ontario line

City of Toronto promises to learn from Eglinton Crosstown LRT when building Ontario Line

After the absolute nightmare of more than a decade of construction on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT — which is still somehow not yet open to the public — the City of Toronto is hoping Metrolinx will learn from its past mistakes when embarking on its next monster of a project, the Ontario Line subway.

Cutting 15.6 km across the city from Exhibition Place to the current Science Centre, the 15-stop line will require an unfathomable amount of work, from building condos as part of transit-oriented communities around select stations to excavating tunnels and brand new stops around extremely busy key intersections, shutting them down for years.

With work expected to wrap up in 2031, the transit agency is gearing up for not just the work, but the flurry of public complaints that are bound to pour in as a result of it, which staff should be experts at fielding by now after so many years of people bemoaning the interruptions and inconveniences caused by ongoing Crosstown Eglinton construction.

A City subcommittee on the project this week finalized a series of recommendations for Metrolinx to keep in mind during the process, ranging from developing community benefit plans and creating job opportunities to forming construction liaison committees to ensure "inclusive and meaningful two-way communication regarding the Ontario Line."

Also mentioned are ways that traffic caused by road closures can be better managed and how the public can be better kept abreast of updates.

There is also a portion that explicitly calls out the LRT and the impacts it had on local establishments that saw decreased foot traffic and business as a result of the chaos that earned Eglinton Avenue the title of the worst street in the city more than once.

Under the Business Supports heading, the committee writes that Metrolinx needs to "meet on a regular basis with Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) and the city’s BIA office to develop business support solutions based on lessons learned from the Eglinton Crosstown LRT to mitigate construction impacts on businesses from the Ontario Line."

This should include, the document states, the creation of a marketing strategy to promote and support local businesses, install improved signage and wayfinding for customers, accommodate consumer parking needs, track economic effects of construction, and more.

As work starts on the Ontario Line this year, the Eglinton LRT isn't set to be ready until sometime in 2024, four years later than initially expected.

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