After reviewing the West Toronto Railpath extension at a City Hall meeting, it was clear to all stakeholders that the most cost effective plan was to extend the path south, in a linear manner. The meeting, held mid-May, included representatives and several members from Cycle Toronto, Friends of the West Toronto Railpath, and The Toronto Bicycling Network (TBN).
Jeremy Craig from the Victor Ford & Associates architectural firm went over the proposed plans. In all cases, where there were issues of using side roads that skirted the railway corridor, it became obvious to continue in as linear a manner as possible.
With the extension in a linear direction, there will be extra land available in the railway corridor. This extra space will allow the project to more closely adhere to the rail corridor.
Because the extension will be included in their wards, Ward 18 and 19 councillors Ana Bailao and Mike Layton and members of their staff attended the meeting.
Daniel Egan and Saikat Basak, from Transportation Services, helped guide some of the discussion by giving background information. Also in attendance was Metrolinx’s Manuel Pedrosa, manager and community relations for the Georgetown South Project. Pedrosa's input included details on bridges and land availability.
At Dufferin, there is more land available than originally anticipated, allowing for an easier connection across Queen St. W. A minor complicating factor is that Metrolinx will eventually be adding one more bridge at the Queen and Dufferin junction and this could be a few years after the Railpath bridge is built.
A further complication is that a new park is being built on the east side of Dufferin, north of the tracks. So the Railpath bridge must not impede Metrolinx's designed but not yet built bridge, while also not affecting or taking up too much space from the new park.
The Railpath continues along the south side of Queen St., where Metrolinx will include a crossing for its maintenance vehicles. This crossing will have asphalt treatments to designate this potential hazard.
Eventually, the rail corridor gets too narrow to continue the path in this area, so it exits onto Sudbury Street. The meeting determined linearity would be the simplest and most cost effective means to continue the path, as opposed to having it interfere with a bunch of side streets.
But the city will have to negotiate with the condo association that owns a parking lot that borders the corridor. The Railpath needs about a six-metre-wide stretch of the parking lot, which will allow the path to get to King St.
The final bridge that needs to be built, crosses King St. and connects the path to the proposed bike lanes on Douro St.. The bike lanes will continue through a signalized intersection at Strachan and connect to a new pedestrian bridge that will connect to the waterfront trail, as well as the existing bike lanes on Strachan.
If everything goes as expected with the Environmental Assessment (EA), construction could start as early as 2016 on this project.
Metrolinx planned electrification of this corridor in 2017 will not interfere with construction or close the Railpath.
The last Commencement and Public Open House meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, 23 June at the Parkdale Community Centre, 75 Lansdowne Ave, just north of Queen St. W. The public can then see these plans, and make final comments and recommendations.
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