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Waterfront East LRT - Virtual public meeting, February 17



The City of Toronto, WaterfrontToronto and the TTC are studying how to extend the Waterfront light rail transit / streetcar network east of Union Station to Cherry Street.

The scope of work for the study includes:

  • assessing a location for an underground-to-surface portal on Queens Quay East;
  • developing temporary transit services during construction and until the extension is complete;
  • updating past Environmental Assessment approvals through a Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP); and
  • preparing a 30-percent design and cost estimate and a business case for the project.

(A Transit Project Assessment Process is a streamlined environmental assessment process, specifically for transit projects. The Government of Ontario requires municipalities or transit agencies to complete this process before it can approve a project.)

To meet Council’s direction, the team must complete the design, business case and project costing by fall 2021 in time for the City to start its 2022 budget process. At the same time, the team must complete an environmental project report and submitted it to Ontario for approval as part of the Transit Project Assessment Process.

You can take part in the process by joining a virtual discussion tonight, Wednesday, February 17, from 7 until 8:30 p.m.

You can:


Staff have divided the scope of work into three focus areas:

  • Area 1 is the underground section that includes the Union Station Loop, the Queens Quay - Ferry Docks Station and a new tunnel extension and portal on Queens Quay east of Bay Street.
  • Area 2A is Queens Quay East to Parliament Street and overlaps surface areas with Area 1 at Bay Street. This area includes the Yonge, Jarvis, and Parliament Street slips, which present unique challenges and opportunities.
  • Area 2B includes the unbuilt portion of Queens Quay between Parliament Street and the future Cherry Street, finally connecting under the rail corridor to Distillery Loop.

Map of Waterfront East LRT phases.jpg

Portal site

A streetcar portal is infrastructure that allows streetcars to move from street-level to an underground tunnel. A similar portal is on Queens Quay West west of Bay Street. The same type of facility on Queens Quay East would allow streetcars to travel directly from the underground Union Station streetcar loop to the surface on Queens Quay East. Part of the Waterfront East LRT Extension includes a portal selection study to evaluate two alternative locations for the streetcar portal on Queens Quay East.

Alternative 1 - east of Yonge Street

A 2010 study identified a portal on Queens Quay East between Yonge and Freeland Streets, in front of the Pier 27 condominium development. Since that time, staff have studied the location further and have discovered more challenges with building a portal at this site.

Portal alternative 1 - current conditions.png

^ Portal alternative 1 - current conditions

Portal alternative 1 - proposal.png

^ Portal alternative 1 - proposal

Alternative 2 - west of Yonge Street

In the second alternative, the portal is on Queens Quay East between Bay and Yonge Streets, in front of the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel. This alternative portal location would block the current driveway along the east side of the hotel and the entrance to the hotel motor court. Therefore, this alternative proposes a partially filling in the Yonge Street slip to provide a new access point to the hotel and driveway through the intersection of Yonge Street with Queens Quay East. A portal in this location would also displace five bus bays and three taxi stands in this block. By partially filling in the Yonge slip the portal construction project could create space for five bus bays and a pick-up and a drop-off facility for passenger vehicles to replace those spaces. The filled area would also include plaza space, the water’s edge promenade, a wave deck, and open space connecting to a future park east of the slip.

The planners are recommending alternative 2 because it offers an opportunity for more open space at base of Yonge Street and removes unsignalized driveways on Martin Goodman Trail, improving trail conditions. The revised design would relocate bus- and taxi-loading off the street, which currently conflicts with the Martin Goodman Trail and roadway operations. Staff had previously identified unsignalized driveways to and from the hotel and the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal driveway as a high-risk area for conflicts between vehicles, trail users and pedestrians. This option would consolidate these movements to a signalized intersection.

Portal alternative 2 - current conditions.png

^ Portal alternative 2 - current conditions

Portal alternative 2 - proposal.png

^ Portal alternative 2 - proposal

Alternative 2 would also require a shorter tunnel. It also avoids the necessity of building the tunnel under a sewer line at Yonge Street, requiring a deeper tunnel. The result? $40-50 million less in project construction costs.

Eastern terminal

Union Station is a fixed starting point for the Waterfront East LRT extension and the ultimate end point is the Leslie Barns Maintenance and Storage Facility.

Note that long-term plans for the area include:

  • extending Queens Quay East between Parliament and Cherry Streets;
  • realigning Parliament and Cherry Streets;
  • extending Broadview Avenue south of Eastern Avenue to Commissioners Street.

The City and its partners expect to complete the network in stages, and they are assessing the appropriate temporary end point in the Cherry Street area. They are exploring four options:

Parliament Loop

  • Temporary loop near Queens Quay East and Parliament Street.
  • Original terminus in earlier plans for phase 1.

Distillery Loop

  • Extend Queens Quay East to Cherry Street, with streetcar connecting to the Distillery Loop

Polson Loop

  • Complete to Distillery Loop, plus extend the streetcar along Cherry Street to the Ship Channel

East Harbour

  • Complete to Distillery Loop, plus extend the streetcar along Cherry Street to Commissioners Street, across Commissioners and northward along the future extension of Broadview Avenue.
Temporary transit service during construction

Rebuilding the streetcar stations at Union and Queens Quay may require the closure of Bay Street for several years. How do passengers heading to and from the East Waterfront get around by public transit in the meantime?

Option 1 - Bus to / from Union Station along Yonge Street

  • Complete Queens Quay East surface works first, then start construction on Union Station and Queens Quay Station.
  • While Union Station and Queens Quay Station are under construction, buses operate along a new 519 bus route between Union Station and the eastern waterfront, using the dedicated streetcar tracks on Queens Quay East.
  • Buses continue to operate along the 6 Bay route, but they detour along Front Street East and Yonge Street.
  • Buses along a temporary route 509 replace the streetcar service east of Lower Spadina Avenue, providing a direct connection to Union Station via Yonge Street.
  • Streetcars along the 510 Spadina route operate to and from Exhibition Loop, serving stops on Queens Quay West west of Lower Spadina and Fleet Street.
  • Streetcars along a temporary 509B route may operate between Exhibition Loop and King Street East / Church Street during rush hours or special events, such as the Canadian National Exhibition. The cars operate along Fleet and Bathurst Streets, Queens Quay West, Lower Spadina and Spadina Avenues and King Streets West and East.

Temporary transit service - option 1.png

Option 2: Streetcar through from Queens Quay West

  • Complete Queens Quay East surface works first, then start construction on Union Station and Queens Quay Station.
  • Streetcar operates in dedicated lanes along Queens Quay West and East after construction ends on Queens Quay East, bypassing Union Station during construction.
  • Buses continue to operate along the 6 Bay route, but they detour along Front Street East and Yonge Street.

Changes to transit service during tunnel construction - phase 2.png

Union and Queens Quay stations

Focus Area 1 is the underground section that includes the Union Station Loop, Queens Quay Station and a new tunnel extension and portal on Queens Quay east of Bay Street. To accommodate new streetcar service to the East Bayfront area of the waterfront, the City and its partners must:

  • significantly expand the two underground stations;
  • build new running tunnel and portal structures under Queens Quay West between Bay and Yonge Streets;
  • build tracks in the tunnel and portal structures; and
  • Reinstate all roadways in the construction zone.

Union Station

  • The current streetcar station has one single curved platform with direct access to the TTC’s subway platform area and beyond.
  • The proposed design includes expanding the station to accommodate as many as four streetcar platforms and new crossover tracks that allow the cars to operate to and from each platform independently.

Union Station - current layout.png

^ Current layout of streetcar platform at Union Station.

Union Station - proposed layout.png

^ Proposed layout of future streetcar platforms at Union Station.

Queens Quay Station

  • The current station has one platform on each side and entrance connections to and from the street level.
  • The proposed expansion of the station includes as many as one more platform on each side, an better entrance on the west side, an underground connection to the active development at 11 Bay Street and new emergency exits. It also includes a lower level so that passengers can cross safely from one side of the station to the other.

Queens Quay Station - current layout.png

^ Current layout of streetcar platforms at Queens Quay Station.

Queens Quay Station - proposed layout.png

^ Proposed layout of future streetcar platforms at Queens Quay Station.


More information

  • City of Toronto: “Waterfront East LRT extension”, here.
  • WaterfrontToronto: “East Bayfront precinct”, here.
  • Steve Munro: “Waterfront East LRT Virtual Public Meeting”, here.
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