Tonight was the long awaited final public consultation on the West Toronto Railpath extension. This followed a public meeting that was almost a full year ago. I’m very happy to report that the revisions to the design are almost all positive.
Here is a sign summarizing what has happened since that last public meeting.The main points were that there was overwhelming support for the project to go forward, and that the design review panel urged all stakeholders to work together to provide more land to improve the routing of the railpath extension.
The changes in the details of the proposed route were mostly worth the wait.
These have now been discounted in favour of a straight line down to the rail path.
The section at A-A shows a ramp coming down from the south side of the Sterling/Dundas intersection to the extension of the rail path that comes straight under the Dundas St. bridge from the existing path. During the Q&A, Liz raised the issue of an earlier proposal to extend the rail path from the spot where Jenna Morrison was killed, across Sterling parallel along the north side of Dundas, and then across a bike only bridge to get over the Barrie rail line, and potentially also connecting to the end of College St. Dan Egan said that this was discarded as a scenario to extend the rail path, but was still being considered to improve safety in this whole area.
The next panel shows the bridge across the Newmarket/Barrie line, including nice renderings of the bridge. All slopes will be less than 1 in 20 so that they will meet wheelchair accessibility standards. There is also access from the bridge to the No Frills area. Although another bridge to Roncy was beyond the scope of this project, we were told that the design of the bridge will take into account the possibility of such a bridge in the future.
The original map from last year showed various on street routes to go around the Dufferin/Queen intersection, including short sections of Peel and Gladstone.
Thankfully some right of ways have been opened up so that the Railpath can now be extended along the railway corridor instead.
Just to the right of this section, the Railpath continues alongside Sudbury St. Referring to section I-I in the above map, the cross section shows a multi use trail somewhat buffered from the street by landscaping.
Further along Sudbury St, the path follows the street and veers away from the rail corridor. There is a dashed line on one of the above maps that shows a future “possibility” of continuing instead along the rail corridor, but this depends on more working out of right of way.
In particular, 99 Sudbury is a building that blocks the direct path, but it is slated for development (i.e. demolition), and it is possible that a future project will allow clearance for the Railpath. To the right of this map, there are sharrows along Sudbury street.
Sudbury St. terminates at King, and here the planners freely admit that the details of the on street bike paths are not final. In particular, I am not enthusiastic about the bidirectional bike path proposed for the south side of Douro. Didn’t we just go through the exercise of going away from bi directional bike paths on Harbord? Joey also had an issue with routing west bound cyclists through the Shaw/King intersection which is crisscrossed with streetcar tracks.‘
Here is a clever visual aid to show people the proposed width of the Railpath, 3.5m, which is equal to the present section. There is also an option to make it 4.5 m wide, at the expense of some landscaping on both sides. This was one of the points where the planners were asking for public input.
By the time of the public presentation of the project, we had a full house.
Dan Egan got a few chuckles from the audience when he noted that it was nice, for a change, to be working on a project that many people actually wanted to see built.
In response to my question about the ongoing EA of the Dupont Bike Lanes, he said that he can’t imagine that there would be enough support to get the bike lane taken out, and if the section of the bike lane under the rail bridge (the connection between Wards 13 and 14 to the Railpath) were ever to be replaced, it would be with something of equal value in terms of cyclist safety.
All in all, there was a very positive buzz in the room, and the assumption was that this thing was actually going to happen. The presence of Councillors Perks, Bailao and (briefly) Layton was noted.
NOTE: the deadline for public comment at this stage is July 11, 2014. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Update: the official link to the full slide deck is below:
and the city has related information on this page, including peripheral projects such as the Liberty Village Bike/Ped Bridge which is also due to go in around 2016.
Below is a letter from the Ward 14, 18, 19, and 13 groups of Cycle Toronto, expressing some of our concerns about the proposed alignment. Remember that the deadline for public comment is July 11.
Railpath Expansion Multi-Ward Feedback July 2nd 2014
Globe and Mail coverage here.