Streetcar Track Construction Update: Summer-Fall 2016

Reconstruction of streetcar track, mainly special work at intersections, continues this year with the intersection of College & Lansdowne. This forms one third of “College Loop” at the triangle of Lansdowne, College and Dundas. The west leg at Dundas & College is planned for 2018, and the south leg at Dundas & Lansdowne in 2019. These dates are subject to change as track projects are co-ordinated with other work, notably that by Toronto Water.

Updated August 11, 2016:

I inquired of the TTC about some aspects of this work. Here are my questions and the replies from Stephen Lam, Head of the Streetcar Department.

1. The trailing switches have boxes similar to the one used for facing points for electric switch machines. [See last photo in the gallery below.] What is this for?

The larger boxes on the trailing switches (east/west) are in place in order to accommodate the mechanical parts to a new prototype switch we are planning on testing out.

2. The track northbound on Lansdowne now veers to the left rather than running straight north so that the position of the curves at College is shifted slightly. Is there an intersection redesign going on as part of this work that requires this? On a related note, the north to east curve was supposed to be non-clearance for a turning CLRV and a vehicle running through straight west. Has this been changed with the curve in a new location?

The track northbound veers to the left due to realignment of the northbound shoulder lane, this will allow for two proper shoulder lanes northbound and southbound. The north to east curve is designed to allow both north to east and westbound cars to traverse through the area at the same time.

3. Parts of the new track appear to be at a lower level than the surrounding curb lanes. Is the intersection being regraded?

The City redesigned some of the grades within the intersection to allow for improved slope to the catch basins.  When standing from the street, it can be deceiving when looking at the rail in relation to the road.  You have a better perspective when standing inside the pit. The grades still need to be set by the City.

7 thoughts on “Streetcar Track Construction Update: Summer-Fall 2016

  1. Was it the Lansdowne and College intersection with a curve where one turning street could collide with another in a specific position? Has that been eliminated or is it a factor of the intersection geometry that cannot be remedied?

    Steve: Yes, it was that intersection, and the geometry does appear to have changed, although this may have more to do with the road lane layout. The northbound track on Lansdowne now veers west before reaching the northbound switch. I have to check into this with TTC once they’re back from the long weekend.


  2. I think that clearance problem at Lansdowne/College was fixed a long, long time ago. Maybe when the southbound track was taken away. I forget what exactly would hit where–possibly a north-to-east turning car would hit a westbound car on College? There was a big sign that laid out the problem for operators. If someone can find the picture of that sign, all would be explained.

    There is no such sign there any more, that I’m pretty sure of.


  3. “There is no such sign there any more, that I’m pretty sure of.”

    Google Streetview shows the sign was there as of the most recent survey in August 2015. It faces streetcars on northbound Lansdowne and says “C.L.R.V. will not clear a westbound streetcar,” which implies the north-to-east curve was the problem. This makes sense given the geometry of the intersection where streetcars on College cross the Lansdowne special work at odd angles.


  4. It’s too bad that the TTC (more likely by order by the city) removed many streetcar track connections from city streets, after they replaced streetcars with buses after the 1960’s. They could have been used as detours for the streetcars during construction. Such as the Harbord Street tracks, which could have been used by the 506 CARLTON streetcars.

    Steve: You have to remember that until late 1972, it was the TTC’s policy that streetcar operation would cease by 1980, and there was no need to keep tracks from the old routes. BTW the track on Harbord only went to Ossington, and did not connect south to College, so not much use for a 506 via Harbord diversion.

    Also, the main replacement of streetcars was by the subway, not buses.


  5. Two quick things, one admittedly less about the post but hopefully similar enough to be allowed!

    1. I’m fascinated by the fact that streetcars can collide at Lansdowne / College – it looks like setting the northbound trackage further west might allow N to E turns to “end” on the straight part of the eastbound trackage instead of into the curve, which I suspect is how the collisions occur (left front edge of turning car on left middle side of westbound car). I guess there’s not much else to ask but I’m still fascinated it’s been allowed to go on for so long!

    Steve: It was a non-clearance curve left over from the “old days” of large Witts that was forgotten. When the CLRVs were being designed, I among others pushed for them to be large-Witt size rather than PCC size, and they “found” the clearance problem when they checked out the entire system based on the dynamic envelope of the new cars. I am waiting for the TTC to confirm whether (or not) the new geometry eliminates this problem. I believe it is the last place on the system. (There was a non-clearance curve at Church & Wellington, but as cars have not operated eastbound on Wellington since the early 1950s it was not a problem.)

    2. Likely unrelated, but potentially summer tech work of a different kind – the city is starting work to widen the Queen/Dufferin rail bridge. I assumed it was for the West Toronto Railpath but our landlord mentioned it has to do with “adding a new line” – surely this is false? Neither Metrolinx nor the railpath list any news of construction but it’s all fenced off and today they took out the trees. I can’t imagine it’s unrelated private development given the lot, but if anyone knows definitively what’s going on I’d be very curious to know!

    Steve: Re point 2: replies to this have been moved to another thread. Please enter any response there.


  6. The larger boxes on the trailing switches (east/west) are in place in order to accommodate the mechanical parts to a new prototype switch we are planning on testing out.

    Today’s derailment at a switch at King and Bathurst, which screwed up service on the two main surface routes into downtown from the west for most of the day, just reaffirms my belief the TTC made a colossal mistake in not incrementally upgrading their street system to dual point switches during the last decade of intersection replacements. You go cheap and you pay…


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