Metrolinx meeting on Thursday

Metrolinx will be hosting a virtual meeting to discuss the Eglinton Crosstown West this Thursday, August 19.

The Eglinton Crosstown West extension will run from Mount Dennis Station to Renfrew Drive. As we mentioned last week, it will lead to substantial changes along Eglinton, including in the Eglinton Flats, where a raised train will be installed.

You’re asked to register in advance if you’d like to ask questions.

Metrolinx building elevated tracks at Eglinton Flats

In June, Metrolinx announced their plans for the Crosstown West branch of the LRT around the Eglinton Flats and Fergy Brown Park: They are planning to build a long elevated track from west of Scarlett to east of Jane.

The ‘elevated guideway’ will be 1.5 km long and about 5m (16′) off the ground. (The remainder of the tracks will be underground out to Renforth.)

It’s sure to be controversial, since the LRT will cut through Mount Dennis’ largest area of parkland.

Metrolinx says that they are concerned with minimizing “the visual impact on the surrounding park land, development and streets” and “overlook, overshadowing, noise and vibration, and physical obstructions”. In the presentation, Elmira Moghani said they considered “how it can nicely fit into the environment and the context of Eglinton Flats.” She says the preferred design is a “smaller structure which has less visual impact in the area [and] less constructibility challenges.”

The Mount Dennis Community Association, however, recently detailed several cases where Metrolinx has removed trees, not replaced trees, and allowed erosion in the neighbourhood.

Planning meeting on Eglinton LRT

Metrolinx will be hosting an online meeting to discuss the Eglinton LRT expansion on March 16. Metrolinx is planning to extend the LRT from the new Mount Dennis station to Renforth.

You can ask questions in advance about the project and vote on the questions the members will address.

There are already a number of good questions posted on the site:

• What mitigation strategies will be used to reduce noise and vibration from the elevated section of the along the Eglinton flats section?

• What will the elevated section look like?

• How long do you anticipate construction to take place in the Mount Dennis section?

• What are you doing to protect the green space at the Humber River? Are you going to build on it?

• What are your plans for expanding/improving cycling infrastructure between Mt Dennis and Renforth?

The Mount Dennis Community Association has raised some concerns about the plan to remove many trees; and about noise, visual impact, and parking at parks.

Finally, MDCA expressed concern about the visual appearance of the new Jane overhead station, which will be right in the centre of Eglinton Flats.

The MDCA also said that “Metrolinx is committed to minimizing impacts on both wildlife and water quality, and to making sure the new Humber bridge has minimal impacts on the river and valley.”

Crosstown train goes to Caledonia.

Metrolinx has announced that a train has successfully travelled the relatively short distance between Mount Dennis and Caledonia stations. It apparently was the furthest that an actual train has been along the line. Read more about the event here.

The stations along the Eglinton Crosstown Route. Click to enlarge.

The line is expected to be ready for passengers in 2022. It will open as an entity rather than gradually.

The Ford government campaigned on and has made much of its commitment to extend the line westwards beyond Mount Dennis to the airport and is actively seeking proposals from potential contractors. Much of the extension will be underground, following Eglinton Avenue.

Metrolinx: Merge UPX into GO.

The UP Express in Weston Station (file).

A Toronto Star article published today sheds light on a leaked internal Metrolinx document from February of this year that proposes huge changes to the UP Express. The document proposes that when the Kitchener line is electrified in 2025, the airport train would become part of the GO system and use the same new rolling stock. The current UPX stop at Union Station will also be relocated because of increased numbers – at the cost of at least $77.4 million and some inconvenience to passengers – according to the planning document.

The plan leaves a lot of questions unanswered. Where will airport travellers store their luggage on commuter trains built to maximize numbers of people? What will happen to the separate UPX and GO platforms at Weston Station? What will become of the existing UPX trains which were designed to be converted to electrical power? Will the UPX airport platform need revamping to accommodate the new and larger trains? When will the changes take place?

It’s clear that the change won’t happen for at least five years. On the bright side; there’ll likely be two changes of the provincial government between now and then so anything can happen. My bet is that Doug Ford’s austerity regime will modify it severely or put it (and electrification) firmly on the back burner for a future government to tackle.

Read more here.

Update: According to CP24, Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Akins has stated that the $77.4 million needed to enable relocation of the Union Station platform is no longer ‘necessary’. The money would have been spent on a pedestrian bridge initially proposed thanks to the platform’s southerly relocation.

The austerity prediction didn’t take long to be borne out. Read more here.

Update #2: The UPX platform specifically designed for UP Express trains will become redundant once the move is made to electrified GO trains. According to the Globe and Mail,

“…the Union Pearson Express will load in a different part of the station – leaving the soaring Zeidler-designed wood space where the train now stops to find a new use – and its unique rolling stock will be replaced gradually by regular GO trains.”

It’s hard to imagine what that new use would be – unless it’s re-purposed as a museum dedicated to the follies of GTA transit decisions. There could be sections devoted to David Collennette, Mike Harris, Mel Lastman, Rob Ford, Frances Nunziata and Glenn De Baeremaeker to name but a few.

Uber teams with UP Express

Uber and UP Express have worked a mutual deal so that Uber will have a designated pick-up spot at Weston Station. Logically, it makes sense for Metrolinx to provide alternatives to parking at the much used station. The plan all along has been for Metrolinx to eventually sell much of the current parking space to developers.

Read more here.