Update 8: August 10, 2011 at 7:40 am:
Construction of the new safety islands has completed early, and the 511 is back to its normal routing.
Update 7: July 26, 2011 at 8:00 am:
The TTC has revised dates for resumption of service through the intersection:
- Wednesday July 27: 504 King and 508 Lake Shore routes return to King Street
- Saturday July 30: 511 Bathurst route returns temporarily for Caribana
- Tuesday August 2: 511 Bathurst route resumes diversion via Spadina
- Monday August 15: 511 Bathurst route diversion ends
Update 6: July 24, 2011 at 5:00 am:
An excellent overhead view of the completed intersection dated July 17 is available on Flickr.
Service on King Street through the intersection resumes on Monday, July 25.
Update 5: July 18, 2011 at 10:20 pm:
Views of the intersection from overhead were sent to me by Michael Vanner, one of the regular contributors to comment threads here. See the July 16 section in the photo gallery.
Update 4: July 18, 2011 at 4:20 pm:
The rail installation is now complete except for the connections to the existing tangent track approaching the intersection.
More photos of construction progress have been added at the end of this post.
Update 3: July 14, 2011 at 11:30 am:
Photos of construction progress have been added at the end of this post.
Update 2: July 13, 2011 at 4:40 pm:
The severe queuing of streetcars I anticipated at various intersections on Spadina did not materialize. A few days’ observation revealed that operators are taking opportunities to make turns whenever they arise rather than waiting for the “transit priority” phases. Typically they are using regular green time rather than waiting for the “white bar” call on.
At times, this even means that they may be facing a “transit red” but a “traffic green”, a common situation at Queen’s Quay and Spadina. The fact that operators have come to use signal phases in this manner shows that they are losing respect for the way traffic is officially managed, and that the “official” way has not been working long enough for this behaviour to become ingrained.
I was of two minds about even posting this, fearing that the safety police at the TTC will leap into action and further hamstring transit operations rather than fixing the underlying problem. In any event, the level of service on the south end of Spadina is quite impressive with all of the diversions.
Many King cars are short turning westbound at Bathurst via Wolseley loop rather than running through to Roncesvalles. Spadina cars are short turning southbound via Dundas, Bathurst and College.
Construction is proceeding swiftly and as of 0800 today, concrete pouring had begun and the central diamonds were sitting on a trailer just south of Adelaide Street. I will add photos as the project progresses as we don’t get to see a grand union rebuilt very often.
Updated: A table showing the consolidated level of service on parts of the diversion planned by the TTC has been added to the end of this article.
The TTC has announced that the intersection of King and Bathurst, one of three “grand unions” in Toronto, will be rebuilt starting on Monday, July 11. As if there aren’t enough diversions already for long-suffering riders of the King car, this will add even more. It will also likely further foul up Queen Street West which is already taking overflow traffic from the project east of Roncesvalles.
The existing intersection was built “the old way” with individual pieces being assembled and welded together (usually) on site. The track is not mechanically isolated from the concrete, a practice in use for since 2003 on special work (switches, frogs and diamonds). The intersection has been coming apart over the years since it was installed in 1995.
The work and the diversions will have several stages (dates subject to change):
Monday July 11 to Sunday July 24: Intersection closed.
- 504 King and 508 Lake Shore cars divert via Spadina and Queen. There will be no service on King west of Spadina.
- 511 Bathurst cars divert via Queen, Spadina, and Queen’s Quay.
Monday July 25:
- 504 and 508 services resume operation via King to their existing diversion at Shaw Street.
Friday July 30 to Sunday August 1:
- 511 Bathurst streetcars return to their normal route for Caribana weekend.
Monday August 2 to Sunday August 14:
- 511 Bathurst diversion resumed to allow construction of larger safety islands at the southbound (new) and northbound stops (replacement).
Monday August 15:
- 511 Bathurst service returns to normal.
The intersection of Queen and Spadina is going to be interesting, and I will be amused to see whether we get some traffic cops to manage all of the streetcar traffic rather than guarding traffic cones at nearby construction sites. Similarly King and Spadina will be a mess because there is no protected transit phase for streetcars turning west to north.
There is a very good chance that the combined headway of streetcars on Spadina will exceed the time allowed by the traffic signals, especially for the turn phases where these are provided and actually working.
This may provide a spectacular example of the poor design of “transit priority” and the general mismanagement of traffic during unusual route arrangements for construction.
What amazes me in this is that the TTC has designed a scheme that is almost guaranteed to produce chaos on many routes. The current peak hour service is:
Route AM/PM 511 Bathurst 12/13 504 King 25/18 (AM: 15 plus 10 trippers) 508 Lake Shore 3/4 501 Queen 11/10 510 Spadina 21/28
This means that there will be:
61 cars in the AM peak hour each way on Spadina from Queen to King
33 cars in the AM peak hour each way on Spadina from King to Queen’s Quay
51 cars in the AM peak hour each way on Queen from Spadina to Bathurst
40 cars in the AM peak hour turning to or from Queen onto Spadina
28 cars in the AM peak hour turning to or from King onto Spadina
This will completely overwhelm the capacity provided by our so-called transit priority signal system on top of the spillover traffic problems from having King Street closed at Bathurst.
Even assuming that the priority system works, it depends on all of the electric switches actually being in service to detect turn requests. Plugged or inoperative switches cannot signal the presence of a turning streetcar, and the priority phase, if any, will not be initiated.
Finally, just for extra spice, the loop at Charlotte Street is not available due to construction blocking the track on Adelaide Street. Whether this will be cleared in time for the diversion, I don’t know.
Monday, July 11
Construction began with excavation of the intersection from the west to the east side. The King Street portion of the track will be replaced first, followed by the north-south special work for Bathurst Street.
The excavation, track removal and preparation work continued for several days.
Wednesday, July 13
By Wednesday morning, July 13, the intersection’s central diamond had been delivered and was sitting just south of Adelaide on a trailer together with the two track cranes used to move the large assemblies of castings into position.
In this close-up, the coating now used for all special work is clearly visible. This reduces vibrations transmitted from the track into the concrete pavement lowering both the noise level and minimizing the breakup of concrete between the many elements of a complex intersection like this.
While excavation continues on the east side, the foundation pad for the diamond takes shape in the centre of the intersection.
On the east side of the intersection, old castings are collected from the excavation.
Thursday, July 14
By Thursday morning, the diamond plus one half of the intersection’s west leg have been installed.
This may be an early example of TTC product placement.
Looking west on King toward Bathurst: Part of the east leg of the intersection sits on a trailer ready to be dropped into place once the foundation for it is ready.
Saturday, July 16
This view is from the southeast corner of the intersection. The southbound approach panel including two facing point switches has just been moved into position.
A broader view of the same scene. The northbound track panel and the linking curves have not yet been installed.
Looking north on Bathurst from the south end of construction. The old warning standard for the safety island is still in place, but this will be removed when a new, larger island is installed later in the project. In the distance, a 511 Bathurst car on diversion turns east onto Queen.
The following three photos were taken by Michael Vanner. This may look like a model train set, but it’s 1:1 scale, the real thing.
Looking down on the northeast corner of King and Bathurst. The crane is carrying the rails that will form the west to north curve.
Dropping the west to north curve into place.
Moving the northbound switches into position.
Monday, July 18
All special work has been installed and the grand union is completely visible. The second pour of concrete covering the ties is mostly finished.
Welders wait for a freshly poured thermite charge to cool off. This is the east to south curve.
Looking east on King across Bathurst to downtown.
This is the west approach to the intersection. A short section of the existing track was exposed during the excavation, and the new track that will be cut to size and welded in sits above.