davenport diamond toronto

A major Toronto transit project is actually moving quickly for once

When one thinks of transit construction, Toronto's extended Eglinton Crosstown LRT saga and its multiple missed deadlines are likely among the first thoughts that come to mind.

But not every transit project moves at a snail's pace in this town, as construction speeds along for a new elevated rail line that will soon support trains speeding above the cityscape west of downtown.

It's a very different story with Metrolinx's Davenport Diamond guideway project, new elevated rail infrastructure primed to eliminate a bottleneck where the Barrie GO passenger corridor meets the CP rail tracks.

This grade-level diamond rail intersection — one of the busiest in North America — has long limited GO's expansion plans, and its replacement is a key element in Metrolinx's broader network expansion project.

It's through this project that Toronto is starting to learn the obvious benefits of elevated rail. As has been proven in cities like Vancouver and Chicago, elevated rail can move passengers just as efficiently as a tunnelled system, at a fraction of the price of tunnelled systems.

Even more apparent is the speed of construction, which Metrolinx has used to benefit public relations through time-lapse videos that show the infrastructure materialize.

Unlike buried rail systems, the public can see the project come together in plain view from streets and surrounding rooftops, where the rapid pace of the guideway's construction can be appreciated by all.

The guideway is constructed with prefabricated elements, allowing individual sections to be installed every 36 hours. In comparison, tunnel boring machines for the new Eglinton Crosstown West LRT extension will carve out about 10 to 15 metres of tunnel section per day at much greater cost.

Aside from the guideway's purpose in relieving congestion and implementing all-day, two-way service on the Barrie GO corridor, it will reconnect neighbourhoods long disconnected by rail tracks, with a new linear park planned to reunite communities beneath the guideway.

But not everyone is thrilled with the massive infrastructure project, and Metrolinx has faced resistance along the way from communities affected by overnight construction noise and other temporary inconveniences.

In 2021, caisson drilling in the area of Dupont and Lansdowne had local residents up all hours of the night, as the provincial government's extension of construction hours for essential projects back in April 2020 allowed work to continue until 3 a.m for months.

An area resident told blogTO at the time that "it has been pretty brutal," explaining that with work ongoing "20 hours a day, it was hard. At a certain point, I learned how to stuff my ears."

Construction of the guideway is expected to wrap up in the spring, an impressive feat considering work just began in the fall of 2019.

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert

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