Several construction projects are underway by both the TTC and various utilities in locations that affect streetcar service in Toronto. This article is a compendium update.
Wellington and Church Streets from Yonge to King
One might have the sense that Wellington Street has been under construction almost forever. The 503 Kingston Road streetcar which normally would loop via Church, Wellington and York to King has running west to Spadina and turning back through Charlotte Loop.
The section of Wellington from Yonge to Church was supposed to be rebuilt this spring, but work suddenly halted a few weeks ago. The reason for this varies depending on the source, but basically there are conflicts between utilities underground and proposed reconstruction plans. Considering the number of agencies involved in this project, and the amount of planning/co-ordination that is supposed to have happened, the situation is a testimonial to appalling project management.
The City’s press release puts it this way:
In March, the City and TTC began construction to renew aging streetcar infrastructure on Wellington Street East (between Yonge and Church Streets) and on Church Street (from south of King Street East to Front Street East). The City encountered a number of complex infrastructure challenges that impacted construction including conflicts with underground utilities infrastructure, alignments that have not been properly cleared and scope changes.City of Toronto, June 18, 2021
The track has been replaced from west of Yonge (the point where a previous reconstruction left off) to just west of Church.
According to the City, this project is “paused” for, among other things, giving merchants access to the sidewalk under the CafeTO program. However, construction will not resume until 2022 giving merchants and condo residents yet another year’s disruption when they had hoped the street would be restored. My correspondent in this area advises that the BIA is much displeased and wants the construction finished in fall 2021.
Broadview Avenue from Gerrard Street to Danforth Avenue
Streetcar service has been suspended on Broadview for a watermain replacement project that was due to get underway in May. A recent Construction Update (which is not yet online as I write this) advises that:
Unfortunately, due to an ongoing industry wide watermain pipe shortage, construction on the Broadview watermain project will be delayed until such time as the material is available which is anticipated to arrive at the end of July. This material delay will impact the project completion date, which is now estimated to be completed in spring 2022.
Broadview Watermain work may not commence until approximately late July or early August 2021. Once all pipes and materials can be secured by our contractor a revised project schedule and a Construction Update will be issued.City of Toronto, Construction Update #1, June 14, 2021
What is not clear yet is whether this work will be broken into two segments allowing streetcars to return for some period over the fall and winter. Moreover, the TTC had plans to rebuild track in the same section of Broadview in 2022, and this work will have to be co-ordinated with whatever plans the City will have to complete its watermain construction.
The mammoth project to reconfigure and rebuild the KQQR intersection and the 501 Queen trackage west to Parkside Drive continues.
There are photos of the ongoing work in various locations:
- Kotsy on Urban Toronto posted a superb set of photos of the replacement of the main intersection.
- A May 2021 update on my site features photos from Harold McMann.
- “Drum118” on Urban Toronto posted photos at the end of May.
I visited the site on June 20, and here are a few shots of the current status.
The excavation ends just east of Sunnyside Loop which will be rebuilt in this project. The intersection at Sunnyside will gain a traffic signal to assist streetcars in leaving the loop and turning east onto their new right-of-way.
There is no sign yet of whatever barriers will be added to separate road traffic from the streetcar lanes.
The streetcar right-of-way (ROW) along the Queensway opened on July 20, 1957, but only east up to Claude Avenue. Took them 67 years to finally extend the right-of-way to Roncesvalles Avenue (allegedly).
Steve: We will see what they build over the summer. Remember that the street was already there as far west as Claude.
You say Wellington has been replaced from west of Yonge to west of Church. Isn’t that going backwards? I know the track from Bay to York has been replaced. I remember seeing that construction daily.
Steve: The previous project ended west of Yonge. They have now done the part east to Church, but not quite all the way. Hence from west of Yonge to west of Church, of vice versa if you prefer.
The following comment was left by David Crawford, but in the wrong thread. I have moved it here.
Wellington Street has been and remains a total fiasco and has been going on for over a decade.
In 2009 you reported that the track from York to Church would be replaced in 2013.
In 2012 you reported the first of many postponements – to 2014 (when it would be done at same time as work on the adjacent Berczy Park).
Then the City decided to replace the watermain and repair the sewer below the street and when they finished Toronto Hydro said they needed to upgrade their underground infrastructure. Then the telecoms wanted to do the same and then Enbridge, no doubt feeling left out, wanted to do so too.
Finally by 2019 all was set to not only replace the trackwork but completely upgrade the streetscape (using $$ from local developments such as the Concert properties at 88 Scott Street and The Berczy at Front and Church.) Of course, Hydro were slow and work was finally scheduled to start in early 2021. It started well and they made good progress then, last week, all work was stopped.
The City first blamed Hydro (quite believable due to their reputation but they vigorously denied it and said they were ‘as surprised as residents’ at the stoppage). Then it was ‘unexpected infrastructure” which was equally odd as the whole street has been dug up repeatedly for 6 or 7 years.
This is now said to be an ‘oil tank’ but it has now been spun as a great opportunity to ease traffic congestion, help Pride and CafeTO.
The neighbourhood residents, the neighbourhood association, the BIA and commercial property owners, led by Concert, are VERY unhappy. We are demanding a September re-start which, if the City’s statement that 3-months of work remain is correct, would see construction finished by Christmas and allow planting next spring and a full patio season on a reborn street in 2022. Based on past experience I am not holding my breath!
If the oil tank on Wellington is anything like the one on College just west of Dovercourt they found during sidewalk construction, the Ministry of Environment will have to get involved. As I recall, they were stymied for weeks and eventually had to asphalt the area for the winter and to buy time to come up with a plan. The next year it was dealt with by filling with some material that would ensure it didn’t collapse from the weight but otherwise undisturbed.
So I know you didn’t cover this project in your post but there was work planned for Lakeshore & Brown’s Line that would add a queue jump lane for streetcars.
I suspect it was being done now to take advantage of the KQQR intersection project, but the TTC website now says the project is on hold. Any idea what’s going on here?
Steve: I didn’t cover this project because it struck me as being a relatively minor change. There is a need for a protected move into and out of the loop given how streetcars cross the main traffic flow, and definitely anything to improve pedestrian safety there is a plus. One problem with some “transit priority” projects like this is that the streetcar phase in the signal comes infrequently enough that it actually makes service slower, not faster. A good example is the exit from Humber Loop to Lake Shore Boulevard.
I will have to check what’s going on with that project.
I pass through there frequently.
Last I looked, it appeared that new concrete curbs for the south-to-west slip lane had been poured. This was supposed to go away. So I’m not sure what they are doing, other than tearing stuff up and replacing it.