Updated June 17, 2021 at 5:20 pm:
In the table of station usage counts, I cited the values as “all day” numbers in the original version of this article because Metrolinx own summary article showed the total value as “daily” not as “peak hourly” . I asked Metrolinx about this discrepancy, and they have not yet responded. However, they have changed the article in which “daily” was used to now say “busiest hour”. I have updated this section accordingly. Other questions to Metrolinx have not yet been answered. (Screen captures are included later in the article.)
Meetings for other segments are scheduled on:
- June 17: Central downtown
- June 24: Corktown, East Harbour, Riverside, Gerrard
- June 30: North to Eglinton from Danforth
All drawings in this article are taken from the Presentation Deck for June 10. Street view photos are from Google Maps.
A common question during the session was “when will this affect me”. The entire project is complex and will affect areas in different ways as it moves through its stages. The published schedule concentrates on pre-construction activities. In the chart below, related activities share the same colour so that, for example, the Lower Don Bridges are all yellow.
Early works that can occur before major construction include:
- Exhibition Station reconfiguration and expansion (construction to begin imminently)
- Lower Don Bridges (construction begins in early 2022)
- Corktown Station (no start date shown in the plan)
There are four big contracts that will affect neighbourhoods along the route.
- The Lakeshore East joint GO and Ontario Line corridor between the Don River and Gerrard is an “Early Work” scheduled to begin construction in the second half of 2022. This segment is controversial because of potential effects on affected neighbourhoods, and Metrolinx’ aggressive efforts to counter “myths” and “misinformation” about their project. See Metrolinx v Riverside: Where Does the Truth Lie?
- In mid-2022 contracts for the south segment structures and for “RSSOM” (Rolling Stock, Systems, Operations and Maintenance) will be awarded with construction to begin in 2023.
- The north segment structures contract will go to its RFQ stage in early 2022, with RFPs to selected proponents late that year. Contract award will occur in 2024 and construction would begin some time afterward.
For the south segment, the tunnels will be deep underground, typically about 30m down. They will be bored through rock starting from the west end of the line. Spoil removal and materials delivery will occur at the Exhibition with the tunnel portal west of Strachan Avenue and truck access to the Gardiner Expressway at Dufferin Street.
Stations will be built using a “keyhole” method by digging down from future entrance building locations and then mining outward to create station caverns for the concourses and platforms. This is similar to the approach used for a few stations on the Crosstown project to avoid excavating within streets. That is particularly important for locations where there are streetcar lines and many underground utilities.
The first stage of construction will be to tunnel, with station construction to follow once the tunnel is in place. Metrolinx has not published a detailed schedule, but station work would begin in 2024 in the south segment as tunnel work progresses from Exhibition east to the Don River. Metrolinx expects station sites to be under construction for about three years.
The major RSSOM construction in the early years of the project will be the Maintenance and Storage Facility north of Thorncliffe Park. After the tunnels and aboveground structures are complete, the RSSOM contractor will outfit tracks and systems, but this activity would largely be within the completed tunnels and guideways.
Information about the areas served by each station appear in various places including the presentation deck, the Metrolinx blog, the verbal presentation and the West Segment Neighbourhood Profile which has the complete set. [This table was updated on June 14, 2021 to reflect the information in that profile.]
Updated June 17, 2021 at 5:20 pm: Metrolinx has updated their article about the Ontario Line to change “daily” usage for these stations as a group to “busiest hour”.
Here is the original text as seen in the Internet Archive:
Here is the text as seen on June 17 at 5:20 pm:
|Projections for 2041||Exhibition||King/Bathurst||Queen/Spadina||Total|
|Station usage (busiest hour)3||12,100||5,100||7,200||24,400|
|Transfers to/from surface routes and GO Transit||6,300|
Up to 14% of Union Station demand (14,000)2
- Population within a 10-minute walk. For some stations, the catchment areas will overlap causing double-counting of potential riders.
- An important component of the Ontario Line’s role will be to divert traffic away from Union Station. It is not clear whether Exhibition Station alone will divert 14% of Union Station demand, or if this is the combined effect with East Harbour Station. Based on the difference between the transfer count and the reduction in trips at Union, it would appear that Exhibition Station is responsible for about 6.3% of the diversion.
- To put projected demand at these stations in a wider context, please see TTC Subway Station Usage Counts.
- Updated June 14, 2021 from West Segment Neighbourhood Profile.
Exhibition Station will be reconfigured and expanded, but will remain in the same location as the existing GO Transit station.
The Ontario Line will emerge from its tunnel just west of Strachan Avenue, run through a double track station, and end with tail tracks extending west to Dufferin Street. From the Metrolinx description, this will be operated as a “through” station with turnbacks west of the platforms so that there will be separate “arrival” and “departure” platforms.
The GO Transit tracks will be moved further apart so that there can be platforms serving both the local and express tracks on the Lakeshore West corridor. This is a change from a much earlier design where only the local trains would stop here.
In the Q&A session, the issue of left side running to simplify transfers between westbound OL and GO trains came up (this also applies to East Harbour Station). Metrolinx’ response to this includes several points:
- The change in platform design so that all GO trains will stop here means that an across-the-platform connection would only be available to some riders, and only westbound.
- Taking all riders up to a concourse level and then down again simplifies ticketing (assuming that GO would remain a separate fare zone from the Ontario Line).
- Flipping the line to left side running only at this station would require a complex track and tunnel arrangement that is not justified for only part of the transfer traffic.
One caller asked about noise in nearby condos given the level of train traffic planned for the corridor. Metrolinx’ answer was intriguing given that there are similar concerns in Riverside for surface operation. Metrolinx noted that much of the station area will be covered by the concourse, and east of the stations, the OL drops into a tunnel at Strachan. The OL trains would be electric and smaller than subway trains. As in Riverside, they have not published noise and vibration projections for the combined GO and OL traffic. Unlike Riverside, they cannot use noise walls to block direct transmission from the trains to residents of nearby towers.
The station design takes into account both the planned westward extension of the TTC streetcar tracks to Dufferin Street as well as a possible new road on the north side of the rail corridor (Front Street extension).
Exhibition is one of the “Early Works” sites and this includes several components shown in the diagram below. Item “E”, the bridge over the corridor, is intended as a temporary measure to supplement the tunnel under the corridor during construction. It will be removed once the new station is completed leaving both the tunnel and station concourse levels as routes across the tracks.
Five properties will be affected by the new station.
153 Dufferin is at the west end of the site near the TTC’s Dufferin Loop. This site will eventually be used for a substation. Plans for retention of reconstruction of elements of this building as a heritage conservation measure have not been determined yet.
1 Fraser is a long, thin building extending along the north side of the corridor.
2 and 20 Atlantic Avenue, along with 1 Atlantic (shown below) will be replaced in part by the new Exhibition Station “headhouse” (the T-shaped structure shown on the site map above).
1 Atlantic is the building on the right. The new station will be in the area from which this shot was taken.
King/Bathurst is an underground station. The tunnels will be headed diagonally across the site as the line swings north from the rail corridor to Queen Street. Station entrances will be built within older buildings on the northeast and southeast corners. A condo on the northwest and the Wheat Sheaf Tavern on the southwest will not be affected.
Metrolinx plans to conserve parts of the existing buildings either by maintaining facades in place during construction, or by disassembling them (as was done at Mt. Pleasant Station on the Crosstown line) for reassembly later. Some of these buildings are much larger than is needed for a station entrance, and it is not clear whether the entire structures can survive given that these are choice development sites.
The station itself will be mined from excavations down from the two corners so that King and Bathurst Streets can remain in operation including the busy streetcar lines.
The property required for the station entrances includes three buildings as shown below.
Here are the two properties on the northeast corner 668 (the smaller) and 662 King Street West.
Here is 663 King West on the southeast corner. This is a large block, and only the northern face is likely to survive.
Queen/Spadina Station, like King/Bathurst, is underground, and its entrances will be used initially as construction shafts down to mining out the station concourse and platforms.
The properties to be taken include an old bank on the northeast corner, a new bank and some older buildings on the southwest.
Here is a handsome Bank of Commerce building that will be the northeast entrance.
On the southwest corner, there is a new TD bank.
West of Spadina is a collection of low buildings. The Medical Centre is at 455 Queen West, the west end of the station entrance site. (I used an older street view complete with a CLRV to get a clear image of these buildings. The 2020 view is blocked by a new streetcar photobombing Google.)
Transit Corridor Lands
There was some discussion near the end of the session about the Building Transit Faster Act and so-called Transit Corridor Lands. I reviewed this issue in some detail in The Long Arm of Metrolinx.
Metrolinx is going to some lengths to assure people that their intentions are relatively benign and that the likelihood of needing to make changes on or to acquire property within the “corridor” is low. The problem lies in the shifting definition of “corridor” which most people had assumed was the immediate right-of-way occupied by (and in some cases owned by) Metrolinx. This is reinforced by the diagram used in their presentation.
In practice, the “Transit Corridor Lands” are irregularly shaped areas (light blue in the map below, click for a larger image). Metrolinx’ explanation is that they are protecting for areas around the line where utility works might occur as part of the line’s construction. This area is considerably larger in some areas than the immediate “corridor” thought of in the narrow terms of “where the tracks are”.
Notable by their absence from the presentation on June 10 were any of the maps such as the one below showing the extent of the area within which Metrolinx will exert control over properties.
With all of the confusion and lack of detailed plans from Metrolinx, this reinforces the impression that the OL could have a much wider impact than just along the rights-of-way. Metrolinx does itself no favours by publishing diagrams that show conflicting views of what a “corridor” means, and simultaneously attacking community groups for “misinformation” and “myths”.