Updated September 20, 2012 at 6:00 am:
Correction: The work planned for Bingham Loop is the removal of the special work at Victoria Park leading to the unused tail track. This will eliminate a totally unnecessary wear point at the entrance to the east-to-north curve. In the original version of the table, I listed this as the removal of the runaround track.
Update: The question of track on Adelaide has been answered by the TTC in the following note from Brad Ross:
We’re protecting Adelaide at York, meaning that we’ll keep the utilities out of the East to North and North to East curve areas. When Adelaide is redone we’ll make provision as required at York. No timeline for Adelaide, York is in our 2013 program. We plan to remove all abandoned track including all obsolete turns at the intersection of Queen, Richmond and Adelaide – southbound track.
The intersection at York does not now include a north-to-east curve, but this would be a logical mate to a planned new curve east-to-north at King and York. In brief, the 2013 job will see a simple straight through northbound track at Adelaide, but the TTC is allowing for installation of curves when/if Adelaide is eventually rebuilt.
Original post from September 16 follows the break.
Such were the peculiarities and politics of the 2012 budget cycle that there were no “Blue Books” released this year with all of the details of the TTC’s plans for capital projects. I’m looking forward to getting this info for the 2013 budget when it appears this fall, but meanwhile the current version of the track plans came my way courtesy of the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood Association who had requested them from TTC CEO Andy Byford.
The listing here is reformatted from the TTC’s version to group related projects together. Also included are (where I know them) the dates of previous reconstruction projects to give an idea of the age of the infrastructure involved.
Of particular note here is the status of track on one-way streets. Recently, due to a fatality with a cyclist on Wychwood Avenue, the question of unnecessary streetcar track came up. Many comments gave the impression that there are rails all over Toronto that are unused, but this is not true. Now that the tangent track reconstruction projects are moving off of the main routes onto the diversion trackage, the last of the “wrong-way” tracks will vanish.
- 2013: York from Wellington to Queen
- 2013: Richmond from east of Yonge to York
- 2014: Wellington from Church to York
Plans for the intersection at Adelaide and York note that the existing 3/4 grand-union (almost all of which could not be used because it goes the “wrong” way will be replaced by a single northbound track on York. This implies that the track on Adelaide from Victoria to Charlotte is to be abandoned. That is an odd state of affairs considering that the TTC is installing new overhead poles along this stretch. Possibly a left hand/right hand problem.
I have asked the TTC for an explanation of this situation.
It would appear that the TTC does not plan even to retain the track from York east (with added curves as needed to allow this to be an eastbound bypass for King).
Notable in the plan is that after 2013 and the reconstruction of Kingston Road, the scale of work drops considerably. The reason for this is that all of the mainline trackage, and most of the diversions, will have been rebuilt to the “new” standards finally catching up with the poorly built installations of the 70s, 80s and early 90s. Intersections will take longer because they didn’t move to the current robust style until a decade after the tangent track.
In 2015, there will be a City moratorium on all non-essential road construction thanks to the Pan Am Games. Why this should blow out an entire year’s potential is a mystery, but the Games have taken on a status where no interference will be allowed.
In 2016, we will be treated to another rebuild of the Queen-King-Roncesvalles intersection, and we must hope that it will outlast the previous version which will only be 15 years old at this point. Whether the proposed extension of the Queensway right-of-way east to Roncesvalles will occur at the same time as the track construction project is unknown as this scheme has not yet been through an EA process.
In other track-related news, streetcars will divert around the King Street leg of the Don River bridge starting Monday, September
17 24 to allow for reconstruction of this part of the bridge. The work is expected to run through the end of 2012. All cars will run via Queen and Parliament with no replacement service on King. This will affect 504 King, 503 Kingston Road Tripper and carhouse trips for 510 Spadina (when they return later this year).
I always wondered why they didn’t build the Queensway right-of-way east of Claude Avenue (Parkside Drive). Myself, I would extend the right-of-way, but on the south side of the Queensway, to allow the ambulances and other vehicle traffic to make left turns without blocking or interfering with streetcar traffic to St. Joseph’s Health Centre, Glendale Avenue, and Sunnyside Avenue. Past Sunnyside they could return to a center right-of-way or even better a north side right-of-way between Sunnyside and Roncesvalles, if possible.
Steve: I suspect the issue has always been maintaining access to streets on the north side of The Queensway. As for moving the track south, don’t hold your breath. Given the space needed for the switch to and from south-side running, very little of the right-of-way would actually be side-of-road. Also, this would introduce the need for a signalled crossing with the eastbound lanes that would likely add more delay to this so-called transit priority area.
The King Street diversion will, apparently, start 24th September. Pity that can’t install the Sumach turn off at the same time but it appears from the wording that the City not TTC wants to do something at the bridge. Odd as it was the bridge was completely overhauled about 5 years ago.
Steve: As I recall, the work previously done was on the main span, not on the King Street approach.
Steve: The start date has been changed quite recently from the originally announced 17th.
Could they mean that the special work at York and Adelaide will be replaced by a northbound track without any turns, but maintaining the through track on Adelaide? The wording of the notice was vague.
Steve: It does not make sense to retain the Adelaide track and not keep at least the existing east to north curve.
Hi Steve, I am curious where they are installing the new overhead poles on Adelaide. When was the last time a streetcar went down Adelaide?
I was hoping they would take the track out on Adelaide soon. The street is in horrible shape and badly needs to be resurfaced. Please post if you find out if the plans are to remove it. Thanks.
Steve: Why new poles? A great question, and I suspect it’s a case that one department plans to abandon the track while another is planning for new overhead. After all, they put up new overhead eastbound on Richmond Street despite the fact it has been one way westbound since 1958.
The track on Adelaide became unusable in 1989 when a section was removed for the Bay-Adelaide project. That tower sat incomplete for over a decade, and meanwhile other track cuts and a lack of general maintenance allowed the street and trackbed to reach their current condition.
I await a response from the TTC.
It’s about time the TTC installs working electronic switches.
It’s not exactly the best use of funds to pay someone to manually flip the switches at Broadview & Gerrard and Queen & Parliament or worse, have an ALRV operator run back after clearing the curve to reset the switch.
Steve: Yes, I am amazed at how much the TTC is prepared to waste paying someone for point duty for months on end. More generally for an organization that stresses safe operations, they leave operators to run back through traffic at regularly used short turn points to reset switches. All because a project to have working electronics, something any other system would take for granted, has been sitting on the books for years.
Though the King/Sumach intersection is included, Cherry Street itself seems to be missing.
Steve: Read carefully. Next line in the table.
Regarding Richmond and especially Adelaide, it is interesting to have streetcar track that basically allows service to run the “wrong way”
But I also seem to remember hearing talk about converting Richmond and Adelaide back to 2-way streets. There was (if I recall correctly) a discussion on Transit Toronto some years (4 or 5, perhaps) ago.
If that were the case, then maintaining the track would make sense, but how would the streetcars operate? Or would it make sense to have streetcar operation in contra-flow, either for regular service or diversions.
Steve: I don’t think you will see a reversion to two-way operation in the near future, at least on the part of those streets with track. There is a proposal to make Richmond two-way west of University, and I believe it is at the study stage.
Abandoning Adelaide trackage when the intersections at Spadina, Charlotte, and Church have all been rebuilt in recent years makes absolutely no sense. It can act as an excellent diversion route (or even as the basis of a new route in the future given all the current and future condos being built in the area). In fact, about fifteen or so years ago the stretch from Bay to a bit west of Yonge was rebuilt when the original Bay Adelaide parking garage was constructed and the unnecessary westbound-trackage removed, no doubt in anticipation of the entire street being re-laid with new track. Perhaps the confusion arises from the multitude of work being done on the street: watermains, resurfacing, at least half-a-dozen condos under construction, etc.
If anything, track should be re-laid all the way to Bathurst Street. And I presume the stretch from Victoria to Church would remain for the 508 and other short-turns?
Steve: Yes, it appears that the piece from Victoria to Church would remain, but track west of there would be useful for diversions for obvious reasons. I really think this is a question of bad co-ordination/planning within the TTC.
I was shown a presentation about overhead wire conversion made at an APTA conference this year. If I remember correctly, the implementation plan map said that Adelaide is to be converted between Spadina and Charlotte in 2012, and between Charlotte and Church Streets in 2015. Confusing.
Steve: I have asked the TTC for copies of the various presentations made at the August APTA conference.
What’s causing Dundas Square at Victoria to be rebuilt in 2016 after only 9 years? In addition, the TTC has been saying all along that the tracks in the Spadina streetcar tunnel and loop will be replaced this year — I guess that’s been pushed back to next year, given the updated schedule.
Steve: The work at Dundas Square was not, I believe, an actual track replacement last time out. It will be interesting to see whether they retain the granite setts when the whole triangle is replaced. As for Spadina Station Loop, the portal approach will be done this fall and is in the worst shape. I’m not sure when/if the loop itself will be done, but in any event as this is open track, replacing it is quite simple and could be done concurrently with other shutdowns in future years if not now.
We will know more when the 2013 plan comes out.
Do you know when the trackage on Leslie Street between Queen and the new Ashbridges Bay Carhouse would be built? I didn’t see that project in the PDF-chart.
Since new trackage and a loop on Cherry Street would be completed in 2013 (according to the chart) , could one expect streetcar service there at the end of 2013? Would King/Parliament short turns be using the new loop?
Steve: The Leslie trackage will be built next year, I believe, but it’s part of the Ashbridges Bay Carhouse project and does not appear in the list, I believe, because the approval to actually build the carhouse had not been given at the point the 2012 list was drawn up.
As for Cherry Street, the trackwork is being done before the Pan Am Games to complete the road, but the loop at the south end is intended to be used for bus storage during the games. Since there won’t be people living in the new condos until early 2016, streetcar service won’t start down there earlier. Indeed, I would be surprised even to see overhead installed.
Meanwhile, the TTC now owns property at Broadview and Queen for a loop (east side of Broadview north of Queen where the parking lot is now), but has not made provision for this loop in their track plans. Originally, they had planned a new streetcar loop at King and Parliament, but this property was acquired by the City from the TTC as part of a complex land swap to bring the site of Ontario’s first Parliament back into public ownership. This swap triggered a requirement by the TTC for an alternative location, and they did a land deal at Broadview with the Parking Authority. The recently opened new lot on the west side of Broadview is intended to replace capacity that the loop will take on the east side. Whether anyone will remember this when the time comes for the TTC to dig up the lot for a loop, or if the local BIA will go ballistic about loss of parking, remains to be seen.
Two questions if you don’t mind:
1) Do you know if they also stagger the overhead wires when they do the overhead conversions? Or do they just install new wires and hangers and leave the staggering for later, when the new vehicles would arrive?
Steve: If there is any stagger, it isn’t much. As long as there will be joint operation with trolley poles, too much offset would increase wear from the trolley shoes/harp being offset to the wire.
2) Is there a case to be made to retain the cobblestone insets at Dundas and Victoria streets? Or is new concrete replacement for sure the preferable alternative?
Steve: I think the cobblestones, like those at Queen’s Quay and Spadina, are for decorative purposes. This little chunk of street does not see much traffic, especially heavy trucks, and so concrete vs granite setts is not an issue here.
I’ve always thought the north end of Spadina Circle should have been built with track continuing around the circle, to quickly & easily short turn College or Dundas streetcars. It’s about 10 feet of track, IIRC, and avoids a longer short turn right up to Spadina Station.
Steve: This was omitted because UofT was concerned about vibration from the switches affecting delicate equipment in their brand new Earth Sciences building nearby. They seem to have had no concern for the trucks which are much more numerous.
According to the APTA presentation I mentioned earlier, the stagger for hybrid trolley/pantograph wiring is 80 mm offset from the centre position. Once trolley poles have been phased out, the stagger can increase to as high as 300 mm.
The streetcar track to/from Victoria at Dundas, under the archway, always amuses me. When the Olympic Flame building was being designed the owners tried to buy this bit of street but the TTC said they must keep it for streetcars. When the building was built (with the archway to deal with the streetcar track) it then took the TTC ages to put up the overhead but it never seemed to be used.
Shortly afterwards the Flame closed and City TV took over the building and because they were doing construction the (new) overhead had to be removed. It took about 3 years to get it back (in 2011 I think) and the tracks show absolutely no sign of ever being used. The TTC is clearly attached to that small section of track but it would seem that the people who actually organise routes or short-turns either do not like it or do not realise it can now be used. Probably the same folk who are busily putting up new poles on Adelaide :->
Steve: Considering that the process of reinstalling overhead here took forever and had all the earmarks of a forgotten project, I have to agree with you.
If indeed they are rebuilding the Kingston Road trackage next year, hopefully we won’t end up with a massive cock-up of managing the replacement bus service, like we did this year (meaning that the buses should at least go all the way downtown, where most of us want to go, not drop everybody off half-way through at Broadview or Parliament. Running the service according to the advertised schedule is too much too ask, I know).
With regards to the list you published, I believe there are a couple of mistakes in there. The stretch of Bathurst from Queen to Dundas was rebuilt much more recently than 1976. It was either 1996 or 1997, the same year they replaced the stretch of Bathurst from College to Harbord.
The intersection of Church & Richmond was last rebuilt not in 1973, but in the fall of 2002, as part of the project that replaced the one-way trackage on Adelaide and Richmond (from Church to Victoria), as well as Victoria itself from Richmond to Adelaide, including the Victoria & Adelaide and Victoria & Richmond intersections. At that point, all of the wrong-way tangent and special work was removed.
Steve: Ooops. I misread my own records on that one because I had the 2002 job indexed under “Victoria”.
With regards to Adelaide itself, the section from Yonge to Bay was one of the first to be rebuilt to “new” standards, with concrete bed and metal ties, in the summer of 1995. I was working in the area at the time, and remember the project well. Even today it is easy to spot the difference between the new stretch of track and the older, grooved rail on the rest of the street.
Given that in the meantime, they also replaced the special work at Richmond & Victoria and Adelaide & Victoria to reflect the one-way operation on Richmond and Adelaide, I find it silly to do these investments only to see them now go to waste. Gravy, anyone?
Steve: Thanks for the corrections.
What exactly is the big issue preventing the TTC from keeping the NA switches in reasonable condition? Is it lack of parts, or is this simply another case of “TTC Culture”?
Steve: According to the project description in the capital budget details, the “new” electronics (installed when the ALRVs came into service) never worked properly. There have also been problems with unreliable behaviour of antennae in the pavement. If any other part of the TTC like the subway system had been cocked up for this long, it would be a disgrace. This is the sort of thing that makes me think there’s a fifth column of anti-streetcar, we can make do, sentiment within the TTC. Rather than fixing the problem, the TTC implemented a stop-and-proceed order in front of all switches (manual or automatic, plugged or not) that simply slows down service and gives riders jerky passage at intersections. Maybe that was a “short term” scheme, but it has become an integral part of TTC operating practice.
I have asked why this project (replacing the electronics) never seems to get off the ground as it has been on the books for years, but have yet to receive a credible answer. The TTC is now spending a lot making the system compatible with low floor cars. Maybe they will find some money to finally deal with the NA switches.
Steve, it’s not nearly as unsafe as you make it sound. Last summer during a Queen diversion I spied ALRV operators going around the north-to-east curve at Broadview and Gerrard stopping and heading out to reset the facing switch as soon as the end of the vehicle cleared it. Not only does this slow down operations substantially but it also blocks road traffic in two directions over four lanes. The operator is never in any real danger.
It’s a different story at King and Parliament where the switch stopped working some time this year. I don’t understand why some heavily used switches work fine while relatively disused ones stop working.
Steve: My concern for operators is at locations like Parliament and King where they have to walk back across the intersection, and particularly during bad weather and at night when visibility is poorer.
1) What about the track section on Adeleide from Charlotte to Church?
2) Will that be rebuilt with the obsolete westbound track removed?
3) Will the tracks in the Russell Yard be rebuilt as well just like at Roncesvalles?
Steve: Re Adelaide, that is the subject of the conversation in the comment thread and the original post. I await info from the TTC about the eastbound track from Charlotte to Church. The westbound track, by analogy with trackwork on other one-way streets, would be removed. This has already occurred in the recent reconstruction of Spadina and Adelaide.
Re Russell, yes there is a plan to rebuild the yard tracks, and I’m not sure why it’s not in the TTC’s list. The track on Eastern will be rebuilt in 2013 and will go into a reserved lane with a sidewalk to the south of the tracks.
What is the runaround track at Bingham loop, is it that track that goes back from Bingham Avenue onto eastbound Kingston Road or do you mean the obsolete tailtrack at Victoria Park & Kingston Road?
The tailtrack is the only track that goes right into Scarborough, streetcars once went into Scarborough where they went as far as Birchmount at one time. But surface tracks will return to Scarborough but on Eglinton from Victoria Park to Kennedy Station and the same goes with Sheppard Avenue East.
Steve: Streetcars actually went all the way to West Hill at one time although the double track ended at Birchmount Loop. The note on the TTC’s list says that special track work is to be removed. Yes, this would include both the runaround track and the tail track, although the latter has not had overhead above it for some time.
The Victoria and Dundas trackage under the building is used, however rarely used for a short turn; it wouldn’t pick up anyone at Yonge or University. It is more used for diversions or mechanical reasons (safe spot, even for ALRVs). Good location for chartered streetcars to sit out of the way.
South of Elm, Bay street has groove rail. I suspect that north of Elm was reconstructed in 1997, but that the southern part may be much older. The northbound track is badly heaved in one location to the extent that I’m surprised that it is still serviceable. Earlier this year, they did perform some local repairs to this section, I suspect to keep it in operation until it is reconstructed, but it just heaved in another location. On another note, given the poor condition of Victoria, I’m quite surprised that it has been pushed off until 2014, though I don’t have any idea how much use it actually sees.
Steve: Victoria is routinely used for short-turns and diversions. I will be interested to see how the TTC co-ordinates its work with St. Michael’s Hospital whose new emergency department is at Shuter Street, and who will be building an addition in the lot on the northeast corner at Queen.
Of all the streetcar/LRT systems I have seen, both here in North America and Europe, I do not recall ever seeing the operator having to reset the switch for the main route after (s)he takes a diverging route. My husband and I visited several eastern European and Asian cities with tram systems, some in a horrendous state of disrepair, and even though in some places working automatic switches were even more of an ‘oddity’ than they are here in our city, I have never seen a streetcar stopping in the middle of the road or worse – stopping diagonally in an intersection, essentially completely tying up traffic in all directions – while the operator darts out of the vehicle to reset a switch.
And if the TTC ‘culture’ is to stop and proceed at all facing point switches – meaning that presumably the operator has to visually check the points to ensure they are set appropriately before proceeding – then current practice seems totally superfluous.
These kind of ‘TTC culture’, coupled with how our streetcar system typically operates, more like buses rather than true higher-capacity rail vehicles, I believe is exactly what ‘endears’ streetcars to some ‘get-public-transit-out-of-the-way-of-my-car’ type of politicians in our city.
Steve: As I have said before, I don’t think the TTC thinks through (or cares) that its operating practices actually hinder streetcars (and other traffic). If there were a comparable issue on the subway system, it would have been fixed years ago.
Regarding tracks on one-way streets:
Is there some policy at the TTC that says that a diversion must travel the same route in both directions?
Steve: I don’t think it’s a policy, it just tends to work out that way because one-way pairs are rare. On occasion, there have been diversions only in one direction because the opposite one was still open (example: King via Wellington to York westbound due to an accident on the north side of King Street).
I have only seen operators stop mid-intersection after making a right turn. In situations where they are making left turns (e.g. King and Parliament), operators will clear the curve/trailing switch before stopping the vehicle and going back to reset the facing switch. Some of them will even wait for proper crossing signals before journeying through the crosswalks. Still not good but not as bad as it could be.
I’ve always wondered why no consideration has ever been given to converting York back to two-way operation (the section between Queen and Richmond already is). Traffic on York is so light that I wonder what benefit there is from having four northbound lanes.
The usefulness of the track on Richmond and Adelaide would increase greatly if York could be used for diversions in any direction between Queen and King. It would sure beat stuffing more streetcars down Spadina with its out of service switches whenever a downtown diversion is needed.
Another advantage of using Richmond/Adelaide for King or Queen diversions is that it prevents overloading a street with two busy routes.
This morning the wires were down at Queen and Bathurst. Our eastbound Queen car was trapped at Tecumseh.
I presume Queen cars further back would turn down Shaw to King….but with Spadina closed, they could only get back to Queen via Church, Richmond, and Victoria. Messy, and there are enough streetcars on King already. Putting the extra load on Richmond and Adelaide would be more effective.
RE: Dundas and Parliament
The last rebuild was only 2007, and it has to be rebuilt after only 10 years? Surely by 2007 they had already developed the more robust track, no?
For King and Sumach, are they merely installing track to touch King Street, or are they installing the track fork as well?
Steve: The project list has two separate entries: one for the tangent track south from King, and one for the junction. As for Parliament and Dundas, I have no idea why it is being rebuilt so soon.
Why are tracks which were rebuilt in 1999, 2001, 2006, and 2007 (according to that spreadsheet) already requiring a rebuild?
Steve: The 1999 tracks include Dundas at Sterling which is a joint city project dealing with bridge issues, Queen’s Quay Loop which is part of the overall Queen’s Quay project, and the College/Lansdowne intersection which is “old” style special work and will be 17 by the time it is rebuilt.
The 2001 track is the complex intersection at Queen and Roncesvalles which sees heavy traffic, and which was built the “old” way. It will be 15 when in is replaced.
The 2006 track includes Bingham Loop’s tail track (I erroneously first published this as a removal of the runaround track) which has not been used for a very long time (there is no overhead, only a switch that is an unnecessary location for wear and maintenance), and Wolseley Loop (don’t know why this is on the list).
The 2007 track includes Dundas Square at Victoria which was repaved but not rebuilt. As for Dundas and Parliament, I don’t know what’s going on there.
When the revised plan in the 2013 capital budget comes out, I will look at whether these projects have changed, and if not, will inquire about the reason for their inclusion.
I took a walk along Richmond and found that Richmond from Yonge to Bay is a real patch of vintage rails. The westbound (right way) track was rebuilt some time in the 1980s (tee rail, no girder), while the wrong way track has 1980s rail from Yonge to east of Bay (at the Bay-Adelaide Centre truck ramp). There is a cut in the concrete in the devilstrip where the westbound track is newer and the wrong way track is still the 1973 track as you go west towards Bay. The intersections at Bay and Yonge themselves were both done in 1992 as weekend projects. It will be good to get this all done finally as the concrete is breaking up between Yonge and Bay in the true style of the poor quality 1980s trackwork.
When they repair these tracks, are they also upgrading the stations and stops? Also, what is the latest on moving/removing the current number of streetcar stops on the routes?
Steve: I am not quite sure what you mean by “upgrading” the stations. As for moving or removing stops, that’s a totally different matter. Possibly it will attract the TTC’s attention when the question of building accessible facilities at all stops comes up. Frankly, to me, this is a minor issue in the grand scheme of TTC operations, but I understand the point about the handful of locations with needlessly closely-spaced stops. Of course this could leave us in the odd position of having transit (advertising) shelters at locations where streetcars no longer stopped.
I am a bit confused by the above comment about track on Richmond. Hasn’t Richmond been one-way since the 60s? Why would they re-build wrong-way track? Maybe my history is just wrong.
Steve: Yes, the downtown one-way streets date from the DVP opening in 1958. For a while, the TTC was unsure whether that system would last.
The Dufferin Loop at CNE via Springhurst was redone in the late 80’s.
Back then it removed the old Springhurst Tailtrack.
Will the Dufferin Loop still be redone just like the rest of Dufferin?
Steve: The project list includes only the track on Dufferin, not the loop.
Re: Dundas & Parliament
The 2007 Dundas project only included special track work at Ossington, McCaul, Bay and Church. The intersection with Parliament dates from September 1998, making it 19 years old by the time of the next scheduled rebuild.
Having no regular service didn’t stop Astral from putting up a shelter on the south-west corner of Front and Bay!
With the #6 Bay bus being re-routed to (poorly) serve Corus and George Brown there are now three shelters that are unused by TTC. (2 on Lower Jarvis and one on Freeland.) The city folk in charge of shelters told me that the TTC has been in touch with them and that they will, in due course, be relocated. (“The shelters will remain in place until TTC’s does formally decommission the stops.”) One wonders whether the decommissioning comes with a formal ceremony when the TTC insignia are removed by Karen or some other Commissioner? :->