Railpath expansion coming soon

The railpath expansion includes enhanced on-street connections like Brock Ave. shown above. Illustrations courtesy of regionalArchitects.

West Toronto Railpath extension is coming!

Phase two EA coming to a close

UPDATE: Public meeting on June 23 5:30-8:30 p.m. at 75 Lansdowne Avenue.

by Tammy Thorne

Phase two of the West Toronto Railpath will add another 3.2 km to the beloved linear park that cyclists in this city love so much.

The current 2.1 km section of railpath extends from Dundas Street and Sterling Road north to the Junction. The original railpath plan called for this wonderful, west-end railpath to go all the way downtown to the financial district and help connect cyclists to the lake.

This second phase of the railpath will  head south and connect the existing Dundas Street West terminus with the new pedestrian and cycling bridge at the Fort York national historic site.

This map above from the City of Toronto's website shows the completed section of the railpath and the expansion zone in purple, 'existing' bike lanes and sharrows in red and the green zone is where the new Richmond-Adelaide cycling infrastructure will go. 

Daniel Egan, manager of the City’s cycling programs, says,“Our construction schedule is dependent on Metrolinx finishing work in the corridor - the earliest we can start construction is 2016. The plan is to wrap up the EA this fall and do the detailed design in 2015 for construction to start in 2016.  At this point I don't have a construction completion date - that depends on overall cost and budget availability - but we will have a good idea by the time the EA is completed.”

The railpath will pass through a mix of industrial, commercial and residential neighbourhoods and will serve as the missing link for a network of trails that connects a diverse mix of Toronto neighbourhoods. When connected to the Richmond-Adelaide bikeway, it would represent a a solid bike route of almost 9 km total. Pretty impressive – especially by Toronto’s current standards.

The project will be completed as part of an Environmental Assessment (EA) process that involves an extensive range of stakeholder engagement exercises including design workshops, public open houses and presentations at Toronto’s design review panel.

Railpath users will be able to access (and disembark from) the trail at Brock with the help of added bike infrastructure at the Brock underpass.

 Cross section of the Brock underpass.

Seamless integration with the first phase is a key objective and is considered from all aspects including trail design standards, branding, on-street gateways, and public art. Options for connections to the surrounding network - the Adelaide-Richmond cycle tracks, the Wellington Street bike lanes, the Martin Goodman Trail - are being prepared and evaluated now.

As lead urban designer on a multi-disciplinary team, regionalArchitects is responsible for developing on-street connections - stairs, gateways, ramps, branding, pocket parks, way finding and lighting - as well as integration with the public art, structures and landscape. The actual EA process with the City is being led by Cole Engineering and Victor Ford Associates, with regionalArchitects supporting the project and Montgomery Sisam Architects doing bridge design work.

Group shot of the walking and biking tour held by regionalArchitects for the proposed railpath extension. 

On April 25-27 biking and walking tours were held by regionalArchitects.

Aerial view of one section (Delaney to Brock) of the phase two railpath extenstion.

Right now, you need to carry your bike down the stairs at Brock and Cunningham. It sounds like most stair ways will get troughs for easier access for cyclists, but what about wheelchairs and strollers?

Parkdale is one of the most interesting neighbourhoods in the city -- even though it is devoid of cycling infrastructure we still like it a lot. The railpath will provide a fantastic connection to other nearby neighbourhoods for Parkdalians and allow people coming from further west to visit Parkdale by bike more easily.

This cool building above has a thought (or speech) bubble hanging sign attached to the top.

West Lodge Towers as seen from Cunningham Avenue, with an underused parking garage.

The group crossed through the West Lodge Towers to Cunningham to examine one of the on-street connection locations.

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"Positively No Playing." But don't worry, there's a school and a park just west of the towers.

A little further north, on Delaney, there are more opportunities for on-street connections.

Aerial view of the Delaney connection.

Above, we see the West Lodge towers from the other side and a lovely community garden starting to bloom! (And some terribly-located gas pipes.) And below we can see one of the many diggers being used to ready the corridor for new rail tracks on the bend on Delaney.

One of the most interesting parts of this expansion involves a ramp-and-bridge structure that will literally form the foundation for the phase two extension, as it will extend out from the Dundas West terminus and slope down east over the Metrolinx rail lines, through the south end of the No Frills parking lot (which Metrolinx has already acquired) and then over Lansdowne to connect to the path on the east side of the tracks. Wow! We think it will look quite magnificent.

Above, architect Paul Kulig explains how the ramp-bridge structure will cross over the No Frills lot and Lansdowne. (We are on the east side of Lansdowne.)

Below, we are on Macdonell (on the west side of Lansdowne) looking north up the tracks towards the Dundas West terminus, where the extension will ramp off to the east.

Paul Kulig of regionalArchitects says the ramp-bridge could offer opportunities to build in “viewing auditoriums” like they have on the High Line in New York.

Ward 14 community members, including those who  use the Wabash community centre and the Sorauren park for events like the farmers market, would REALLY like a connection to the park from the railpath on the west side.

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A lone cyclist heading west towards Sorauren park, above...

Below, looking east across the tracks toward the No Frills we spot the folks from the walking tour, which was happening in tandem with the bike tour.

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Lots of diggers and dozers in the rail corridor. Once Metrolinx is done their work, the railpath construction can get started (likely 2016.)

The next – and final – public meeting for this phase of expansion with be in June with an exact date yet TBA.

Here we are as a group, below, near the end of the phase two portion on Noble at Queen (near Dufferin.)

Related on the dandyBLOG:

City announces plan to extend railpath

dandyCommute: Junction Triangle to Richmond and Spadina

Introducing Ward 14 advocacy group

You complete me: Compete Streets

 

 

 

 

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3 responses to “Railpath expansion coming soon”

  1. Ben says:

    Great. Looks lovely. But could they not make more of an effort to CONNECT the purple zone with the green zone? This is the bane of current bike infrastructure in the city: it is piecemeal. You have a great bike path along the western waterfront, for example, then boom — several kilometres of stop-and-go Queens Quay hell before you get back again. Improvements are great, but they always seem to be not quite getting it.

    • Dave says:

      I agree this is frustrating, especially the portion along queens quay right now. Although it looks like they are nearly finished, I still can’t seem to figure out the “alternate bike route” in that area. bah.

  2. Peter says:

    Looks great. Just one correction on the lead photo – it’s Brock AVENUE not Street.

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