Reconstruction of The Queensway and Humber Loop (Updated December 4, 2017)

Updated December 4, 2017: Construction photos added for Lake Shore east of Park Lawn, Humber Loop and on The Queensway east of the Humber River.

Updated November 3, 2017: Construction photos have been added for work on Lake Shore near Park Lawn, and on The Queensway near Grenadier Pond.

Updated October 20, 2017: Construction photos have been added for work on Lake Shore east of Louisa Avenue, and on The Queensway east of Humber Loop. A block-by-block list of the construction status for The Queensway has been added.

Updated September 19, 2017: Construction photos have been added for work on Lake Shore between Symons Street and Mimico Avenue, and on The Queensway at Windermere.

Updated August 31, 2017: Construction photos have been added for work on Lake Shore near Symons, and on The Queensway.

Through the spring and summer of 2017, the TTC will be rebuilding all of the track and overhead on The Queensway from the beginning of the right-of-way east of Parkside Drive to Humber Loop, and the loop itself.

This project also includes the reconstruction of the bridge over the Humber River which will be done in three stages:

  1. March to June: Work will take place in the middle of the bridge; TTC tracks and deck will be removed.Bearings on the bridge will also be replaced. A new bridgedeck will be constructed including waterproofing and paving.
  2. June to September: Work will take place on both the north and south sides of the bridge, with traffic moving to the centre of the bridge. New sidewalks, parapet walls, light poles and metal railings will be constructed. A new bridge deck will be constructed including waterproofing and paving.
  3. September to December: Work will consist of installing replacement TTC streetcar tracks. TTC will reinstate overhead electrical wiring to support service when it resumes. The top layer of asphalt will be installed along with permanent road lane markings.  [From City of Toronto Construction Notice, March 3, 2017.]

This post will be a repository for photographs of the construction work as it progresses.

Reconstruction west from Humber Loop on Lake Shore Boulevard to Dwight Ave (the point where Lake Shore straightens out for its run west to Brown’s Line) will follow later in the year.

The segment east of Parkside to Roncesvalles is planned to be rebuilt and reconfigured as reserved transit lanes during a project in 2019 that will also include replacement of all special work at Queen/King/Roncesvalles including the carhouse entrances.

December 4, 2017

Track installation on The Queensway is substantially complete including the bridge over the Humber River. Installation of new track at Humber Loop is in progress.

On Lake Shore, track installation has progressed east to Brookers Lane, and removal of the old track is complete to the south entrance of Humber Loop. There is not yet any roadbed for new track in the underpass.

Construction of the new substation at Humber Loop is well underway.

At this point, it is not clear whether streetcar service to Humber will resume in mid-February as the TTC is still unsure of streetcar allocations given the unexpected jump in demand on 504 King. Streetcar service beyond to Long Branch will not be possible until the new substation is completed and online, and in any event the planned June 2018 date may be difficult because of the streetcar shortage.

November 3, 2017

On The Queensway, track installation is in progress between Colborne Lodge and Ellis. Work here had been suspended pending resolution of structural problems due to the high water table. Overhead pole bases south of Grenadier Pond are more robust than those originally planned.

On Lake Shore, track installation is progressing east from Legion Road, and demolition of the old track structure is now underway east of Park Lawn (the intersection at Park Lawn was replaced on the weekend of October 6-10, 2017).

October 20, 2017

On The Queensway, work is in progress on various stages of the reconstruction from Parkside to Humber.

  • Parkside to Colborne Lodge: Track complete. Overhead suspension in place awaiting contact wire.
  • Colborne Lodge to Ellis: Installation of new, more robust pole bases in progress. This section had to be re-engineered due to the high water table at Grenadier Pond.
  • Ellis to Windermere: Track complete. Overhead poles installed.
  • Windermere to Humber Bridge: Installation of pole bases in progress.
  • Humber River Bridge: Paving of the new westbound and eastbound road lanes is nearly completed. When this is done and traffic is shifted back to its normal location, the central TTC span of this bridge can be rebuilt.
  • Humber Bridge to Humber Loop: Track installation in progress. Pole bases installed.

On Lake Shore Boulevard, track reconstruction west of Mimico Avenue is nearly complete with final paving work in progress on October 10.

From Mimico Avenue to Louisa Street, no work has begun.

East of Louisa, work is in various stages to east of Legion Road.

September 19, 2017

East of Symons, the TTC expects that the existing trackbed was built in layers that will allow the removal of only the concrete down to the foot of the rail leaving the ties and foundation in place for the attachment of new track. In practice some of the track was excavated more deeply than expected, but most of the work to date is only on the top layer. Two crews are working toward each other east from Symons Street and west from Mimico Avenue.

On The Queensway, track construction is underway east from Windermere to Ellis, while right-of-way preparation for the new track foundation is working west from Windermere toward the Humber River bridge.

At Humber Loop, all track from both loops has been removed. Construction of the new substation continues.

August 31, 2017

Track demolition has progressed on Lake Shore to just east of Symons Road.

On The Queensway, work has skipped over the section south of Grenadier Pond due to high groundwater levels, and is moving east from South Kingsway. The stock of rail formerly stored at SOuth Kingsway has been moved to the streetcar lanes at St. Joseph Hospital.

August 8, 2017

Track installation is now in progress west from Parkside Drive.

At the Humber River bridge, road traffic is using the centre streetcar span over the river while the eastbound and westbound road spans are rebuilt.

At Humber Loop, construction of a new substation on the northwest corner of the property is in progress.

On Lake Shore, track installation has begun east from Dwight (near First Street) and excavation work is now east of Royal York.

April 18, 2017

Following up on comments regarding both the track construction planned for Lake Shore Boulevard, and the trees on The Queensway, I asked the TTC’s Brad Ross for further information.

The Lake Shore track is comparatively recent and would not be due for replacement for a decade at least, and that under heavier service wear than service west of Humber Loop will ever see. It turns out that there is problem with electrolysis of the rails.

In 2002 TTC rehabilitated the entire track structure on Lake Shore Blvd West between Humber Loop and Symons Street due to state of good repair – end of life cycle of the rail and concrete.

Due to accelerated galvanic corrosion to the base of the rail we are now undertaking a rail replacement only project between Humber Loop and Symons Street. The top 150 mm of concrete will be removed to expose the existing rail and fasteners for replacement, and new top concrete will be placed. The occurrence of premature corrosion of the rail will be addressed with the construction of a new sub-station inside the Humber Loop this year.

In addition, we will be undertaking state of good repair – end of life cycle track replacement from Symons Street to Royal York Road, and from Royal York Rd to the west side of Dwight Avenue, which were last rehabilitated in 1998 and 1996, respectively. [Email from Brad Ross, April 18, 2017]

With respect to the trees, the project description on the TTC’s site states:

Tree line along streetcar r-o-w on The Queensway

269 deciduous trees on the narrow turf boulevard along the north and south side of the streetcar r-o-w will be removed. While the majority of the trees are in good condition, they are in the path of construction and will be affected by construction work/activities. All 269 trees will be replaced in the same general areas where they were removed with similar trees – a variety of native species having a tolerance to road conditions. Another 28 existing trees will be protected during construction.

Brad Ross adds:

We worked closely with City Forestry to ensure the right species were planted.

April 14, 2017

11 thoughts on “Reconstruction of The Queensway and Humber Loop (Updated December 4, 2017)

  1. They’re currently welding track between 1st and Islington; is that for the Humber Loop to Dwight section? From the footing placements, is it possible they’re moving from centre poles to poles along the side of the right-of-way?

    Not looking forward to losing the 501L buses; that’s been the one service improvement I’ve experienced in all my years in Toronto.

    Steve: I will have to ask about the pole placements after the holiday weekend is over. As for track beyond 1st, yes, that’s for the west end of the project. From the Preliminary Construction Notice, the work is supposed to begin in May, but until the final version of the notice is up, we won’t know how this project is intended to be sequenced.

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  2. Steve, is the TTC also rebuilding the track in the tunnel under the Gardiner Expressway?

    Steve: In the capital budget project list this is not mentioned explicitly, and so I am not sure.

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  3. Yes, it was hundreds of trees. You can get a fair estimate from a satellite view. I counted over 30 on one side of the road between Ellis Park and Colborne Lodge, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t get them all.

    Someone on another thread said that the trees weren’t doing all that well, but hey, they’re in a narrow strip of land right next to an arterial road and all the winter salt that that implies. I’m not sure when they were planted, maybe 10 years ago, and by now they had mostly grown taller than the passing streetcars. So we’re going to start all over again? And they are going to grow any better? No sense in that.

    Plus the addition of impermeable pavement in place of ballast. The ROW is approximately 8m wide, and around 3000m long. That is 24,000 sq metres or 2.4 hectares of pavement. At a time when the City and TRCA are trying to mitigate excess stormwater, the TTC is adding to it nicely.

    Looking at the excavation work they are doing, I find it difficult to believe that the saving in track maintenance in the long run will come close to offseting the construction work required to install the pavement. Plus, the top level of concrete will have to be chopped out to replace the rails in ten or fifteen years anyway. (The track on Lake Shore mostly dates from 2006-2007 if I recall.)

    Steve: The track on Lake Shore dates from about 2003, and there is no way it needs replacing so soon. Such are the mysteries of the TTC’s capital program. Tangent track, especially with comparatively light service, should last at least 25 years.

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  4. Hmm. I do know for sure that the west end of Lake Shore was 2006 or so, as that’s when I moved out there and it was totally dug up for months. And over the years, I’ve seen a lot of small-scale rail replacement on Lake Shore west of Mimico.

    Would lack of regular grinding of the rails cause them to wear out sooner? Because there’s a lot of rough rail on Lake Shore. Also, the concrete surrounding the rails starts to crack in only a few years. Then the rubber padding is exposed and moves away from the rails, letting in water and salt down to the trackbed level. The west end of Lake Shore has some pretty rough and broken concrete around the tracks, so even if the rail is good for 25 years, the concrete surrounding the track isn’t. It may be not such an issue on a ROW where there aren’t trucks and buses running over it.

    Steve: Please see the update near the beginning of the article.

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  5. Is anything exciting actually happening in Humber Loop in terms of design, or are we just getting new track here? I haven’t seen anything that relates to how things will look when it’s done.

    Steve: The platform areas (including spaces that are now simply dirt beside the tracks) will be properly paved/repaved. Also, there will be a new substation on the west side of the “Long Branch” Humber Loop.

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  6. Roma said: I see all the trees were cut down and we’ve gone back to having an ugly road. What was that all about??!

    The trees were blighted. New trees should be still be included in the construction.

    Ed said: So we’re going to start all over again? And they are going to grow any better?

    Yep and maybe. The environmental report suggested a more disease/salt-resistant species.

    Ed said: Plus the addition of impermeable pavement in place of ballast.

    The stormwater analysis didn’t have any significant new run-off contributions. The last I heard, there was going to be an infiltration trench along the side of the ROW to mitigate the quality/quantity of the switch.

    Ed said: I find it difficult to believe that the saving in track maintenance in the long run will come close to offseting the construction work required to install the pavement.

    Steve: The track on Lake Shore dates from about 2003, and there is no way it needs replacing so soon.

    Part of the reason was the deck replacement of the Humber Bridge. Another part was differential settlement of the subgrade, particularly under the South Kingsway underpass, but there were undulations as well. You’d notice it when you transitioned from the platform areas and RETRAC intersections to the ‘normal’ track.

    The current design wasn’t meant to cover the cost of construction, but that the incremental cost of the construction and the short lifespan the last set had would be offset by the solid design.

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  7. Roma said: you mention new trees will be planted? Is this confirmed and where is this information from?

    As I mentioned, I’m not sure what will actually be built/planted or when. However, in a former life, this was my design/project, so I’m aware of the development and planning, but not the tendering and construction.

    Steve: If both of you read the update to my article, you would know that (a) the TTC talks about this explicitly on their website, and (b) Brad Ross has confirmed that the TTC is co-ordinating this with City Forestry.

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  8. Due to accelerated galvanic corrosion to the base of the rail we are now undertaking a rail replacement only project between Humber Loop and Symons Street. The top 150 mm of concrete will be removed to expose the existing rail and fasteners for replacement, and new top concrete will be placed. The occurrence of premature corrosion of the rail will be addressed with the construction of a new sub-station inside the Humber Loop this year.

    What does this mean? How does a new sub-station address the problem?

    Steve: It means that the rail has been corroding through electrolysis, a problem faced by all electric railways, generally caused by improper ground return. Instead of the ground current flowing back via cables to the substations, it flows out into the earth but in the process can cause the track to erode. A new substation together with feeder cables will provide a proper power feeder and return circuit over a shorter distance. This also affects the ability to maintain proper voltage. There are two substations on the western part of Lake Shore, but the portion west from Humber Loop is now fed from Roncesvalles.

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  9. Any word on whether there will be a dedicated streetcar right of way west of Humber loop and/or east of Roncesvalles (i.e. the portions of the route that suffer most from traffic slowdowns)? I am guessing not since it wasn’t mentioned anywhere.

    Steve: There are plans for an exclusive lane from Humber Loop to Park Lawn, and from the east end of the right-of-way at Parkside Drive to Roncesvalles, but nothing east of Ronces as there simply isn’t space.

    Sounds like the year+ of construction will result in basically the same service as before.

    Are the new Bombardier cars planned to run on this route once the track work is finished?

    Steve: Not immediately. Queen will continue to run with ALRVs.

    I am worried that the higher capacity streetcars will be matched with less frequent service…any word on frequency once the new cars start running?

    Steve: Because Queen is already scheduled based on larger cars, the change to the Flexity fleet would be minimal, at least in the original plans. Those are interim projections, but so much is hostage to the City’s miserly attitude to TTC subsidies, I would not count on anything right now.

    Lastly… any word on when streetcar service will resume? For me the streetcars are a much more pleasant experience overall than the buses.

    Steve: Current plans go through various stages this fall. For September-October, there will be streetcars from Roncesvalles to Connaught (Russell Carhouse) with buses on either end of the line due to continuing work in the west, and trackwork at Coxwell in the east. Then in October-November, streetcars will return to Neville, but there will be a diversion downtown for about three weeks around the reconstruction of McCaul and Queen. Streetcars will not return west of Roncesvalles until the end of the year.

    BTW reconstruction of the section from Parkside to Roncesvalles is planned for 2019, and so there will be another period of bus replacement on the west end then. At present, 2018 looks to be construction-free on Queen.

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