A month-long street renovation project will begin this month on a major downtown artery to make way for the expected start of construction on the Ontario Line.
Work on the new tube line is expected to start in 2023 and will require the long-term closure of a section of Queen Street near the Eaton Centre.
Because of that work, streetcars will need to be diverted along Richmond and Adelaide between York and Church streets for at least five years.
Starting this month, the city will begin work on reinstating the tram tracks in Adelaide between Charlotte and York streets to make that happen.
It’s essentially the first of what could be a series of disruptions for downtown residents as part of work on the 15.6-kilometer Ontario Line.
At the same time, the city will replace a hundred-year-old water main that runs the length of Adelaide between York and Victoria streets.
The cycle track in Adelaide will also be moved from the south to the north side of the street between Bathurst and Parliament streets to reduce the need for cyclists and commercial vehicles to share space in that area.
The works are expected to last between four and five months and finish in December.
Once construction begins, the travel lanes will be reduced to a shared eastbound lane on Adelaide Street within the active work zones. Bicyclists wishing to continue through the work area should merge with vehicular traffic in those areas or dismount and walk.
According to the city, the work will be done 24 hours a day, seven days a week to expedite the project.
The loudest work, concrete breaking, will occur between 7 am and 11 pm and is expected to last the first few days of each construction phase.
INCONVENIENT BUT NECESSARY CONSTRUCTION: COUNCILMAN
While many residents may cringe when they hear about construction, Spadina Fort York Councilman Joe Mihevc says such projects are, in fact, a sign of a healthy city.
“The only thing worse than all this development is that it doesn’t happen,” Mihevc told CP24.com in an interview.
“Too bad the city doesn’t see any construction and doesn’t have to complain about construction-related delays and issues because that’s a city that’s stalling.”
Noting that “Toronto is booming,” Mihevc said that about a quarter of the 24,000 new housing units recently approved by the Toronto City Council are in his neighborhood.
Having been a downtown councilman for nearly three decades before being appointed to temporarily fill a vacancy left by the resignation of Joe Cressy, Mihevc has a long memory and recalls a time when revitalizing the city’s waterfront was just a dream.
“The boardwalk is now a desired place. People are flocking there and they want to shop there and they want to live near there,” she said. “And, relative to what we’re talking about, that’s why you need to reconfigure a bunch of systems.”
When complete, the new Ontario Line will eventually connect the Ontario Science Center near Eglinton Avenue and Don Mills Road with Exhibition Place on the waterfront, with two stops along King Street, at Corktown and King and Bathurst, and four stops along Queen Street in Moss. Park, Yonge Street, University Avenue and Spadina.
But there will be some pain for residents in the meantime. In fact, a city staff report released in 2021 warned that travel times along several downtown arteries could increase by as much as 29 minutes between 2022 and 2029 while construction takes place on six new stations. Ontario line.
While necessary, Mihevc acknowledges that construction can be inconvenient and said he well remembers the pain of Midtown residents when the St. Clair right-of-way project was underway.
“First, the TTC wanted to just renovate their runway. And then other divisions, departments and agencies say ‘we want to participate’.
He said the city has gotten better since then at trying to coordinate multiple tasks to minimize disruption and that’s why they’re doing Watermain’s job while replacing streetcar tracks.
“There’s nothing worse than the complaint you get from residents that ‘oh, they were here last year and they dug a hole and they’re here again this year digging another hole.’ So this is trying to get it right and trying to coordinate all the utilities and all the services and get it right once,” he said.
With bike lanes, a fast one-way route to the Don Valley Parkway, and a growing number of large condominium towers, Mihevc called Adelaide “an unsung hero” that “has a lot of utility and a lot of uses.”
He said communication with area residents and businesses has already begun and will continue to be a key part of the process.
Emails were sent to area residents last month to inform them of the project, and a virtual town hall was held on July 21.
At that meeting, some residents raised concerns about bicyclists having to merge into vehicular traffic, something city staff said they would look into to see where improvements could be made.
“There has been a public consultation coordinator who has brought people together, so it has been well socialized,” Mihevc said. “People know that and maybe that’s part of the learning from previous construction projects.”
He added that when the bike lane is complete, “you’re going to see basically state-of-the-art bike facilities” that include features such as signs and grade separation.
VIRTUAL ‘TRAILER’ MEETINGS TO BE HELD THROUGHOUT
During work, there may also be temporary water outages, but the city says they will send out notices in advance, except in an emergency.
Pedestrian access will continue during construction, but there may be detours to accommodate some of the work.
While Adelaide is used as a popular way to cross the city center, the city advises travelers with no destinations in the area to avoid Adelaide Street altogether during the construction period.
The city says it will hold virtual ‘trailer’ meetings every other Monday from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., beginning Aug. 29 so members of the public can ask questions and share concerns about the work in progress.
Work on the Ontario Line is currently scheduled for completion in 2028.