Ashbridge Carhouse Routing Options

This article is background material for the discussion of routing options to Ashbridge Carhouse.

Updated May 30, 2010

  • Ashbridge Carhouse map reference updated to point to the most recent version taken from the TTC’s June 2 report.

Options Under Discussion

The TTC’s preferred route is from Leslie and Queen south to the site entering at the southwest corner.

Two options using Russell Yard appeared in my email to the project team.

  1. Southbound traffic to Ashbridge Carhouse would use Connaught Avenue, while northbound traffic would use the “runaround track” kept free within the yard for equipment moves within the carhouse.  Or …
  2. A bidirectional link to Queen would replace the westernmost tracks in the yard.  These would connect to Queen via a reconfigured junction at the west gate of Russell Carhouse.

In both cases the Russell/Knox alternatives travel west on Eastern to Knox, south between Canada Post and the Fire Academy, across Lake Shore (a new crossing) and into the northeast corner of the site.

The Coxwell alternative travels south from Queen via Coxwell to Lake Shore, then west to the site. The TTC analysis shows it entering at the southwest corner, but if the Knox alternative is viable, then a northeast entrance is also possible.  Combined with a side-of-road alignment on the south side of Lake Shore, this configuration would remove some of the TTC’s concerns about the Lake Shore & Leslie intersection, and would remove streetcars from Leslie completely.

General Issues

Site Layout and Entrances

Although the TTC used the northeast entrance in one of its evaluated schemes, it prefers that tracks enter at the southwest to provide for future connection west to a Commissioners Street line in the Port Lands.  Any designs intended to mitigate the presence of tracks on Leslie should recognize this future requirement.

A northeast entrance would require tracks to cross through the planned 2.5m berm on this side of the site.

The TTC argues that if space is taken from Russell Yard, they will have to expand storage at Ashbridge and this will eliminate the green space now planned for the north edge of the site.  The staging of space at Russell needs to be reviewed, especially that required for the “prototype testing facility” on the west side of the carhouse building which should not be a permanent requirement.  A staging plan is needed to show the evolution of carhouse space needs during the multi-year transition to the new fleet.  Also, the future use of existing buildings at Roncesvalles and Russell needs to be clarified.

For the Ashbridge Carhouse Plan, see the TTC Report at page 33.

Russell Carhouse Plan

Cycling Issues

There are two cycling issues regarding any access to the new carhouse.

First is the question of road space.  On a four-lane street with parking, cyclists are forced to use space near the centre lane.  This places them between parked cars and passing streetcars.  If they are forced onto the streetcar lane by actions of parked cars, they risk entrapment by the streetcar rails.

Second is the question of streetcar rail crossings with cycling paths.  There are paths parallel to Lake Shore at Leslie on both the north and south side of the road which the streetcars must cross, and Leslie Street itself is a busy access to the “Spit”.

The other major road proposed as an access, Coxwell, also has a considerable amount of cycling traffic to Ashbridges Bay Park.

Both Leslie and Coxwell are pre-existing uses for cycling.  Although conflicts between cycling and streetcar rails have existed for a very long time, any new installation on an established cycling route needs to accept that the cyclists “got there first” much as the streetcars did on the older part of the network.

At a minimum, the TTC should investigate road treatments (rubber pads) used in other jurisdictions for rail crossings to minimize entrapment possibilities for bicycle wheels, and rail/cycle crossings should be kept at or close to 90 degrees.

Noise and Vibration

Regardless of which route is taken from Queen to the new carhouse, there will be concerns about noise and vibration.  However, the reference point used by people in the neighbourhood, Russell Carhouse, is surrounded by old track overdue for replacement that does not have the same degree of mechanical isolation from the road as modern TTC installations.

The switches around the carhouse notably on Queen and on Connaught are not built with rubber insulation, and the pavement is badly broken up.  On Connaught, there is a superfluous switch at the start of the single track section that should be removed (it is shown as remaining in the “end state” carhouse layout linked above).

Residents might be excused for thinking that streetcars on any new alignment will be intrusive given the quality of track and associated noise now at Russell.

Of the three alignments discussed here, the Coxwell option passes almost entirely through open space.

Leslie Alternative

Leslie Route

Connaught Alternative (TTC)

Connaught/Knox TTC Route

These photos are included to illustrate the problems with using Connaught as a route to Eastern Avenue, and to document some condition issues that contribute to noise on Connaught itself.

In my “option 1”, this southbound track on Connaught would be used as the inbound access to Ashbridge Carhouse. I agree that this is an unworkable arrangement because of the manner in which it intermixes traffic belonging to Russell with traffic belonging to Ashbridge. It also substantially increases the traffic which must use Connaught.

Russell/Knox Alternative

Russell Knox Route Carhouse Layout

In the diagram linked above, there are a number of points noted.

A:  The points noted are switches that access an obsolete crossover track on Connaught (see above).  These should be removed when the street is rebuilt to eliminate noise and maintenance associated with them.

C:  Tracks to 12 should be designed for future car storage, and should be configured so that cars would leave to the east.

D:  The existing curve linking tracks 8-11 to the westbound exit from the yard would be removed.  It should be noted that in the TTC’s plan, this track curve cannot be accessed from any of the new LRV storage tracks, and is, therefore, obsolete anyhow in their scheme.

E:  Cars leaving the new LRV storage tracks would in the TTC’s plan have the option of existing via the gate just west of the office building, or via the Connaught gate.  Note that any car going west must use Connaught as it is impossible to use the west gate from tracks designated for new cars.

The tracks linking the north end of the yard to Queen at this location (bothways) would be eliminated.

F-F:  The existing connection at Queen and Vancouver would be reconfigured to a “T” intersection comparable to what is already in place at Connaught.  At Eastern Avenue, a pair of tracks would swing west as the link to Ashbridge Carhouse rather than east to the existing ladder track in the north curb lane.

Tracks 22-24 at the west end of the yard would be taken for the through connection from Queen Street. There are a few houses immediately west of the yard on the north half of the site.  The buildings at Queen are commercial, not residential.  The south half is bounded by a small grassed area with trees as will be shown below.

TTC staff claims that this arrangement would require “re-grading/major reconstruction” of Russell Yard.  As the work would be confined entirely to the west end of the site, and there are already tracks in this area, this is difficult to credit.

Also, TTC staff raise concerns about the noise of cars turning onto Queen from these new tracks.  In the scheme with double track in this area, this would place a “T” intersection at Queen and Vancouver similar to the one now proposed for Queen and Leslie.  If this will be a nuisance at Vancouver, it will also be one at Leslie.  It should be noted that there is already noise at Queen/Vancouver from cars using the existing west yard access.

A “runaround track” is normally kept clear to allow cars to circle the yard. Philip Webb (and my “option 1”) proposes that this be the northbound egress from Ashbridge Carhouse. As TTC staff noted, only if the runaround track were relocated to the west end of the yard can we avoid complex special work where an east-to-north curve would cross the fan of the ladder track.

Use of the runaround track would require that all outbound moves pass through carhouse trackage to reach Queen Street, and there could be conflicts between local operations at Russell and the need for unimpeded access from Ashbridge to Queen. I agree that the link to Ashbridge should be maintained operationally independent of tracks used for Russell Carhouse.

At the new carhouse site (the last photo in the series) signal controls are definitely required at this location to permit streetcars to cross Lake Shore Boulevard, the north sidewalk and two bike lanes (one on each side of Lake Shore).

Although the TTC used a north-east access in one of their schemes, they prefer to keep the access at the south-west corner for future use by service on Commissioners Street.

Coxwell Alternative

Coxwell TTC Route

The TTC presumes that a route from Coxwell would run in the middle of Lake Shore, and that it would enter at the southwest corner of the site.  However, if this is changed to side-of-road running on the south side of Lake Shore, and the entry is at the northeast corner (as in the Russell/Knox scheme above), then several of the problems cited for the Coxwell alignment disappear.