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?
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.
Weston tunnel continues to progress and is remarkably deep as the size of the workers in the photo shows. This view is looking north, just west of King. A layer of trademark Weston shale can be seen on the sides and floor of the tunnel.
Looking further down, the finished floor on which the rail bed will be constructed is visible.
Metrolinx staff at the community office (44 King Street) conduct regular walking tours. The next one is scheduled on September 19th at 5pm, although groups can arrange tours at other times and dates by calling Rawle or Loretta at 416-241-2300. The starting locatioon at 44 King is easy to miss – it’s the trailer next to the tracks on the south side of King.
King is expected to be put back together again partially (for south-west traffic) at the end of September and completely later on in the fall. More details here.
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.
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”