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Traffic set to clog as Eglinton East LRT work begins

Posted by Derek Flack / March 21, 2014

Eglinton Crosstown LRT constructionThe patience of Toronto commuters is about to be tested in a major way on Eglinton Avenue East as construction begins on the eastern section of the Crosstown LRT. Prior to this point, crews have been plugging away at the western portion of the line, which has already led to major backups in places like the foot of Allen Rd. It's all about to get a whole lot worse this spring. While it's crucial that we all think long term about infrastructure projects like this one, here's a little glimpse of the pain in store if Eglinton is a route that you frequent.

- Daily lane reductions are already in place between Laird and Leslie as construction crews prepare to install an excavation shaft.

- In early April, construction will begin on Laird Station, causing more closures in the immediate area for approximately eight months.

- That will be followed by station construction at Bayview and Mount Pleasant, with the former needing an emergency exit that will take two years to complete.

- Most impactful of all, when the tunnel boring machines arrive at Brentcliffe to dig west, traffic will be reduced to one lane in either direction for over two years.

- When the machines are finally extracted at Yonge St., it's difficult to say just what a nightmare it'll be, but think apocalyptic.

I recall driving on Sheppard numerous times during the construction of that subway line. It was really bad. This will be worse. But, we can all take solace in the fact that the Crosstown will have far more positive and lasting effects on easing congestion in the decades to come. So pop a mouthguard in the glovebox and you won't grind your teeth down in the meantime. The Eglinton Crosstown LRT is expected to begin service in 2020.



Rob Ford / March 21, 2014 at 10:12 am
Would have been a lot less of a hassle if we just installed a monorail. Or a ferris wheel.

Or what about just giving everyone some crack?
RonNasty64 / March 21, 2014 at 10:21 am
A series of Zip-lines would have been cheaper and a heck of a lot more fun, but the line-ups would be worse than Tim Hortons.
Mike / March 21, 2014 at 10:31 am
I live in this area and I'm not looking forward to it. Short term pain for long term gain. It won't last forever and I know I'll be using it when it's finally done.
Francisco / March 21, 2014 at 10:32 am
I still don't understand why TTC is not moving the buses that go through Eglinton Av. to another street(s). OR, why the city is not taking away the regular traffic from Eglinton and leave only the TTC there.
Somebody has to regulate the way the traffic will work there. There won't be enough space for both TTC, taxis and cars. There isn't already.
Vinnie / March 21, 2014 at 10:33 am
"The taxpayers of this great city want SUBWAYS, folks. Subways, subways, subways. Subways, subways! Subways. Subways, subways. Subways, subways, subways. Subways, subways! Subways. Subways, subways. Subways, subways, subways. Subways, subways! Subways. Subways, subways. Subways, subways, subways. Subways, subways! Subways. Subways, subways. Subways, subways, subways. Subways, subways! Subways. Subways, subways. Subways, subways, subways. Subways, subways! Subways. Subways, subways. Subways, subways, subways. Subways, subways! Subways. Subways, subways. Subways, subways, subways. Subways, subways! Subways. Subways, subways. Subways, subways, subways. Subways, subways! Subways. Subways, subways. Subways, subways, subways. Subways, subways! Subways. Subways, subways. SUBWAYS!" - Rob Ford (verbatim quote)
iSkyscraper / March 21, 2014 at 10:41 am
All transit construction sucks (all modes, including elevated ones), but so what, without it you get nothing.

After all, how inconvenient for drivers was this little bit of work? Would anyone take it back now?

The only way to avoid the pain is to cheat and not build transit under or on the street it supposedly serves. Toronto did this a couple times, first with Yonge north of St. Clair and then again with much of the Bloor line. Clever trick.

If they ever manage to do the right thing and get the Eglinton LRT out to the airport they can build the whole thing off to the side on the Richview Expressway lands. Would be a piece of cake.
Frankly / March 21, 2014 at 10:46 am
Traffic problems would not have been so bad if they'd built the thing 20 years ago like they were supposed to. Mike Harris... dumbest Premier ever.
Stew / March 21, 2014 at 11:01 am
The tunnels will flow with gravy and Prince Igor! I can't wait!
Terry / March 21, 2014 at 11:06 am
This project should have been built 20 years ago (but was cancelled), so we can all "suck it up" now and finally get this badly-needed infrastructure.
TheVok / March 21, 2014 at 11:28 am
Um, everyone knows it IS underground, right? Yes, there will be hassles, but for most intents and purposes, this line is a subway.
gonzo / March 21, 2014 at 11:44 am
Wish it was all underground. The dedicated lane is going to suck hard on Eglinton east.

But the underground part? It's going to be worth the hassle. In the end she's going to be a vixen chalked full of hubba hubba.
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from gonzo / March 21, 2014 at 12:06 pm
Why will that suck? It's taking the place of the lane that is today reserved for buses and taxis.

At some point we have to stop living in Rob Ford fantasy land (all transit underground for free, and all surface pavement for cars only) and start building transit the way the rest of the world builds transit, unless you prefer to end up with zero. Eglinton Crosstown is exactly how the rest of the world does it -- underground in the denser parts, then on the surface in the less dense, more suburban fringes. LA Gold Line, Boston Green Line, Septa Subway-Surface Trolley, Edmonton LRT, Seattle LINK, Ottawa Confederation Line.... need I go on?
BobNRae replying to a comment from Frankly / March 21, 2014 at 12:14 pm
You must be a teacher. Every time I hear them moan it is complain about Mike Harris. He stopped the Eg West subway because it only went west from Allen Road straight into the heart of Socialist Bob, or liberal Bob, or whateverheisnow Bob's riding.
mike replying to a comment from Rob Ford / March 21, 2014 at 12:52 pm
I am 35 just got my first car and people need to realize driving is a privilege a luxury these days the rights belong to all of us and as the city grows so must transit thems the breaks kiddies... and remember friends don't let friends vote ford
Ms Manners replying to a comment from mike / March 21, 2014 at 01:18 pm
But please help your friends speak and write coherently.
gonzo replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / March 21, 2014 at 01:24 pm
How much bigger is and more densely trafficed is toronto than all the cities you mentioned?

The problem with dedicated lanes in Toronto is that the streets aren't big enough to accommodate them.

If you're one of the 8 people on the St. Clair streetcar during the day, it's a great ride. If you're a car, it sucks.

Going underground is a solution that benefits both car and transit. It's the best way to do it. Have you driven around Eglinton and Vic Park? Or Eglinton and Don Mills? It's a traffic s*it show during rush hour. The last thing we need to do is a lose a lane.

And no, they aren't dedicated currently to busses and taxi's, they're HOV and that's only from 3-7. So putting in the streetcar kills the entire lane all the time - which sucks.
Poopdawg replying to a comment from gonzo / March 21, 2014 at 02:24 pm
Spend some time driving around Edmonton during rush hour some time and then get back to me about how she doesn't have dense traffic. I think you'd be quite surprised.
W. K. Lis replying to a comment from Francisco / March 21, 2014 at 02:29 pm
Downtown Toronto at least has a grid pattern of streets, of a sort. Out in suburbia, is cul-de-sacs, crescents, unconnected, and mazes of streets, that prevent that.
soooo replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / March 21, 2014 at 02:52 pm
Do you ever even drive on Eglinton?

The diamond lane is only in service during rush hour periods and if my memory serves me correctly it ends at Leslie. So no diamond lane from Leslie to Laird which is always ram jammed with traffic.

Keep your criticism separate - you don't like a city that isn't planned well for transit cool, but demonstrating you don't know about the road and its conditions doesn't do you any service.
soooo replying to a comment from gonzo / March 21, 2014 at 02:53 pm
well said, too bad i wrote my reply before reading yours.
ecoke4lyfe replying to a comment from iSkyscraper / March 21, 2014 at 03:14 pm
Hey mate, I live in Ottawa right now, and that's not exactly how the Confederation Line is going to work.

They're tunnelling and putting in three underground stations through Centretown/Lowertown. The surface line you speak of that supposedly runs on the surface through the suburbs is just train tracks their placing over the existing BRT line that runs through neighbourhoods like Sandy Hill, Hintonburg, and Westboro, which are mostly pre 1960s. It's basically involving replacing an already-working dedicated busway without any traffic lights and not on any public street whatsoever with a rail line. The final result will look, act, and be nothing like Eglinton East.
RealityChek / March 21, 2014 at 03:40 pm
For those of you who want to get a taste of what it is like to ride a 25 year old RT, hop on the Scarborough line. It seems to only travel at about 40 km/h max. Any faster, and it screeches incredibly loudly and the back cars fishtail so much that one wonders when a derailment will happen. At this time, it is no faster than a bus (and it is incapacitated in snowstorms).

RTs cost double the amount to maintain as a subway line, and have less than half the longevity. If we go through all this disruption for a construction project on transit, why not just do it for a transit mode that lasts for at least one generation.
tommy replying to a comment from gonzo / March 21, 2014 at 03:49 pm
iSkyscraper may not be intimately familiar with Don Mills and Eglinton, but you CERTAINLY have no realistic concept of bad traffic if you think Toronto is any worse than the cities listed!

As for the benefits of going underground - you speak of the operational benefits, but have no concept of the fiscal limitations or design requirements! Underground transit costs money. Lots of money. And if you can't fill those trains, the rest of the system is left to pay the balance. It is NOT FAIR that riders and taxpayers in other areas of the city subsidize YOUR fare! If underground transit was such a logical idea, we'd have built it under every concession road in the entire city!

As for the benefits of surface transit - traveling rail at grade connects people to the community more and encourages growth along the line. Look at every avenue with a streetcar line downtown. Expect to see major development along the Golden Mile in the coming years, as people realize the convenience of jumping off the LRT to go to a shop. Buried transit doesn't see this kind of development - for example, the Sheppard line. Lots of condos, yet no street-scape or ridership. Buried transit on the Golden Mile would result in tiny sub-LRT entrances, next to gigantic parking lots, next to big box stores, MILES away from any residential ridership.

Finally, traffic isn't getting any better in the city. Burying transit isn't going to solve the overcrowding problems on our roads caused by increasing numbers of entitled car drivers. Add a lane, remove a lane - it doesn't matter. Inevitably transit will rule.
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from ecoke4lyfe / March 21, 2014 at 03:58 pm
OK, getting beat up here a bit. Toronto is a great place and still has (relatively) terrific transit. The narrow streets are a challenge but neanderthal thinking is the bigger obstacle. The city could do better if only the meddling politicians (and their none-too-bright supporters) would get out of the way of getting more built.

I was referring to best practices being that you use tunnel sections for LRT in downtown conditions only - obviously each city is different in terms of how it manages the non-tunnel sections in terms of medians or off-street or elevated. So, yes, Ottawa and Edmonton and some of the other cities I mentioned are different in that regard. (Boston might be the most similar). But the point is that you cannot bury everything or you will get nothing due to the cost. This is the precise reason why exactly zero LRT lines exist anywhere in the world that are fully underground. It defeats the entire purpose of the technology, which is what makes it affordable in the first place.

The Eglinton crosstown is the right design and it will work out in the end. The knee-jerk reactions will fade over time, especially as the corridor densifies and adapts. The fact that someone is trying to dredge out the old lies about St. Clair shows how much damage the low-intellect Fordist crowd has done, but it too will one day recede from view.

No one is losing a normal lane of traffic -- the LRT will exit east of Brentcliffe, and I expect Eglinton to be widened from there to Leslie where it picks up the existing additional width.

Yes, the bus/taxi (and HOV, though rarely used as such) are part-time so you could say you are losing a lane at 2 pm or on a Saturday morning but traffic engineers are not stupid. Perhaps it might be better to trust them over an uneducated and boorish "mayor" who tells you that "streetcars" are bad.

PS - Boston, Philly and SF easily match Eglinton Ave for density, and then some. Hell, try London (Croydon Tramlink). Enough already.
jen replying to a comment from gonzo / March 21, 2014 at 04:14 pm
I live on St. Clair, and that right of way streetcar has revitalized the area in so many ways. Lots of new restaurants and shops have opened up, and I know this because I CAN SEE THEM FROM THE SURFACE RAIL CAR. If I was underground, I wouldn't know what was going on up top. As it is now, I can hop off the streetcar and check out something new and wonderful once I spot it. Perhaps car drivers should try out transit once in a while.
iSkyscraper replying to a comment from RealityChek / March 21, 2014 at 05:06 pm
Not sure why you are dragging an obsolete Light Metro into this discussion. The Scarborough RT is not LRT. It is not a subway. It is an ICTS or MCS, represented in modern form by the Vancouver Skytrain or the JFK Airport AirTrain. No one is insane enough to suggest a fifth mode of rail transit when Toronto already is pursuing four (heavy rail, metro, light rail, streetcar).

The "reality" is that the Scarborough RT was supposed to have been an LRT in the beginning before political meddling wasted a ton of money changing it to something dimwits thought was better (sound familiar?). Had it been built as planned, with an elevated streetcar spreading out to surface extensions all over Scarborough we would be celebrating it today as a forward-thinking success instead of having to tear it down as an example of a political boondoggle.

The myth that I think you were trying to make is that an LRT is somehow more costly than a subway and is less durable. These arguments are based on the concept of $ per passenger-mile, which assumes full capacity. Which you would not have if you built a subway in a suburban location where the numbers did not justify it. You might as well argue for putting an elevated GO train down Eglinton instead, since it's costs per passenger-mile are even lower than a subway, right? Each mode has its place and the Eglinton Crosstown has been tailored to fit. It's only true flaw is not having surface LRT on the west end to cheaply get to the airport before we all die waiting for it.

I was born in Scarborough and lived near Eglinton Ave for twenty years. But that's not why I feel it necessary to opine. I'm just tired of entertaining this uneducated crap about LRT one moment longer.
McRib replying to a comment from gonzo / March 21, 2014 at 05:42 pm
you mean 32,400 riders. Not 8, but 32,400 daily riders Monday to Friday. thirty two thousand four hundred.

Unless you mean that the St. Clair line isn't packed at 11am on a wednesday, so how dare they take away lanes from cars? Sorry, but the average daily number of cars (over a 24 hour period) on St. Clair seems to fluctuate along its route, but is in the region of 20-30,000, only reaching 30,000 at major intersections.

Clearly more people take transit along St. Clair than drive, hence the transit riders deserve their own lanes.

If you have to resort to hyperbole to get your argument across, you've lost the argument.
stopitman / March 21, 2014 at 05:57 pm
Toronto 101

1. Complain about lack of infrastructure, especially in suburbs
2. Complain about taxes, especially in the suburbs
3. Finally decide to build something (probably subpar option)
4. Change it 3-4 times because a councillor/mayor wants to show consituents they have a big penis
5. Complain about construction for said project
6. ???
7. Profit!
J / March 21, 2014 at 09:34 pm
For those folks complaining about a loss of a lane due to dedicated LRT - it's planned that way. The idea is to move people out of there cars - and into those LRTs. Each LRT can hold something like 250 people as planned - ideally that's 250 cars off the road for each LRT in the long term - and hopefully less road congestion in the end. And if you're sitting in your car, staring at LRT's or Streetcars going by - park your car, and get in one.
RM / March 22, 2014 at 12:00 pm
I'm sure it won't take so long (said the man still waiting for the Queens Quay debacle to be finished)
Ross / March 22, 2014 at 12:25 pm
How long until this one needs replacement like the Scarborough one? 20 years? Total waste of money
James Kelso / March 22, 2014 at 12:48 pm
The young woman riding up the hill caught my eye. By that point on that hill, I'd be standing up on the peddles, to get everything, into every stroke, or I'd be pushing the bike up the hill.
Liar Liar Pants on Fire replying to a comment from Ross / March 22, 2014 at 11:16 pm
Ross, do you work for Doug Ford? Because you seem to like lying a lot. SRT not equal LRT not equal streetcar. Duh.
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