Updated Friday, September 21
The TTC has announced that the 501 Queen service will revert to its normal routing between Broadview and Coxwell effective Monday, September 24. Service on Kingston Road will continue to be provided by buses for the remainder of the current schedule period.
Plans called for the 502 Downtowner to operate from Bingham Loop to Wolseley Loop at Bathurst Street, and the 503 Kingston Road will operate from Bingham to York & Wellington effective Tuesday, October 9 (the first weekday of the new schedule period).
For the next two weeks, we should see amazingly good service on the outer ends of the 501 Queen route because cars will have the extra running time for a diversion they are not taking. This will be an interesting point of comparison once the normal running times return with the October 7 schedules.
Updated Tuesday, August 28
Rail installation is now in progress east from Greenwood to the west gate at Russell Carhouse.
Looking east on Queen from Greenwood. The strings of new rail have just been pulled into the worksite and are being positioned for installation on the ties below.
The special work at the west gate is in place but not yet connected to the surrounding track which must be cut to size.
Updated Saturday, August 25
Excavation from the west gate at Russell Carhouse west to Greenwood is complete, and the foundation layer of concrete is being poured this morning (see photo below).
The Greenwood bus diversion information has been corrected by the TTC and the stops are now signed to indicate where the bus is actually running.
The Queen shuttle bus route now operates only to River Street (signed “501 Broadview”) because the link from Queen to King has finally reopened after construction. Buses loop west on Queen, south on River and return east on King to the Don Bridge.
Updated Thursday, August 23
This week, carhouse access at Russell switched from the west gate to the recently completed track at the east gate at Connaught.
Demolition of the existing trackwork between the west gate and Greenwood is in progress today (see photo below), and a diversion notice for the Greenwood bus has been posted giving dates of August 23 to 31.
This notice makes interesting reading because it claims that the 31B service to Eastern Avenue will divert east via Queen and south on Coxwell even though this is physically impossible with the construction now underway. Meanwhile, on a visit to the site this morning, I noticed that there were few announcements of the diversion posted, notably at stops with no service, and that only one of the Greenwood buses then operating actually took the diversionary route.
The TTC is now aware of the problem.
Excavation and removal of the special work at the west gate of Russell Yard.
Updated Monday, August 6
Toronto’s streetcar system once had many quaint corners, but over the years these disappeared to track replacement and paving work around the city. Connaught Avenue remains an anomaly, a well-used piece of single track on an otherwise quiet residential street. This track provides the main access to Russell Carhouse and its ladder track on Eastern Avenue.
Reconstruction has now progressed to the point where Connaught’s track is wide open, probably for the last time many of us will see such an event.
Looking south on Connaught from Queen we see the exit tracks from the east gate. The northbound lead from the single-track section has not been replaced as it is no longer required. (See the last photo for July 20 below for a “before” view including this track.)
Looking north on Connaught from the point where the north and southbound tracks used to join. The jig bolted around the track in the foreground is used to hold rails in position for welding. Previously completed welds are visible further back, and these have not yet been smoothed off. This is an odd, short section of track where, unlike the main tangent track on Queen itself, much of the rail is not pre-welded in strings.
Looking north on Connaught.
Looking south on Connaught where the single track passes between houses on this narrow side-street where, normally, parking is allowed.
Looking north on Connaught from Eastern. Behind me is the curve onto Eastern which, together with the ladder track and approaches to the carhouse and yard, will be rebuilt next year. At that point, the streetcar lane will become a reserved area and Eastern Avenue will be narrowed to include one traffic lane and a sidewalk beside the new ladder track.
The next major work at Russell Carhouse will be the replacement of the special work at the west gate (east of Greenwood). This is scheduled for September. During that work, all carhouse access will switch to the east side via Connaught and the recently completed new track east to Coxwell.
Updated Wednesday, August 1
Track installation and paving is mostly complete in the block from Kent Road west to Connaught Avenue, and work is concentrating on the east gate of Russell Carhouse.
Looking north on Connaught. The painted wall on the left of the photo is the east wall of Russell Carhouse.
Looking west through the eastern gate of Russell. The track panel for the trailing switch that will link the track from the trailer yard with the ladder from the carhouse is sitting on a float in the background ready to be installed.
Looking east from the trailer yard toward the east gate.
Updated Wednesday, July 25
The TTC has issued a notice about streetcars queuing eastbound to Russell Carhouse starting Monday, July 30. Because the Connaught Avenue trackage will be under construction, all cars returning to the carhouse must be backed onto their tracks and this will create a queue of streetcars waiting to get into the yard.
The original start date for the Connaught Avenue work appears to have been pushed back from July 26 (tomorrow) when 501 Queen cars would still be attempting to operate to Russell Carhouse until next week when they will all divert via Gerrard.
Meanwhile, the TTC’s diversion notice states that the Gerrard diversion will operate until October 2 when the track project on Queen will be complete. 503 Kingston Road service will also resume at that time, but the 502 Downtowner route will remain as a bus shuttle until mid November due to ongoing water main and track work at McCaul Loop.
Updated Saturday, July 21
By mid-afternoon, most of the intersection of Queen and Connaught was assembled on street. This view looks east on Queen across the newly installed special work.
Looking south on Connaught from Queen.
Looking west on Queen toward Connaught.
Updated Friday, July 20
The foundation concrete is in place from Kent Road to west of Connaught, and excavation of Connaught south from Queen to the east gate is in progress. Track panels for the replacement intersection are spotted along Queen Street and Eastern Avenue.
The view below looks west across the intersection from roughly the same viewpoint as the photo in the July 12 update. The new slab is in place up to the point where work left off with the eastern exit from the Trailer Yard.
Looking east across the intersection. The new slab extends to Kent Road where previous work westward from Coxwell left off.
Looking north on Connaught to Queen. This shows the point where the double track on Connaught merges to single track. The northbound rail beyond the switch up to the yard exit will be removed when this section is rebuilt in the next phase of work. During that period, access to the yard and carhouse will be handled by reversing cars from the ladder tracks in the north end of the yard.
Updated Thursday, July 12
The construction notice for the next phase of work on Queen East has been posted on the City’s website.
Work begins today
west from Kent Road toward Connaught to finish off the link east to Coxwell from Russell Carhouse.
The intersection of Queen & Connaught will be rebuilt starting on July 19. Track here was already partly removed for work by Toronto Water.
Over two weeks have been reserved for this work although it is considerably simpler than the full intersection replacement at Spadina & Queen.
Replacement of the east exit from the yard onto Connaught is scheduled for July 26 to August 3. Operations at the yard will be constrained while access to the runaround track is suspended. When I have further information about arrangements for this period, I will update this article.
When Connaught Avenue has been rebuilt, the last remaining on-street crossover will be removed from the system, and it will no longer be possible to reverse cars so that they face south in Russell Yard.
Work on reconstruction of the Eastern Avenue ladder track has not yet been scheduled. This will include raising the level of the track to reduce the grade on the curves into the south end of Russell Carhouse.
Updated Wednesday, June 20
Construction of track is now in progress west from Coxwell. In the view below (June 15), the foundation is being laid down from Coxwell to Ashdale. (The streetcar in the distance which appears to be in the curb lane is a Carlton car short-turning at Coxwell-Queen Loop.)
Five days later, June 20, the track is in place.
Looking west from the same point shows the track assembly in progress from Ashdale west to Woodfield.
The bits and pieces await assembly.
Schedule changes planned for the end of July (to be reported in detail in a separate article) will see carhouse access revert to the east side of Russell while the track at the west gate is rebuilt. Streetcars will operate through to Neville with a diversion via Broadview, Gerrard and Coxwell.
Updated Friday, June 8
Track excavation has begun westward from Coxwell. At Connaught, part of the intersection has been removed for water main construction across the south side of the intersection.
Updated Friday, June 1
Local watermain work is underway on Connaught Avenue and will continue on Queen east of Connaught. This needs to finish before the larger work of track replacement can get underway.
The special work installation at the eastern entrance to Russell Trailer Yard is underway as seen in this photo from May 31.
Updated Friday, May 25
New sidewalk construction is almost complete from Woodfield Road east to Coxwell on the south side of Queen. Little else seems to be happening in this area probably because work is concentrated in front of the carhouse.
From west of Connaught to Vancouver (a small, dead-end street near the west gate of Russell Yard) Queen is excavated for track replacement. This will include the special work at the east gate to the “trailer yard” (so called because streetcars once picked up their trailers by pulling into the north end of the yard) and the tangent rails up to but not including the west gate. The work has not yet progressed to the point of pouring the concrete base slab, let alone any track installation.
Looking west on Queen at the east gate of Russell’s “trailer yard”.
Looking west from the foot of Vancouver Street. This portion of the excavation is ready to receive its base slab.
Queen remains open for through traffic westbound from Coxwell to Greenwood. Eastbound, the street is closed at Greenwood except to local traffic (this allows the gardening store west of the carhouse to stay open during a very busy season). Many motorists erroneously drive east only to discover that they have to make a U turn (or some other creative manoeuvre) to go back west.
The Phase 2 Construction Notice gives more details of the planned schedule for upcoming work.
Updated Friday, May 18
The closure east of Greenwood beginning after the Victoria Day weekend will allow replacement of the tangent rail on Queen between the two north entrances of Russell Yard. Replacement of the special work will follow at a later date.
The track replacement will generally move west to east following behind the watermain, road and sidewalk repairs.
Updated Tuesday, May 15
The eastbound traffic diversion will remain at Connaught until May 21 when the road closure will shift west to Greenwood.
A one-week closure of the Queen/Connaught intersection is planned.
Monday, May 14 observations
New sidewalk construction is underway on the south side east from Woodfield and has progressed almost one block to Woodward. Sidewalks in this stretch are generally in bad shape from past years’ construction projects.
The track from west of Connaught to west of Coxwell has been cut into sections in the roadway to simplify digging up the trackbed.
The rate of work does not appear to give any sense of urgency.
Some riders report that buses signed “Parliament” are actually kicking off passengers westbound at Broadview. Many Queen cars are short-turning at Broadview making the overlap between services less than originally planned. A Queen car that short turns does not serve the westbound stop where buses drop their passengers.
Tuesday, May 8 observations
Overhead power cut from the east gate of the “trailer yard” at Russell to just west of Coxwell. Cars can access the carhouse only by running through the yard from the northwest entrance and then turning south on Connaught.
Congestion may occur on Connaught when there are many streetcars as well as diverting road traffic using Connaught to reach (and turn left at) Eastern Avenue.
Streetcar and bus service is erratic. Buses are looping west via Parliament rather than via River as originally planned because Carroll Street, originally conceived as the southbound leg of the loop, has been closed for one block for a new park. This was approved by Council some time ago.