Queen’s Quay West Construction Schedule Announced

Waterfront Toronto has announced the schedule for reconstruction of Queen’s Quay between Spadina and Bay based on the long-awaited design by West 8 + DTAH.

Stage I: Summer 2012 to Summer 2013

The first stage concentrates on utilities and on the streetcar right-of-way.  Works include:

  • Bell will install new duct banks and cabling during June and July 2012.
  • Toronto Hydro will install new splicing chambers and cabling to replace existing worn-out infrastructure.  This work begins in July 2012 and will run for a year.
  • A new sanitary sewer will be built in three stages (Rees to York, Bay to York, Lower Spadina to HTO West), and new storm sewers will be built in two areas (York to Bay, 350 Queen’s Quay to Rees).  This will replace existing aging sewers.
  • The TTC right-of-way will be completely rebuilt from the portal west of Bay to just east of Spadina.  The new alignment is slightly different from the existing one, and will include wider platforms (2.4m).  Streetcar service will end on July 29, 2012, but demolition of the right-of-way will not start until the fall with the new corridor to be completed by late spring 2013 when the line will be electrified and streetcar service will resume.  The TTC will also be replacing the track in the Bay Street tunnel (new rails are already in place in the tunnel).
  • During construction a replacement bus service will operate for route 509.  The service will run westbound on Queen’s Quay and eastbound on Lake Shore Blvd.  The connection to Union Station will be via north on York, east on Front, south on Yonge.  While Front is impassible due to construction, the route will be via York, Adelaide, Bay and Front to Yonge.
  • Also in 2012 (as previously reported), there will be interim improvements to the pedestrian and cycling infrastructure from Bay to Jarvis to better link the eastern waterfront to the central portion.

Stage II:   Summer 2013 to Early 2014

The second stage concentrates on the north side of Queen’s Quay to reconfigure the roadway, rebuild the sidewalks and install tree pits ready for planting (which will be timed to benefit the trees even if the civil works are ready earlier).

The TTC will rebuild the intersection and loop at Spadina & Queen’s Quay over three weekends (one each for the intersection, the loop exit on Spadina and the loop entry on Queen’s Quay).  Streetcar service will be suspended for these weekends.

During this work, all road traffic will use the south side (existing eastbound) lanes on Queen’s Quay.  When the new north side is ready, traffic will be switched to the new lanes.  A new traffic crossover with signals will be installed west of Spadina so that eastbound cars can get from the existing lanes south of the streetcar right-of-way to the new north-side alignment.  Eventually, when it is time to rebuild the section from Spadina to Bathurst, this crossover will be eliminated because all motor traffic will be north of the streetcar lanes.

Stage III:  Early 2014 to Late 2014

The south side lanes and the sidewalk will be demolished.  They will be replaced with a new expanded promenade and with the Martin Goodman Trail (bike path).  Planting of the new double row of trees planned for this part of the street may be deferred to spring 2015 to ensure that the trees will survive.


The cost of this project is about $110-million of which $90m comes from Waterfront Toronto, $10m from the TTC and the balance from various utilities.  Waterfront Toronto will lead the construction work so that all sub-projects are co-ordinated and the disruption to any one part of Queen’s Quay is kept at a minimum.  There has already been extensive consultation with business and residents, and this will continue through the project to head off problems as they arise.

Sidewalks on both sides of Queen’s Quay will be laid with granite cobbles in a two-tone mosaic with a maple-leaf outlined in the pattern.  The total number of cobbles will be about 2.3-million with about 40% on the north side and 60% on the wider south side promenade.  Granite curbs will be used at the sidewalk edges.

Two public meetings will go into this project in more detail.

Wednesday, June 6 at Harbourfront Centre, Brigantine Room, 7-9 pm.  This meeting will include presentations on many projects underway in different parts of the waterfront.

Saturday, June 9 at Waterpark Place Lobby, 20 Bay Street, 10am-2pm.  This meeting will show detailed construction plans for the various phases and is intended for residents and businesses who want to see the final design and ask detailed questions.

Some information and images are available on Waterfront Toronto’s website.  The Fact Sheet contains details additional to the summary above.

39 thoughts on “Queen’s Quay West Construction Schedule Announced

  1. “Streetcar service will end on July 29, 2012, but demolition of the right-of-way will not start until the fall” – obvious question: why the gap?

    Steve: Some of the utility work conflicts with the streetcar right-of-way.


  2. As buses operating during the CNE period would probably require rather awesome numbers, and with the lack of available vehicles, has the TTC considered either (a) a temporary reinstatement of 521, or (b) extending 510 (assuming it’s running streetcars at all) over the west end of 509? Failing that, I assume they would do a major beef-up of 511 service using artics.


  3. Why don’t they do stage I and II at the same time? Given the extreamly leisurely pace of construction we’ve come to expect, interference should be minimal.

    It looks like no streetcars for six months, which isn’t too bad considering. Service is out for a couple months in a typical year on this route. It looks like it will be difficult for me to bike through there for the next two and a half years. Hopefully the results will be worth it for cyclists.

    Steve: Doing stages I and II together would essentially reduce Queen’s Quay to the two lanes on the south side for the duration of construction. You may as well close the entire street. The schedule has been worked out to have the least effect on businesses, especially during the tourist months of July and August.


  4. I hope they’re planning to run extra shuttle buses to the Ex. Not the greatest timing to shut it down before.

    Otherwise, sounds promising!


  5. Perhaps we will see a brief return of the 522 if the track south of King holds up. How dire would the Ex shuttle bus situation become overall?

    Steve: I would expect to see a 521 service from the east before a 522 from the west. Also, Dufferin is closing before the CNE starts.


  6. Sounds good, but has there been any discussion about rebuilding Union streetcar loop during stage I while service is suspended? If this plan is not set in stone, I wonder if it is worth fighting for what seems like an obvious addition, even if it extends the line’s closure.

    Steve: There is no money for the Union Loop project. While we have been debating billions in suburban rapid transit (of whatever flavour), the waterfront service sits unloved and unfunded. Yes, it will mean another shutdown later, probably many years from now as things seem today.


  7. Could the 521 King Exhibition be reinstated, but have it run down Spadina at the grand union and then go west on Queens Quay and eventually to the Exhibition?

    Steve: I’m not sure of the relative advantage of going down Spadina and west via Queen’s Quay. The turns are easier via King & Bathurst.


  8. I note a key feature of this work is replacing all paved sidewalks with cobble stones. What idiot came up with this idea? Obviously some moron who never has to walk on this crap. I HATE all types of fancy stones! They are hard on the feet and always become irregular requiring resetting over and over while also being a tripping hazard.

    Steve: A lot of the waterfront area has already been done in paving stones, and they seem to be surviving ok.


  9. Has the intersection of Queen’s Quay and Lower Spadina been designed? I wonder how the Martin Goodman trail East of Spadina will connect to the Westbound bike line on Queen’s Quay West of Spadina. If the intersection isn’t designed with cyclists in mind, it could be a pretty terrible connection.

    Steve: Yes, that crossover is a bit of a challenge. I have not seen the final version of the design for the lane arrangement where cars and bikes need to shuffle from the “old” to the “new” lane arrangements.


  10. If I am not mistaken the 510 is capable of displaying 510 EXHIBITION but the 504 cannot but I would love to see service from Neville or Main Station to exhibition place.

    Steve: There won’t be any streetcars at Neville while the Ex is open as I believe the trackwork will still be in progress. Main and Neville are both rather far afield for CNE services. Even Bathurst street is a shadow of its former level of demand and service.


  11. Good point steve. I find that Bathurst is always overloaded with people so I head over to Dundas West to grab the 193 during the ex. Speaking of which will buses (including the 193) be using Dufferin loop during the CNE given the work on Dufferin?

    Steve: Don’t know. The detailed schedule changes covering that period are not out yet.


  12. With all the emphasis being put on service to the CNE everyone is forgetting about another big event at the Exhibition grounds that will take place the weekend after streetcars are pulled off Queens Quay, Caribana (or the “Caribbean Carnival”). The parade day demands more service than the CNE does on any single day it is open. In addition to the many express shuttle buses running down from every station on the BD line between Keele and Dufferin plus Bathurst every year, the TTC also beefs up service on 509 (yet the streetcars still run packed). A couple years back the TTC even assigned a few ALRVs to the 509 on the parade day. It’s going to be interesting to see how many buses are assigned to 509 that day and to see if they run some express buses between Exhibition and Union as they do with the buses running from there up to Dufferin and Bathurst.


  13. Well, if Dufferin and QQW are closed during the Ex, save for the 511/310, what exactly will provide the mainstay of service? Can the 193 still access Dufferin loop, say along Roncy, King, Jameson, Lake Shore, British Columbia? Or is bringing back 63 service to Exhibition loop more likely? Considering the service level normally seen during the Ex, I doubt having all the working ALRVs on the 511 would suffice.


  14. There are indeed “504 Exhibition” exposures on the signs should they be needed.

    From point 5 in the “first stage”, the 509 replacement bus routing at the the downtown end will likely have to be York, Adelaide, Yonge, skipping the Bay and Front sections unless the construction on the east side of the intersection is done as it’s VERY tight with only one lane in each direction and concrete barriers everywhere. It would be extremely challenging to say the least for a bus to make a left turn at Bay & Front, there may not even be enough clearance for it to be possible at the moment. There aren’t any convenient subway connections for this route unless people are willing to walk through all the construction to Union or to St. Andrew from York & King.

    Steve: If the bus goes via Adelaide and Yonge, there will be a connection southbound at King beside an exit that has escalators. In any event, not having a connection at Union, or one that involves a convoluted walk through a construction site, is going to be confusing for the many summer visitors who are not familiar with the area.


  15. Steve, any idea of when the track replacement/replacement bus service for Spadina will end? I think it would be in TTC’s best interest to keep at least one of the streetcar routes as streetcar rather than both bus. (Spadina’s bus service to have an average speed of around 10 km/h…oh boy)

    Steve: I think they are hoping to have the work on Spadina done by Labour Day so that the September operations will be with streetcars.


  16. “I’m not sure of the relative advantage of going down Spadina and west via Queen’s Quay. The turns are easier via King & Bathurst.”

    Taking Spadina uses the ROW, which reduces the impact of traffic congestion.

    Steve: But the turns at King and Spadina are difficult, and the traffic signals on Spadina from Front to Queen’s Quay do not allow for frequent streetcar service. They are transit priority in name only.


  17. I’d like to underscore the importance of ensuring there is adequate cycling infrastructure on this section of the waterfront. The current Queen’s Quay bike lane ends just west of Lower Spadina and doesn’t resume until just east of Yonge St. This bike lane “dead zone” travels through one of the busiest portions of Queen’s Quay, including areas adjacent to HTO Park & the Harbourfront Centre. That area is packed with pedestrians, streetcars and motorists and a dedicated bike lane which runs east-west without interruption is a must-have for a truly integrated streetscape.

    Do we know if this is in the works?

    Steve: The Martin Goodman Trail will be extended east from Spadina using, in part, space now occupied by the eastbound road lanes. This is part of Stage III. From Bay to Jarvis, improvements to the cycling and pedestrian areas will be built starting this summer.


  18. The Caribbean Carnival brings up another issue. The day-long event after the Parade is usually held at Ontario Place after outgrowing Olympic Island. With the closure of Ontario Place, if the event returns to Olympic Island it will only compound issues further without the connecting streetcar service from Union to the Ferry Docks. Could service be temporarily reinstated for the weekend along Queens Quay? How much work around the trackbed can be deferred by 1 week for this to happen?


  19. Never have I heard a great round of applause following a lengthy presentation on construction impact mitigation!


  20. It sounds like they’ve put a lot of thought into the schedule to minimize long-term disruptions, but that special events like the Ex or Caribana that see huge crowds head out to Exhibition Place haven’t been/can’t be scheduled around.

    Do you think there’s any possibility of closing Bremner to most traffic during these events and using it for an express shuttle bus service?

    Steve: There are a few problems with this scheme. First, if there is any event at the Skydome, Bremner needs to be open for tour buses. Second, Bremner does not yet connect into Bathurst Street, and any buses coming west to Spadina will have to push through the Gardiner interchange traffic to get down to Lake Shore or Queen’s Quay.

    Yes, special events and their transit requirements seem to have fallen off of the radar, or at least below priority for the main project.


  21. Last year the TTC were planning to rebuild the streetcar tracks on Spadina from King to Queen’s Quay but the project was postponed. The long welded lengths of rail are still sitting on Front Street East.

    I assume this project is still on their schedule and hope it will be done while Queen’s Quay is out of commission (as it were). The same applies to any (track or overhead) work needed in the tunnel or the Union Station loop.

    Steve: There is already new track sitting in the Bay Street tunnel and, yes, I believe that the Spadina track is to be done as part of this summer’s project.


  22. I don’t know if this is related to this project or simply part of regular maintenance. York St. northbound was closed at Queens Quay for most of yesterday, June 7 for what appeared to be work on the sewage line. Perhaps trying to get the lay of the land before major work gets underway?

    In other news, the 510 streetcars made their return to Queens Quay. Given that the route will be bustituted in just over a week, it’s a welcome reprieve, albeit a short one. The transfers between the 509 and 510 at Queens Quay and Spadina didn’t seem as straightforward if you were unfamiliar with the area and where all the stops were located. Plus the traffic jams with all of the streetcars trying to get in and out of the loop were slightly frustrating even to watch.


  23. “I note a key feature of this work is replacing all paved sidewalks with cobble stones. What idiot came up with this idea? Obviously some moron who never has to walk on this crap. I HATE all types of fancy stones!”

    Indeed. There is a lot to be said for making sidewalks asphalt, and making the *roads* cobblestone; cars don’t care nearly as much about surface quality as pedestrians.


  24. For the benefit of your readers Steve I asked Andy Byford at the town hall how the TTC planned to mitigate the inconvenience to customers by planning construction on weekends such as doors open or during the CNE which are fixed points on the calendar more or less from year to year. I also asked for info regarding Dufferin during the CNE in order to see if it will be open to transit vehicles providing service to the west end of Exhibition Place.

    I was told by Mitch Stambler and Brad Ross that nobody knew right then and there but they would find out. I am expecting an update regarding Dufferin and the CNE from Mitch next week.

    Steve: Thanks for the update. One big ongoing problem the TTC has is that the City seems to have forgotten how to pull together roadwork contracts in the fall in anticipation of the spring season. Co-ordination with Toronto Water may also drag things out. In either case, we seem to miss the beginning of the construction year and don’t get to digging up streets until much later than used to be the case. On Harbourfront, the problem has been first in finalizing the funding (that was tied up in the City’s budget process to allow Waterfront Toronto to move money between accounts), and then in getting all the details nailed down among all the parties for exactly what will happen on Queen’s Quay.

    Co-ordination on this scale may lead to less disruption during the project itself, but it increases the lead time, especially if some agencies don’t regard their part of the planning as “urgent”. This has intriguing implications for the Eglinton project.


  25. “Indeed. There is a lot to be said for making sidewalks asphalt, and making the *roads* cobblestone; cars don’t care nearly as much about surface quality as pedestrians.”

    Am I missing something here? I have not seen anything about cobblestones. The fact sheet talks about “granite pavers” for the sidewalk. Aren’t these like what was installed on Bloor Street sidewalks last year? They are completely flat, smooth and regular.

    Steve: Yes. I think Waterfront Toronto is trying to give a sense of quainte olde worlde charme. Whatever we call them, there will be lots and lots of them.


  26. Isn’t the planned sidewalk treatment almost exactly the same as what’s already done on the Waterfront promenade between Jarvis and Sherbourne (i.e. south of Corus Quay)? See the last photo here.

    The granite blocks are brick-sized and much smaller than what’s used on Bloor. But cobblestone probably gives the wrong impression, because these are on an even level and lack the irregular gaps you’d find in the Distillery District’s ye olde worlde cobbles (even if those were actually imported from Cleveland). I’ve seen strollers, wheelchairs, and bikes on the waterfront promenade not having any apparent trouble.

    Steve: Yup, same treatment. It’s the standard for the entire central waterfront.


  27. I am thinking now that transit service will be run via Dufferin to the CNE. After a little digging I realized the TTC has renamed Dufferin loop Springhurst loop and that even though the street is shut to streetcars buses are still servicing “Springhurst” loop. Why they renamed it is beyond me I have been calling it Dufferin loop for 25 years, much like every other Torontonian has their entire lives… Until I googled it I thought buses were turning back north of Bloor since I had no idea where Springhurst ave is.


  28. Richard White’s discovery brings to mind my favourite kind of ineffective answer to passenger questions:

    “D’you go to the CNE?”
    “I go allaway t’Springhurst.”


  29. As long as streetcars are running on Queens Quay (that is until July 29th), I shall continue to use the 509 Harbourfront streetcar as a “connecting” streetcar after riding the 511 Bathurst from Bloor Street down to the lake, when travelling to Harbourfront Centre and/or the Island Ferry Docks to take the ferry to Centre Island. I’ve gotten accustomed to taking two streetcars instead of one – both down there and the homeward journey – when travelling to Toronto’s central waterfront, for weekend festivals at Harbourfront Centre, and a trip to Centre Island (I shall squeeze another trip to the island in July).

    On a smaller scale, it’s like going “down east” to New Brunswick – taking a plane to Halifax, NS, then a connecting flight to Moncton, NB.


  30. What’s the criteria for deciding whether an unpaved physical barrier is acceptable or not? Would a tree-lined physical median, such as the one lining Don Mills Road south of Eglinton, be allowed to be built today, since EMS vehicles can’t really use it?

    Steve: The difference is in whether the lane can be travelled by any vehicle (bus, fire truck) as opposed to none at all (boulevard).


  31. Steve: The difference is in whether the lane can be travelled by any vehicle (bus, fire truck) as opposed to none at all (boulevard).

    I don’t quite understand. If the median is not traversable by any vehicle at all, the fire department would be ok with it?

    Steve: The Fire Department wants to be able to drive on any lanes that are created. Obviously a treed area is not a lane. There is a particular issue on Queen’s Quay because the remaining roadway will be comparatively small and the transit lanes represent a considerable proportion of the total space available.


  32. If people are so concerned about the aesthetics of the streetcar right-of-way, and the usability for tyred-vehicles, I wonder why unit pavers weren’t proposed?

    Steve: Probably for ease of maintenance and snow clearing. It’s the same reason we have faux pavers using stamped designs in concrete on various lines.


  33. To get down to Harbourfront Centre, I shall continue to use the “511 Bathurst” streetcar and then transfer to the “509 Harbourfront” shuttle buses running along Queens Quay, and reverse this for the homeward journey.

    The (509 Harbourfront) shuttle buses bring back memories of TTC track work on Fleet Street, in most of 2007 (with a break for summer tourist season) and early 2008. The 511 Bathurst streetcar, while this work was being done, was diverted to Union subway station via Queens Quay West. I’d use this streetcar to get to Harbourfront Centre.


  34. When going down to Harbourfront Centre while TTC track work is being done on the Spadina Avenue (the “510 Spadina” streetcars being replaced with buses until late November), I continue to use the “511 Bathurst streetcar” down Bathurst Street (which the tracks are in good shape) to Fleet Street and then take one of the “509 Harbourfront” shuttle buses which move quickly along the central waterfront and run frequently. The shuttles make several stops between Exhibition Place and Union Station, including at Queens Quay West and Lower Simcoe Street (Harbourfront Centre and Queens Quay Terminal located at these stops).

    When I’m riding on the shuttle buses to and from Harbourfront Centre, I could see the work which needs to be done on the concrete around the streetcar tracks and it is long overdue. It looks like work on the tracks has just started, around the foot of Bay Street, and will gradually move westward all the way to the foot of Bathurst Street. This work should be completed by next spring, and (“509 Harbourfront” and “510 Spadina”) streetcars shall be returning to Queens Quay West.

    Steve: Actually, according to info on Waterfront Toronto’s site, the demolition will proceed east from Rees to Bay, although the portal is now the site of activity.


  35. Will the demolition of the old concrete around the streetcar tracks on Queens Quay eventually extend westward to Bathurst Street?

    I shall find out when I ride the “509 Harbourfront” shuttle buses which stop at Harbourfront. There will be some festivities at Harbourfront Centre during the month of December.

    Steve: No. The work will end west of Spadina. In Phase 1 (this fall) the western limit is the bridge west of Rees Street. Phase 2 (next year) takes the work over to Yo-Yo Ma Lane. There are no current plans for the section west from there to Bathurst.


  36. Work is being done on the streetcar tracks on Queens Quay, and includes work on the portal (entrance to Union subway station). Will the new streetcars, when they start running sometime next year, eventually travel along Queens Quay West?

    Steve: Yes. Spadina/Harbourfront is currently first on the list for receiving the new cars.


  37. I will be looking forward to riding the new streetcars, when they start running up and down Spadina Avenue and on the Queens Quay West tracks at some time next year. Track work on the “509 Harbourfront” and the “510 Spadina” routes shall be completed, just in time for the arrival of the new streetcars. Up until now, the underground loops at the Spadina and Union subway stations, on rare occasions, saw articulated streetcars enter and exit. The new streetcars will have multiple articulations.


  38. Recently, TTC track work has begun in the Queen’s Quay West — Harbourfront neighbourhood, between the portal near the Union subway station and the Queens Quay & Spadina intersection. Actually, “Harbourfront” runs from York Street westward to Bathurst Street. By the 1970’s, this neighbourhood was an industrial wasteland, and its buildings fell into disuse. The government allocated money for the development of the central waterfront, and the repurposing of the buildings which line it, giving birth to “Harbourfront Centre”.

    During those years, the Queen’s Quay — Harbourfront neighbourhood has gradually between transformed from industrial wasteland to a bustling and vibrant tourist and cultural hub. The appearance of the streetscape of Queen’s Quay West between York Street in the east and Bathurst Street in the west became less and less ‘gritty’, as old factories and shipping terminals became transformed into retail/service and cultural space. One store in the neighbourhood which is long gone is the old Harbourfront Antique Market, first housed in an old warehouse on the north side of Queen’s Quay West near lower Spadina Avenue. It’s an early example of ‘industrial chic’ in Toronto. While it existed, it sold any kind of antique, from from magazines to coins to dining room sets to furniture, and it had a restaurant which served ‘comfort food’. It will be missed, but never forgotten.

    Nowadays, the last remaining bastions of this industrial ‘grittiness’ are the Loblaws warehouse and Canada Malting elevators near the foot of Bathurst Street, the York Quay Centre, and Pier 4 (which houses Pier 4 Restaurant and Wally Magoos).

    The last remnants of old industrial ‘grittiness’ will someday be gone – gone just like the old Harbourfront Antique Market.


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