A Yonge Street express subway has now been proposed for Toronto
Imagine hopping on a subway train along the eastern half of Toronto's big "U" and riding it all the way up to Richmond Hill, no transfers required, and in record time.
Many have floated the idea of an express line running along Yonge Street since the TTC's birth, but not until now has anyone gotten serious enough about such a project to actually lobby the city for a chance to build it.
As journalist Matt Elliot points out in the latest edition of his City Hall Watcher newsletter, an underground infrastructure engineer named Gary Benner registered as a lobbyist with the City of Toronto on December 23 in an effort to construct a new Yonge Street Express Subway.
That's right — a new subway, not an extension of the old one.
Toronto transit nerds might be interested in this consulting pitch for an express Yonge subway that runs parallel to the existing Yonge line, up to Richmond Hill. They've got tech specs here: https://t.co/GeTWRqawnp— ℳatt (@matttomic) January 7, 2020
Is it a pipe dream? Oh, probably, yeah. pic.twitter.com/xedJiRAw4z
Benner, through his company Underground Consulting Ltd., is proposing "26 kilometres of all new subway line from Yonge St. at Lake Shore Blvd. to Major MacKenzie Dr. in Richmond Hill."
This would be done by "twinning" the existing subway running along Yonge Street, with connections between the old and new lines available at Davisville and York Mills Stations.
Should all go well, there's even a potential to expand the new subway line down to the Toronto Islands.
"The latest operating technology can be used for the new Express line without being encumbered by existing outdated signaling and driver operation. It could be full subway or LRT style," reads the proposal on Underground Consulting Incorporated's website.
"All new tunnel construction is within existing right-of-ways – no property is required," it continues. "There is minimal impact on residents and businesses for such a major project."
Holy subway fantasy! Twinning Yonge line to provide express service from Richmond Hill, with possible extension to Toronto Islands? (According to proposing firm, TBMs could be just abandoned once they get to the island).— Daniel Rotsztain (@theurbangeog) January 7, 2020
Via @GraphicMatt's always fantastic @CityHallWatcher pic.twitter.com/b9UFhqYbKV
Because the existing Yonge Street subway is offset from Yonge Street itself, Benner says there would be no conflict, though there would be "some utility and sewer relocations involved."
Boring activity would also require some serious, years-long road closures throughout the city.
"Tunnel construction will require the closing of the Yonge St. and Lake Shore Blvd. intersection for approximately 3 years so the right-of-ways can be used for tunnel and station construction," reads the proposal. "This will be disruptive and push a lot of traffic to Queen’s Quay but there is no other option in constructing a Downtown Express Station."
Yonge would similarly need to be closed for roughly three years south of Davisville Avenue, and traffic would be restricted for the same amount of time on Yonge north of the Don River Bridge and south of Steeles Avenue.
It's an interesting idea, and one that, if executed properly, could very well help to relieve some of the chronic congestion Toronto is experiencing on Line 1 of the TTC subway system.
I had this idea of express subways last night and thought about it for a while until I realized the same thing could be achieved quicker and cheaper with fare integration, electrification and expansion of GO service https://t.co/Qlvge8ANMx— Graeme W Anderson 🚶♂️🚲🚃 (@graemewa) January 7, 2020
Some critics are concerned that it would be a much larger, if not impossible, endeavour than it appears to be at first glance.
"If it were actually possible to twin the Yonge line, something along these lines (but not with these weird stations - no Sheppard?) is exactly what we need," wrote one. "But it's almost certainly not possible."
"Because the world is crying out for a subway to the Toronto Islands! Meanwhile, by Hoggs Hollow do they mean York Mills?" wrote another. "This thing is going to stop at York Mills but not Sheppard? Of all the asinine transit plans..."
Others still, however, see promise in the plan from Underground Consulting, which also built the pedestrian tunnel running underwater from downtown Toronto to Billy Bishop Airport (among other major projects.)
"I've often thought this would be a great idea to have express and local tracks on the Yonge line (sort of like NYC subway)," noted one local transit buff. "Pretty hard to do it after the fact but certainly possible!"
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