Metrolinx opened the John Street Bridge just in time for the last day of the market. I confess, I had thought the bridge to be rather ugly from afar: it seemed engineered for safety and accessibility, which, if not inimical to beauty, are certainly challenges to it. I was wrong.
The bridge is quite nice!
I had thought that there was rather too much fencing Up close, though, it works: the fencing is attractive stainless wire. It looks great.
The steps are actually kind of fun; on the John Street side, they are steeply pitched. My kids loved it, and they were actually a bit scared. The auditorium staircase, with much larger steps, is pretty great too.
Laura Albanese, our MPP, wrote a quite scathing letter to Bruce McCuaig, the CEO of Metrolinx, demanding that the John Street Bridge be opened.
Apparently, Metrolinx doesn’t answer letters even from MPPs; Albanese says her last correspondence was “never followed up on with a formal response”.
I know, at the end of the day, it’s a bridge and arguably, an ugly, oversized one. But to me, it stands as a symbol of all that is wrong with Metrolinx: it is expensive, consultative, and sold with breathless unfalsifiable jargonese.
But at the end of the day, after millions of dollars and hours of puffery, it’s a bridge built for Metrolinx, not for us.
Somehow, bureaucrats at Metrolinx and the City of Toronto have been having a little standoff over who exactly should do what in terms of maintenance and other responsibilities when the footbridge connecting the two isolated sections of John Street finally opens. They don’t give a damn that people are being inconvenienced after years of construction dirt and noise. God forbid they would do the decent thing and open it under a temporary understanding. No, these two unaccountable behemoths would rather the public be held hostage while they slap each other privately with their white gloves.
May I point out to the warring parties that the people who own the damned bridge are sick and tired of excuses for the lack of action. You couldn’t even agree to get the bridge to cross all the tracks! Get the damned thing open. Oh and by the way, politicians and other assorted hangers on, don’t you dare have a ribbon cutting to take the ‘credit’ for opening the bridge two years late! I promise to be there with a bullhorn if you do.
Robin Breon sends in this guest editorial on the John Street bridge.
What can I say? The bridge is still not open. An agreement between the City and Metrolinx regarding servicing, maintenance, liability, etc. has not yet been reached. The City has asked Metrolinx to open it for public use while terms of the agreement are being finalized – Metrolinx has refused.–Frances Nunziata
It seems to me that the John Street Bridge is a good metaphor regarding what has been plaguing the entire progress of mass transit issues within the GTA and that is, the catastrophic bungling from Metrolinx over the past several years with the UP Express itself being a prime example of gross mismanagement.
Metrolinx first fought with the city over the building of the Weston Tunnel and the John Street overpass. Now they are fighting with the city over servicing, maintenance, and ongoing liability issues for the John Street bridge. If Metrolinx doesn’t want ongoing responsibility for its projects then it should be abolished as an agency and this important infrastructure work should be handed over to the TTC where it properly belongs (including the UP Express). Why do we continue to let precious taxpayer dollars go toward incompetent executive managers like Robert Pritchard and Bruce McCuaig ($363,403 per annum, not counting the bonus!), when they can’t even build an overpass across a railroad track! It simply beggars belief!
I suggest we in Weston organize a demonstration every Saturday at noon at the chain link fence on John Street at the site of the cultural hub/Artscape construction until we get our bridge opened to the public—who paid for it. I’m sure we could get press coverage for our efforts and at the same time highlight the greater problems facing mass transit within the GTA as long as it remains in the fumbling hands of Metrolinx managers.
Laura Albanese says the John Street bridge will soon be opened—more than a year later than promised.
The hold up seems to be mostly legal:
Metrolinx still needs to put in place a maintenance agreement with the City of Toronto. They are in the process of drafting an agreement based on another bridge on the corridor. This agreement will need to be in place prior to opening the bridge to the public.
The long-awaited and much-delayed John Street bridge will be installed on Monday night. Workers were on site doing manly things with tools this week, and the bridge will be lifted into position overnight.
InsideToronto has an in-depth article on the history and future of the proposed John Street cultural hub:
While Weston is in desperate need of revitalization, Nunziata said, the relocation of the Weston GO station to south of Lawrence Avenue created a parking lot surplus for the city-owned Toronto Parking Authority, which created an opportunity for this public-private project.
With the addition of the new UP Express stop at the Weston GO station, there is an opportunity to attract new developers and businesses to the area. But, she said, those businesses need an incentive.
“You need someone to come in with a vision to attract other businesses to the area,” she said, which the cultural hub could do. “Hopefully, that will kick off new businesses along Weston Road and bring in a lot of people to Weston.”