected to end in December.
Construction of new track on Roncesvalles is planned to start north of the carhouse exit on Monday, July 12. This will be built to the “new Roncesvalles” design including sidewalk bump-outs at stops to permit direct boarding of streetcars from the curb. The work is expected to take until November.
The King shuttle bus will divert southbound via Dundas and Lansdowne to Queen, then operate west to Sunnyside Loop, and east via King to its terminus at Shaw Street. Westbound/northbound service will run via Roncesvalles where the east curb lane will be kept open for traffic.
No date has been announced yet for track replacement on King between Roncesvalles and Close. Watermain replacement is now in progress in this part of the street, and the south curb lane east of Roncesvalles is used for track storage.
Photos of Roncesvalles Avenue (August 7, 2010)
The construction on Roncesvalles has proceded very quickly northward, and I hope that this will become an example of the TTC and City doing a project quickly and with minimum disruption (allowing for the fact that the entire road and sidewalks are being replaced).
We have heard far too much about St. Clair, and it’s time we saw a counter-example. Work began northward from Harvard Ave. (two blocks north of Queen Street) on July 12. Three weeks later, the excavation is not quite half way to Dundas Street, and track installation is well underway.
Looking south across Howard Park Avenue, we can see the remnants of the intersection with the 506 Carlton route which continues to operate to High Park Loop. This intersection will be rebuilt, including the west-to-north curve (the survey marks for it are in place already), one of the few remnants of Dundas Carhouse.
Looking south at Grenadier Road. The rather uneven condition of the pavement is left over from the watermain work done in 2009 which required removal of the streetcar tracks.
Looking north at Westminster Avenue. This is the north end of the excavation as of August 7, 2010. Note the depth of the excavation. As you will see in photos below, a completely new track foundation will be constructed, quite likely much better than what was removed.
Looking south from High Park Boulevard / Fermanagh Avenue. The 504 King shuttle buses must pick their way carefully between the construction pylons, the excavation, the hydro poles and the existing sidewalk. This is not a high-speed operation. Meanwhile, this stretch of the excavation shows the base in various stages of being packed down and levelled in preparation for the concrete slab.
This view looks north to Fermanagh (the previous shot was taken from the pedestrian bridge visible here) again showing the depth of the excavation and the tightness of the single northbound lane.
Looking south toward Garden Avenue. Here you can see track that has been laid in place but not yet assembled with ties while only a few blocks to the south, construction has progressed to laying the surface concrete slab holding the track.
Looking north across Garden Avenue. This shows the second layer of concrete that goes from the base slab up to the top of the steel ties. Future trackwork will only require the removal of the top layer concrete, the one holding the rails, while the tie and foundation structure remain untouched.
Also visible here in the completed track is the rubber sleeve which isolates the track from the ties and the concrete slabs to reduce vibration and to increase roadbed life. All of the joints between the rails are welded (arc welding to make the track strings visible in the previous photo, thermite welding at the joints between the strings).
Looking south to Pearson Avenue. The top layer of concrete is in various stages of completion here.
Looking north from Harvard Avenue. The track structure is finished here, and temporary fill is being poured into the gap between the new and the old parts of the road. Once the trackwork is complete, the curb lanes and sidewalks will be rebuilt. This will include the portion of Roncesvalles from Harvard to the North Gate of Roncesvalles Carhouse.
Plans for reconfiguration of The Queensway including the roadway lane rearrangement at Roncesvalles (not the tracks) are on hold.
Photos of Queen & Parliament
This is a complex intersection which is 3/4 of a “grand union” having six of the possible eight curves plus the central diamonds.
Work began on July 26 with excavation of Parliament Street south from Shuter to Queen including the special work on the north side of the intersection.
Each of the eight track sections (four quadrants, two directions each) leading into the intersection was pre-assembled and delivered to the site on a trailer. These were positioned for pickup by the TTC’s track panel moving system. This arrangement is much simpler and faster than the older scheme whereby an intersection would be completely put together in a works yard, then disassembled, trucked in pieces to the site, and then re-assembled in the street.
This also allows much of the welding to be done in advance rather than during the street closure as only the joins between sections must be welded on site.
The view above looks north on Parliament to Richmond.
Starting on July 30, the main tracks on Queen Street were removed. For the next two weeks, all streetcars service on Queen will divert via King and Church. This view looks west on Queen to Parliament. And, yes, power has been cut to all of the overhead wiring.
By August 3, the foundation slab has been poured, and much of the intersection has been assembled in the street. This view looks to the southeast across the work-in-progress. The yellow tent on the far corner is a combination sunshade and refreshment stand for workers on the very hot days while this work was underway.
This is a closeup view of the track on the north side of the intersection. The rail with the orange paint is the south-to-west curve. Note the rubber sleeves around both the rails and specialwork castings. This isolates the intersection from the street, reduces noise from wheels crossing the diamonds, and makes the concrete last much longer. An example of this construction technique, completed in 2009, is at Queen & Church.
The sharp-eyed will notice that all six of the facing point switches in the new intersection include provision for electrification. The TTC has a large number of manual switches at intersections and the gradual electrification of all of them will be useful both to speed operations during diversions and short turns, and to avoid the operators’ need to manually set and reset switches.
Here is another closeup view showing the east-to-north curve crossing the westbound rail.
By August 6, enough of the intersection was in place to pour the track in concrete for the main-line Queen Street trackage. This will cure over the next week and service should return on Monday, August 16.
With the cooler weather, the tent moved away from the intersection and provided an unusual frame for a view of the new track on Queen east of Parliament.