Noise barriers draw graffiti

Metrolinx erected noise barriers along much of the UP Express route, but not without controversy. Further downtown, residents begged for a green walls instead of the clear acrylic and concrete barriers. They were turned down—and now the acrylic barriers are beginning to fail.

By Kevin Putnam
Tagged wall. Photography by Kevin Putnam
Green wall
Green wall design

InsideToronto writes about the graffiti the walls attract. They are being sprayed, cleaned, and sprayed again. Ruhul Gupta writes,

But with each scrubbing, panels are becoming more stained and less clear, said Putnam.

“They are not weathering the graffiti onslaught well,” he said.

What about in Weston? Have you, dear reader, noticed graffiti? If so, send a picture in, and we’ll build some momentum.

No tunnel noise walls

Weston is about to get much noisier. Metrolinx is abandoning its plans to build some of the noise walls that would have dampened noise from the new airport trains.

Manuel Pedrosa, a spokesperson for Metrolinx, says that “planned noise walls were not technically and economically feasible to be built on the Weston Tunnel Walls. The noise walls, as designed, are too heavy to be attached to the Weston Tunnel wall”. (Emphasis mine.)

Pedrosa says there will be no noise walls on the “strutted area” of the tunnel. This includes the areas between, roughly, John and Queenslea (in purple).

  weston_rendering1-1000x750 (1)Westontunnel

It is not yet clear whether there will be noise walls in the other areas of the Weston tunnel (in red). Pedrosa said “We are currently reviewing the constructability [sic] of the other planned noise walls in the area”; I have asked him for clarification. I have also asked him to clarify the effects on nearby properties and the farmers’ market.

In the Junction, they do not want walls, but they’re getting them. In Weston, we want them but we are told we can’t have them.

Noise wall group releases manifesto

The Junction Triangle Rail Committee won a meeting with Transportation Minister Glenn Murray, and they have just released their eminently reasonable demands. The group has been pushing for an improvement to the wall designs released by Metrolinx, which are (in your humble correspondent’s view) community-shattering, graffiti-magnet works of the shadow lord. The JTRC wants to make lemonade out the lemons the UP Express has given us. The train tracks should, they say, “create public amenities for the neighbourhoods adjacent to the rail corridor and city at large” by “reconnecting communities and creating new routes through the city.” They say Metrolinx should cancel the current plan and:

  • Build only the 3-kilometres of noise walls mandated by the Ontario Ministry of the Environment.
  • Study green walls that would be an alternative the concrete and plexiglass barriers.
  • Replace the trees that they have cut down and plant “10,000 trees along the 21-kilometre corridor”
  • Use the corridor as a bike and walking path to link communities instead of dividing them

Your correspondent despairs that Westonians don’t seem to give a damn about the shadow lord’s walls. Are we that tired of fighting?

Noise walls make noisy opponents

The proposed noise walls along the rail corridor are generating a lot of opposition further downtown. Some opponents, such as NDP MPP Rosario Marchese, say the noise walls wouldn’t even be necessary if the trains were electric, citing the example of other cities. Others say that ‘green walls’, which would include living plants, would do.

Residents and groups say that Metrolinx is not engaging in real consultation. InsideToronto got a astonishingly tone-deaf comment from one of the architects of the proposed walls:

“There’s no public opposition, we have been on this project for six months and the majority of people really love the designs,” said Kovacevic, a landscape architect, following the meeting.

“You only heard one view tonight.”

The walls Kovacevic has designed will be huge: 5 metres tall in most places. Except in highly trafficked areas, they will be, well, plain old ugly, too: big concrete slabs, as the video says, not unlike the Gaza or Berlin walls.

Awesome photo from the good people at InsideToronto.

 

 

UP Express wins award, raspberries

The UP Express has won the project of the year award at the Global AirRail Awards, given an industry magazine, AirRail News. The UP Express will, they say, be “a key component in the regional transportation plan developed by Metrolinx. The air rail link will provide an estimated 5,000 guests a day with convenient, reliable and rapid service between downtown Toronto and Toronto Pearson International Airport.”

Award-winning architects, however, were a little less fond of the project. Brown and Storey say that the noise walls being built as part of the project will “offer no collateral benefits for the city” according to a press release. The Junction Triangle Rail Committee published some rather shocking pictures of what they project the walls will do to a downtown park.

wabash-before-after2

In other news, the Minister of Transportation maintained that the line would not be electrified in time for the PanAm games. He “said the Ontario Liberals would continue to support electrifying the Union Pearson Express (UP) air rail link… mentioning 2017 as a potential target date for completion”