Busy Toronto streetcar to shut down for 20 months starting in May
A busy streetcar in the heart of downtown Toronto could be shut down for about 20 months starting right before the summer.
As of early May, commuters hoping to jump on the 501 streetcar on Queen St. will instead have to queue up for a shuttle bus.
In a report set to be presented at next week’s Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) board meeting, officials say that utility work to allow the streetcar to divert around construction for the new Ontario Line has delayed the construction for the new tracks.
“Currently, the TTC, Metrolinx, City of Toronto and various utility owners are working very closely to resolve all of the utility conflicts and relocations as expediently as possible,” the report says.
“Metrolinx has identified that the potential delay to complete the streetcar detour work will result in approximately 20 months of shuttle bus service commencing in early May 2023.”
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A section of Queen Street in Toronto is anticipated to close for nearly five years for the construction of the new subway stop, located at Yonge and Queen streets, connecting to Line 1.
New tracks are being laid down along Adelaide Street, as well as nearby side streets, to allow for the streetcar to divert without using shuttle busses.
The report notes the work was “substantially completed” in late 2022, but adds the TTC is still “refining the detailed design of the infrastructure” with the city and Metrolinx, the provincial agency set to operate the Ontario Line.
Construction along the remaining areas were expected to start last year, however, officials say a utility issue were identified that “surpassed previous expectations and has delayed the start of the construction of the streetcar tracks for the diversion.”
“The TTC is still working closely with Metrolinx and the City on exploring options to optimize the construction schedule of the Adelaide civil and streetcar track construction work to reduce the duration of shuttle bus service,” the report reads.
A proposed map of the Ontario Line is pictured. (Metrolinx)
The Ontario Line is a large part of the Doug Ford government’s transit expansion plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. All the costs are being covered by the province, which is anticipated to be more than $1 billion per kilometre—nearly double initial estimates.
Documents from Infrastructure Ontario showed two contracts totalling $15 billion have already been awarded.
The 15-stop, 15.6-kilometre extension, which will run from Exhibition Place through the downtown core along Queen Street before heading north to the Ontario Science Centre, is expected to be completed by 2031.
Businesses set to be impacted by the construction are asking for transparency and accountability following the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, which caused extensive construction along busy corridors and took much longer than anticipated.
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