Construction That Never Ends (Update 4)

Updated November 14, 2013 at 6:20 pm:

According to the TTC CEO’s report for November, the date for resumption of streetcar service on Queens Quay has been changed to June 21, 2014.  Brad Ross of the TTC advises that their website will be updated to reflect this new target date.

Updated October 26, 2013 at 4:32 pm:

According to the TTC CEO’s report for October (at page 20), service will not resume on Queens Quay until August 2014, not the end of June as previously reported.  I have asked the TTC to verify this date and explain why completion has slipped yet again.

The TTC memo listing service changes for the November and December schedule periods came out today, and it contains a few startling items:

  • The Yonge Subway tunnel liner program, originally expected to wrap up at the end of 2013, will now run an additional year to the end of 2014.
  • The loop at the foot of Queens Quay will not be available for service as expected in November, and service on the 510 streetcar will not resume until mid-February 2014.
  • The track on Queens Quay itself will not be available for service as expected in December/January, and service on the 509/510 streetcar will not resume until the end of June 2014.

Updated October 2, 2013 at 10:25 am:

Waterfront Toronto has posted a Construction Update for the Queens Quay project.

Updated October 1, 2013 at 6:00 pm:

Yonge Subway Tunnel Liners

I have received a note from Brad Ross at the TTC explaining the current situation.  The work has proven more extensive both in complexity and scope than originally thought.  In reply to one comment in this thread, I gave the opinion that all of the asbestos had been removed from the tunnels, but according to Ross, there is still some present and this adds to the slowness of the work.

The tunnel liner project involves the inspection of some 10,000 tunnel liners. To date, 4,000 liners have been inspected, 950 identified in need of repair, and 850 of them repaired. The process is not a speedy one as many of the liners are covered in material, including asbestos, which needs to be removed before a liner can be inspected. Add to that the time it takes for crews to get to the work location, set up, clean up, and return to the yard. As we examine liners, we’re identifying more and more that need to be repaired, mostly due to water damage. In short, the project timeline increases as the work involved increases. We are now working to determine what a reasonable completion date might look like and what the overall impact to subway service north of Eglinton will be over the next 12-18 months. Once we have that, we’ll communicate it widely.

[Email from Brad Ross, Executive Director, Corporate Communications, TTC, October 1, 2013]

Waterfront Toronto Queens Quay Project

I met with Waterfront Toronto staff to discuss the status of the project.  They have issued a construction update detailing the current situation.

Because the lanes occupied by the TTC right-of-way are essential as extra space into which construction or temporary road lanes can be shifted for utility work, the new trackbed cannot be laid down until all utility work requiring traffic diversions in an area is completed.

This work has been affected by a number of factors notably:

  • A late start by Toronto Hydro who did not receive funding approval for their Capital Program from the Ontario Energy Board in time to meet the original schedule.
  • Ground water conditions that at some locations were more challenging than expected.
  • Subsidence and resulting damage to existing utilities when areas were de-watered for construction access.  This was anticipated, but the extent of the problem is hard to gauge before the work is actually done.

The area around Spadina and Queens Quay has many utilities competing for space and for construction access.  Some planned work has been complicated by new, more stringent provincial labour safety standards for work near live hydro lines.

Most of the splicing chambers for the new track are complete, but one critical one that will feed Queens Quay Loop is inaccessible at present due to competing work in the same area.  This has slowed installation of the grounding cables for the loop which will tie back to that chamber.

The intent is to have the trackwork in the loop finished by yearend.  TTC would then install its overhead in preparation for service at the start of the February 2014 schedule period which will fall in the middle of the month.  The track installation will likely be done mainly in November, and partial shutdowns of the streets around the loop will be required.

There are three sets of special work (loop entrance from Queens Quay, loop exit to Spadina and the Spadina & Queens Quay intersection).  A preliminary plan for this might have broken the work into three stages, but Waterfront Toronto hopes to consolidate this into two.

A further complication will be the partial closing of Lake Shore Blvd. to complete the track connection south from new rails on Spadina.

Waterfront Toronto expects to publish details of the work schedule soon.

As for the tangent track on Queens Quay, the major constraint is that the space cannot be given up until utility work in a section is clear.  The intention is to build the foundation slab in pieces as various sections of the roadway become available.  Track installation would be completed in spring 2014, followed by overhead catenary, with a target date for streetcar service in late June.  (If the schedule periods for 2014 follow the same pattern as in 2013, this would be Sunday, June 22, 2014.)

Waterfront Toronto’s work plan for summer-fall 2014 will concentrate on the area south of the streetcar right-of-way which will contain the new cycling path, an expanded pedestrian area, and many trees.  Some finishing work will occur in early 2015 in advance of the Pan Am Games.

What is frustrating about all of this is that the delay in Hydro’s approval at the OEB was well known a year ago, and Waterfront Toronto has maintained rather hopeful dates for resumption of service that strained credibility as the construction wore on and on and on.