Pressure continues to mount in opposition to Highway 413. May of the municipalities on or near the route have resolved to oppose it. Transport Action Ontario (TAO) made a deputation to Markham Council on May 3 outlining the reasons to oppose this highway. It can be viewed below.
We are pleased to report that Federal Minister of the Environment Jonathan Wilkinson ruled favourably on a request by 8 non-government organizations, including TAO, to designate the Highway 413 project for a federal Impact Assessment (IA). Although the scope of the IA is not yet know, we expect that this will create a “sober second look” at all aspects of the project, including identification of superior alternatives like transit and truck toll subsidies.
One of the prime transportation objectives of the Ontario government is to establish 2-way all-day GO service from Toronto to Kitchener along the so-called Innovation Corridor. The recent Provincial budget explicitly discussed progress on a second tunnel under Highways 401/409 and progress on procurement this year of additional tracks and new platforms.
The current operation provides limited service to Kitchener. Metrolinx has now released the Preliminary Design Business Case (PDBC) defining the infrastructure requirements, costs and benefits of reaching the provincial objective. For the inner portion of the line (Weston Sub), the approved GO Expansion project will provide adequate infrastructure. However, on the Bramalea – Georgetown portion (Halton Sub), additional track and potentially a rail-rail grade separation will be needed to allow shared use with CN Rail. On the Georgetown – Kitchener portion (Guelph Sub), passing tracks will need to be added on this single track line. Capital cost is estimated at $1.3B – 1.7B PV, roughly within the provincial funding envelope. It is also encouraging to note the apparent cooperation between CN and Metrolinx on this project.
The PDBC also mentions other potential future enhancements, such as a direct connection to Pearson Airport, electrification beyond Bramalea and service extension to Southwestern Ontario. Transport Action will continue to monitor this strategic project closely.
Resident outrage over the recommended route for the Yonge North Subway Extension continues. See our post of April 27 for background. Transport Action Ontario has now suggested an alternate route, known as Option 2A. It has been submitted to Metrolinx, who have indicated they will comment back. Our submission is given below.
Hi Steve….thank you to you and the Metrolinx team for participating in the lengthy Markham Development Services Committee meeting on April 25. It is clear there are many residents with big concerns about Option 3A. As you recall, I offered to write up what I called “tweaked Option 2”, or Option 2A, involving a cut & cover route across Langstaff to reach an at-grade Bridge Station. You agreed to evaluate this option and report back.
This idea has been developed by Transport Action Ontario, a citizen-based NGO focusing on public transportation, of which I am currently the President.
As a preamble, just as with Option 3A, Option 2A is not perfect. Compromises may have to be made, including potentially a need to adjust the development plan (Secondary Plan) for the Langstaff Gateway Regional Centre. Fortunately, no recent new development has occurred at Langstaff yet, although it may be imminent. As our ideas are very high level, feel free to adjust them to make them more workable. The Figures below show two route concepts.
Option 1 – From Yonge St at the cemetery, using tight curves of 600 feet radius (same as on Line 1 at Union), we believe Bridge Station can be reached for an across-platform interchange with GO Trains. This route would almost certainly incur a maintenance penalty.
Option 2 – From Yonge St at the cemetery, using curves of larger radii, a point 75 meters west of Bridge Station can be reached. This could easily be incorporated into the Station, as per the rough hand-drawn sketch. The 75 m area between the subway and the GO line would make good retail space.
We presume that cut & cover would be used to construct this portion, so track slopes should not be an issue. The Bridge Station sketch shows the subway at one level below the at-grade GO tracks, which can readily be incorporated in the station design. The bus concourse would be one level above the tracks, as proposed in your Option 3A. Pomona Creek is in a culvert 3 mbg near the proposed subway crossing. Engineering would have to figure out how to best cross this culvert (over/under) or otherwise alter the creek. If the Holy Cross Cemetery could be persuaded to allow access to a corner of parkland at their northwest corner, the curve radius could perhaps be increased.
Transport Action Ontario looks forward to your review of theses ideas. We will be happy to answer any questions. Best regards,
Residents in the Thornhill neighbourhood in York Region were blindsided in mid March when Metrolinx finally released its long-awaited Initial Business Case for the Yonge North Subway Extension (YNSE). The best-performing option proceeds north from Finch Station about 5 km, and then turns sharply east and tunnels under 60 homes, one school and a creek to reach the GO Richmond Hill corridor. It then gradually reaches the surface and remains at grade within the corridor to a terminus in Richmond Hill Centre (RHC). Three stations are proposed – underground at Steeles Ave, at-grade between Highways 7 and 407 (“Bridge” Station) and at-grade at RHC. The main positive feature of this option is that Bridge Station will be located in the heart of two planned dense communities – Langstaff Gateway Centre and Richmond Hill Centre. It will also be well located for connecting bus routes. Because the capital cost of this option is below the funding envelope of $5.6B, a fourth station is being studied at one of three candidate locations.
This controversial alignment was approved by the Metrolinx board months ago and is called the “Approved Reference Alignment”. However, residents only became aware of it in mid March. Naturally there is plenty of concern about noise, vibration, property values and construction disruption. Metrolinx is moving ahead rapidly with community and public engagement as well as field testing. It expects to go to the market with a Request for Qualifications this Fall, and is predicting completion of the work by 2030.
Transport Action Ontario (TAO) supports construction of this subway “missing link”. It is essential to the orderly growth of the northern GTHA. As taxpayers, we also support getting the best value for our capital dollars. Therefore it is concerning that, despite its width, the portion under Yonge Street is slated for tunneling rather than the much cheaper cut and cover.
Resident concerns also need to be heeded. Metrolinx has not provided solid answers about why the eastward piece cannot be constructed using cut & cover under the currently-undeveloped lands slated for the Langstaff Gateway Centre. TAO intends to submit a proposal to Metrolinx showing that such a route appears technically feasible.
There is also resident uncertainty about how well noise/vibration mitigation will work, and if Metrolinx will compensate them for any property devaluation resulting from subway infrastructure on their properties. Lastly, residents need to be assured that there will be at least one, hopefully two, stations in Thornhill as compensation for all the disruption.
TAO will continue to actively monitor this project and may issue further statements as more information becomes available.
There is increasing recognition on both sides of our border about the need for low or zero-carbon public transportation. This opens up opportunities for the growth of same-train passenger rail services between Canada and USA. Canadian Minister of Transportation Alghabra and US Transportation Secretary Buttigieg talk frequently, and Amtrak has recently proposed a new Chicago-Detroit – Toronto service. Non government organizations on both sides of the border are developing ideas to bring forward.
Transport Action Ontario has issued a briefing paper on our ideas on advancing US-Canada passenger rail connections. The paper covers: