Toronto will soon get a streetcar line serving brand-new artificial waterfront island
Villiers Island may be quickly taking shape as part of the $1.25 billion Don Mouth Naturalization and Port Lands Flood Protection project, but its streetcar line is still somewhere off on the distant horizon.
However, things are indeed moving along behind the scenes.
The TTC, City, and Waterfront Toronto are making progress on the planned Waterfront East Light Rail Transit (WELRT) route, which will move passengers from Union Station to Villiers Island along Queens Quay East and the soon-to-be-realigned Cherry Street.
Waterfront Toronto updated the public on the latest advancement for the new WELRT line on Wednesday, including details on a now-confirmed route through Villiers Island that expands on previous plans to terminate the line in a loop at Polson Street.
A loop through the new Villiers Island neighbourhood is the result of a Waterfront Toronto study seeking ways to improve transit access to the parks and other spaces spread around the landform, while also mitigating construction impacts to the new riverbed and shaving project costs.
The planned Polson Loop will remain part of the plan, though it will likely be realized at a later date as the community comes into its own.
Meanwhile, the project is still working through the preliminary design and engineering stages for the on-street portion of the project that will run in a dedicated right-of-way along Queens Quay East between Bay Street and the shifted Cherry Street, and continue on Cherry from the existing Distillery Loop south into Villiers Island.
This portion is to be linked to Union via the existing Harbourfront LRT tunnel – the one drivers constantly wind up stuck in — which would require modifications and an extension to a new eastbound portal from the foot of Bay Street.
If you're expecting to see shovels in the ground immediately, please remember that this is Toronto, and it never works like that here.
A public consultation will take place this spring seeking public feedback on the design, and a (hopefully finalized) plan will be presented to City Council in mid-2023, bringing the streetcar route just a bit closer to its long-awaited construction.
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