Russell Carhouse: Eastern Avenue Reconstruction (Updated November 20, 2015)

Updated Noveber 20, 2015 at 3:00 pm: Track construction at Russell Carhouse is now complete and overhead installation is in progress.

Updated July 28, 2015 at 12:20 pm: Photos of construction work in progress.

Updated July 3, 2015 at 5:40 pm: Photos of construction work in progress.

Updated June 24, 2015 at 5:00 pm: Photos of construction work in progress.

Updated June 6, 2015 at 10:00 am: Photos of Eastern Avenue construction from 1928 provided by John F. Bromley from his collection have been added to this article.

The ladder track at the south end of Russell Carhouse is being completely regraded and replaced in a project that will consume a few months. This is a joint project with the City of Toronto who are replacing a storm sewer that runs along the northern side of Eastern Avenue.

The track will not only be replaced, but it will be separated from a new sidewalk, and the track elevation will be changed to reduce the effect of turning and climbing at the same time into the tracks at the carhouse.

Eastern Avenue will be one lane each way in the new configuration. Because parking is allowed in curb lanes east and west of this area, a two-lane road is all that is needed to handle typical traffic volumes.


[Image from the City of Toronto Construction Notice]

Removal of the existing track is, as of June 2, complete. Carhouse operations are more complex than usual with cars having to back into their storage and maintenance locations. Originally, the TTC would have had Leslie Barns at least partly available for storage, but that site and its access track are still under construction.

The original ladder track on Eastern Avenue was further south. The change is visible in these construction photos from 1928 provided by John F. Bromley from his collection.

Updated June 24: Construction work in progress

Updated July 3: Construction work in progress

Updated July 28: Construction work in progress

Updated November 20: Overhead installation in progress

10 thoughts on “Russell Carhouse: Eastern Avenue Reconstruction (Updated November 20, 2015)

  1. One of the major differences between the Russell and Leslie carhouses is the trackwork. The ladder track is within the Leslie property, along with employee parking. With Russell (and Roncesvalles) employees have to find nicks and corners to park their cars, even though they have free use of transit. Don’t know if employee parking is a taxable benefit for them, but it should be.

    Steve: Try getting to Russell to take out the early day service at about 4:30 am, or get home from a late night crew (never mind a baby night car). If you count the spaces in the lot and the number of operators in the division, you will find that there is far from 1 space for every operator even allowing for the shifts. Many, many years ago, I worked for a year at Eglinton Division Traffic Office (the original one, before the building that now houses TVO was built on top of it). The first 59 North Yonge bus went out at about 3:30 am, and the operator who drove it came to the division on the last of North Yonge bus from Richmond Hill (GO was only a year old, and GO buses to Richmond Hill did not exist yet). His first trip to Steeles collected a lot of operators who rode back to Eglinton to begin the morning service. That situation does not exist at Russell or Ronces, and the operators are not conveniently enough located to run an employee night shuttle. There is a place for employee parking.

    The issue of a taxable benefit has come up from time to time, but this has to apply across the board, not just to TTC operators. My understanding of the tax rule is that if you have a reserved space, it’s a benefit. If it’s a first come, first served situation where employees are not guaranteed a space, then it’s not taxable. Just try implementing a tax like that when most of the country goes to work in an auto and parks. I look forward to your (brief) political career.


  2. I’m curious if the TTC ever considered linking the Russell ladder track with the new tracks along Leslie to create a new loop and add some flexibility with accessing the new barns.

    Steve: No. In fact, when the access route to the barns was under debate, one proposal put forward by the neighbourhood with my assistance was to link the two barns via Knox Street from Eastern Ave. This was rejected because it would have required reorientation of the barns for primary access on the northeast rather than the southwest corner, and would have put a streetcar crossing of Lake Shore a short distance east of Leslie. The worst part, however, was that Canada Post claimed that tracks on Knox would wreck their operations at South Central PO when in fact their loading dock is on the opposite (east) end of the building.


  3. Interesting to show a flexity in the conceptual photo. Presumably there is a plan to store them some of them here. But is the Russell carhouse suitable for maintenance of the new vehicles? If not what is to become of this place once the fleet is converted fully to flexities?

    Steve: The intent is to have 50 cars at each of Ronces and Russell, and the rest at Leslie Barns. Ronces has a newly constructed bay for light maintenance, and I believe something similar may appear at Russell (this has gone through a few design revisions).


  4. Silly nit-pick – in the conceptual rendering the Flexity is facing in the wrong direction. Historically-speaking this would have been possible but the required special-work has since been removed.

    Steve: Artistic license, no doubt!


  5. Interestly, the new location of the access ladder puts it back exactly to it’s original position when first installed. I can’t attach it here now because I’m currently in Vienna and have no access to my photos, but some enterprising person can probably look it up in the City Archives, as I do have my Excel file with the TTC Negative List. Search for TTC negatives 6170 (the photo I’ll have available by the weekend if it can’t be found elsewhere) which looks east, while 6169 looks west. Both were taken on August 25 1928 at the time they moved the ladder track to the curb lane, as following numbers 6171 (looking west) and 6172 (east) taken two days later show the ladder track in the curb lane. It was simple in the old days, no outside unionized contractors, no environmental assessment to make sure we weren’t disturbing roosting pigeons or the like, and no NIMBYs to be ignored!


  6. It took how many decades to isolate the ladder track from the road and provide a proper sidewalk?…..


  7. eastyorkdisneyfan | June 8, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    “I wonder which project will be done first this or Leslie barns?”

    Eastern Avenue; this one is completely, I hope, under the control of the TTC. Most of the big screw-ups were done with the help of public private partners. Take a look at how long some of Metrolinx projects are taking like Burlington and Clarkson station upgrades.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “a two-lane road is all that is needed to handle typical traffic volumes”

    Really? This is just part of an ongoing effort to reduce traffic along Eastern. In the commuting hours there was always heavy traffic along Eastern, made worse more recently by the those trying to avoid the on-going disruption caused by the Lakeshore/Leslie construction work. Speaking of which, is that work ever going to be completed?

    Steve: The road should be finished later this summer, and the TTC hopes to move into the carhouse in early fall.


  9. At least there will be proper drainage again — it sometimes floods to the point that it gets too high for the streetcars to pass through. The last time it was redone the contractor forgot to hook up the drains to the city system.


Comments are closed.