Queens Quay Update: February 2014

The completion date for restoration of streetcar service on southern Spadina and Queens Quay has been pushed back due to winter weather delays to, probably, the end of August 2014.  Today, I spoke with Waterfront Toronto to find out how various parts of the project fit together.

Work at Spadina Loop cannot proceed into the intersection (the south half of the loop) until traffic can shift to the south side of the street, but that is currently prevented by utility work still in progress on that side from Rees Street west.  Pole installation at Spadina for the new overhead is also a limiting factor and this has to work around the traffic moves.

Waterfront Toronto now expects that Spadina Loop will be completed, except for the overhead, by late May.

Meanwhile, on the portion of Queens Quay east of Rees, work will begin on the streetcar right-of-way and the new north side roadway in March (depending on weather) with the westbound auto traffic shifted to the south side of the street.  The tangent track is expected to be completed by late June.

This opens up the possibility that if the TTC could get the overhead done quickly enough, the 509 Harbourfront car could return for August, but that is far from certain.

Meanwhile on Spadina, although the loop trackage be finished by mid May, service will not be extended south from King to Queens Quay until the overhead is in place.  The work schedule may be too tight for a having the loop available for July, and in any event streetcars will not operate on Spadina during August while the intersection at Dundas is replaced and modifications are underway at Spadina Loop.

I checked with the TTC to find out their position on the situation because it was the February 2014 CEO’s report that alerted me to the change.  Brad Ross replied:

To be clear, and I/we have been consistently clear on this with you and anyone who asks, the schedule is entirely Waterfront Toronto’s. We publish dates based on their schedule. No one wants to resume streetcar service on QQ more than us. To add further clarity, as you requested, criticism of the TTC on the delays on QQ would be wholly unjustified and unfounded. As I have said before, you need to speak with WT for an answer as to why the delays and shifting schedule.

Union Station, the portal and loop down there are not affected and are not delaying work. We need to install the overhead along QQ and at the loop at QQ and Spadina, but require the track to be in first. WT have committed to a schedule to ensure this work is finished on time for the new streetcar to at least operate on Spadina to QQ. WT are well aware of this need and we have been quite clear with them on it.

Meanwhile, the Spadina and Dundas intersection is being redone this summer … and work … is happening on the platform at Spadina station simultaneously to better accommodate the new cars.

I will continue to monitor the TTC and Waterfront Toronto for updates to the project plans.

11 thoughts on “Queens Quay Update: February 2014

  1. Waterfront Toronto has a very poor record of completing projects on time. Examples are the work on The Esplanade (work was supposed to be finished in fall 2012 but restoration is actually STILL on-going and the City took it over so it would get done). Cherry Street and Old Eastern Avenue have been supposed to open for many months, both remain closed. The access to Ireland Park from Bathurst Quay is still not open because the Quay is not open yet (and the park has this been inaccessible for several years because of the Billy Bishop Airport tunnel at the southern entrance.) The western section of Underpass park was supposed to open last summer, it is still not open. WT eventually produces great products but their estimation of time-lines leaves MUCH to be desired! (It is all very well blaming “the bad winter” but the winter lasts maybe 4 months and the delays are FAR longer.)

    Steve: Some of the situations you cite have to do with approvals that must be given by others, or conflicting construction projects. However, I agree that Cherry should have reopened long ago. I will chase this to see what’s going on.


  2. Steve,

    Is there any possibility of the TTC recouping costs from Waterfront Toronto (or the contractor) for liquidated damages? In the municipality where I work, it is common practice for road construction contracts to be a ‘working day’ contract or a ‘completion date’ contract, where any delays are the responsibility of the contractor to mitigate. After the number of working days expires, or the completion date has passed, the contractor gets dinged for the value stipulated in the contract for each day he goes over, to the tune of thousands of dollars a day.

    If a good contract was put together by WT, there would be a clause in it that forces the contractor to make up the lost time or deductions would be made to future payments as a penalty for delayed work.

    If a liquidated damages clause wasn’t included, WT should not be allowed to take on projects of this magnitude in the future, as it would show they are incapable of protecting the public interest in massive contracts.



    Steve: TTC does use liquidated damages in its contracts, but this is a different situation on a few counts. First of all, the road work is a WFT contract, not a TTC contract. Second, the two major delays were caused first by Hydro starting 6 months late, and then by the bad weather (both external forces majeures). Neither of these is within the other contractors’ control, and so a claim for damages would almost certainly fail. I cannot imagine any company entering into a contract where acts of God and the Ontario Energy Board would be a risk they would assume.


  3. If it were known how long QQ was going to take the new streetcar station and tunnels to QQ east could have been built before the 509 is returned to service. That is if we had the money to build it.

    Steve: Yes, the City, TTC and WFT really dropped the ball on that one. At the very least, the expansion of Union Loop with new larger platforms could have been underway already.


  4. Given the potential lack of a 509 car again this year during the CNE I wonder if the TTC is considering 522 and 521 service again?

    Steve: At this point, it is uncertain whether the 509 will be open for August, but if it’s not, there will be some serious explaining to be done by both WFT and the TTC. A big issue on the TTC side is the length of time they claim to need for installation of the overhead system, nine weeks, and when they would actually start work on various sections of the line.


  5. Touché Steve. Queens Quay is a chance for redemption for the TTC and Hydro after the debacle on St Clair but redemption seems to be hard to come by.

    Honestly the TTC needs better oversight on large projects. St Clair took forever, North Yonge is ongoing for years now and Queens Quay seems to be going on without end.

    The whole reason nothing gets done in a timely fashion is because nobody does anything about it.


  6. Steve

    The TTC seems to be, not giving all the facts out, as to the availability of the Bay street streetcar tunnel. As they claim “Union Station, the portal and loop down there are not affected and are not delaying work.” That is absolutely correct and even if the Queens Quay portion of the line was in and useable maybe they would like to tell us just what they would do with the passengers that they drop off at Union loop. The passageway from the loop leads directly to the new Union Station Subway platform that is still very much under construction and not useable. So really, streetcar service along Queens Quay has not totally been delayed by Queens Quay construction alone!



  7. Steve:

    At this point, it is uncertain whether the 509 will be open for August, but if it’s not, there will be some serious explaining to be done by both WFT and the TTC. A big issue on the TTC side is the length of time they claim to need for installation of the overhead system, nine weeks, and when they would actually start work on various sections of the line.

    Perhaps Water Front Toronto should change their initials from WFT to WTF!


  8. With the new streetcars scheduled to arrive on Spadina on August 31, we’ve hit the point of wondering which will come first. The resumption of service on the south end of Spadina, or introduction of new cars on Spadina.

    WTF indeed!


  9. [The following was submitted as a comment, but appears to entirely be an email to J. MacMillan from Tom Davidson. Therefore I am formatting the entire piece as a quotation. Steve]

    Dec. 4, 2013

    Hi John,

    The timeline for the opening has been pushed to March of 2014. There are lands being added to the roadway that require complicated Ministry of Environment reviews before the City will assume responsibility for it.

    However, due to the pressing need to get circulation going in the area, we have started to get the portion of Cherry Street from Mill Street south (connecting to Lake Shore Blvd/Queens Quay, etc) open as soon as possible. This segment is adding no new land to the street so does not have the same requirements. We expect it to be open shortly, in a matter of a week or so if all goes right.

    Hope that helps,

    Tom Davidson
    Constituency Assistant to
    Councillor Pam McConnell
    Ward 28- Toronto Centre-Rosedale


  10. *Sigh* … I moved into my current place along the 509, I believe, the day after it closed in 2012, just my luck. It has been incredibly frustrating listening to the TTC/WFT extend/delay construction time after time, even though some of their reasons are logical enough (i.e. hydro) — honestly at this point I have zero faith it will be done by August. The worst part is I’m using the 511/504 as alternatives, and when the CNE is on, the 511 becomes impossible to board at King southbound so it makes for extra walking daily for a very hot few weeks — I’m not looking forward to a third CNE without the 509.

    That being said, I’m sure that I’m not the only resident of the area who’d like to say thanks to you, Steve, for keeping us incredibly (often depressingly, but nonetheless) well informed about QQ — well, as well-informed as the TTC/WFT seem to be, at any rate. I can imagine you’re likely getting as tired of writing these updates/squeezing information out of the TTC/WFT as we are of the delays … thanks for your diligence, I can no longer even guess how many posts/words you’ve written for us on this project in total.

    Steve: Thanks for your kind words. What is incredibly frustrating to me is that this sort of experience just adds to the “St. Clair disaster” mythology that haunts streetcar/LRT projects. Nobody seems to mention the fact that the Spadina subway extension is way overdue. It won’t open for the Pan Am Games (that was in doubt long ago) and may now not even open within 2016. Lots of valid reasons including contractor and other screwups, and a worksite fatality, but that doesn’t change the delay. However, the QQ project is so much more “in your face” and represents the removal of a service everyone used to have while the subway work just means more traffic congestion around construction sites.


  11. On the re-opening of Cherry Street, the minutes of the West Don Lands Construction Liaison Committee of December 17, 2013 say:

    The team is working hard to reopen Cherry Street. Dundee/Kilmer/WT/IO are working with the city to get this done as soon as possible but there is not a firm opening date.

    DK has submitted all conveyance documents with the city third party reviewer. Final submissions and signatures will not take place until March 2014. No change.

    The stretch on Mill street south of Cherry including intersection does not need conveyance so DK is making an effort to open it as soon as possible.

    DJ posed the question as to when this will go to community council and City council. TD explained that the road has to be completed before a report can be generated. Residents requested an approximate date this will be completed were wondering what the next steps MC will follow up with the timelines and the process to get the road open.” See Waterfront Toronto West Don Lands Project

    The project is not on the TEYCC agenda for next week so it cannot now come to them before their next meeting in April. No sign of the “easy” southern section opening either and GO/Metrolinx are about to start repair work on the rail bridge (they are working on the Lower Sherbourne one right now) so I am betting Cherry will remain closed for several more months. Stuff like this (and the QQ work) do not give one great confidence.


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