Ontario Independent

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

For the next 7 years, downtown traffic delays of up to 29 minutes are possible

Key takeaways:

  • According to a new staff analysis, downtown traffic is expected to “seriously deteriorate” over the next decade.
  • The most significant impact of the southern leg of the 15.6-kilometer Ontario Line will be at Queen Station.
  • The eastbound curb lane on King Street will be shut between Berkley Street and Parliament Street beginning in September. 

According to a new staff analysis, downtown traffic would “seriously deteriorate” for the next decade as the building of Ontario Line stations coincides with several important city-led infrastructure projects.

According to the analysis, which will be presented to Mayor John Tory’s executive committee next week, commute times along numerous downtown arteries could increase by up to 29 minutes between 2022 and 2029 as six new Ontario Line stations are built.

During the afternoon rush hour, drivers on Richmond Street would have the most delays, with the average route time from Parliament to Bathurst streets increasing from 22 to 51 minutes.

During the afternoon hours, however, drivers will face significant delays on several other major east-west routes, including Adelaide Street (plus 24 minutes), Wellington Street (plus 23 minutes), Dundas Street (plus 14 minutes eastbound, plus 11 minutes westbound), and Front Street (plus 14 minutes eastbound, plus 11 minutes westbound) (plus five minutes).

Also read: The seven-day average continues to rise in Ontario, with 780 new COVID-19 cases reported

Morning commute times will also be disrupted, albeit to a lesser extent, with one to six-minute delays likely.

“While the city-led maintenance and the Ontario Line shutdown will have an impact, the network should operate properly in the morning peak hour.” 

The most substantial impact will be felt during the already crowded evening peak period when congestion will worsen, and vehicle journey durations will be significantly impacted,” according to the staff study.

The most significant impact of the southern leg of the 15.6-kilometer Ontario Line will be at Queen Station, where Queen Street between Victoria and Bay streets will be closed to vehicular traffic from May 2023 to November 2027.

However, there will be several lane and sidewalk closures near the other downtown stations – King-Bathurst, Queen-Spadina, Osgoode, Moss Park, and Corktown – which may cause traffic congestion and make travel around the city more difficult.

Starting in May, University Avenue will be reduced to one lane in each way between Queen Street West and Armoury Street to facilitate work on a new platform beneath Osgoode Station.

To enable work on Corktown Station, the eastbound curb lane on King Street will be closed between Berkley Street and Parliament Street beginning in September. 

The southbound curb lane on Parliament Street will be closed between King and Front streets beginning in September. Those restrictions are expected to last until November 2029.

Traffic delays of up to 29 minutes are possible downtown for the next seven  years.

The goal of modelling is to present the worst-case scenario.

The modelling is intended to provide a “worst-case” estimate in which numerous city-led projects, such as sewer rehabilitation work along Richmond Street and water main replacement work along Dundas, Front, and also Adelaide streets, are carried out “concurrently” with work on the Ontario Line, according to the staff report.

It claims that construction delays for the new subway stations will only have a “minor impact” on travel times, ranging from one to five minutes during the afternoon commute and as little as a minute on most lines during the morning commute.

“I think what the report was talking about is that we’re looking holistically at all of the construction that could be going on during this time, whether it’s the Gardner construction, the Ontario line, or other condos that are being built, and there’s a potential for up to 30 minutes delay because of all of those construction projects,” Metrolinx spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins told CP24 on Wednesday afternoon.

“So that’s the utmost potential for drivers,” says the narrator. But we must equally consider pedestrians, ensuring that they have constant safe and accessible access. 

If you’re a biker, we need to make sure that we’re meeting all of your needs, and one of the most significant groups is transit riders that pass through the Queen Street area, so we’ll design a diversion for the Queen Street vehicle ahead of time (on York Street).”

City staff is requesting that the council approve all of the road closures required for the first phase of the Ontario Line’s construction, but they also note that it is “expected” that some of the closures will be cut short or eliminated due to a procurement process that encourages developers to “reduce the number and duration of road closures.

Source: CP24

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