Laird Drive to Don Valley Parkway Update: Environmental Project Report Addendum Text Summary

 

Metrolinx is proposing to change the location of the eastern tunnel boring machine (TBM) launch site east of Brentcliffe Road to a site at the southwest corner of Eglinton Avenue East and Don Mills Road.

The proposed relocation of the launch area has also resulted in a change to the LRT alignment between Laird Station and Don Mills Station, from a surface (street-level) LRT line approved in the 2010 Environmental Project Report (EPR) to an underground LRT line.

PART ONE

What We Heard at the December 2012 presentation

We many comments from the December 2012 Public Information Centre (PIC) and online consultation. Key comments can be summarized as follows:

  • General support for an underground LRT alignment to Don Mills Station;
  • Mixed support / concern regarding the loss of the proposed Leslie and Ferrand LRT stops;
  • Suggestions to consider an alternative LRT alignment OVER the West Don River; and
  • Complete the project as soon as possible.

Based on the PIC, the project description has been updated:

  • Ferrand Stop can be accommodated;
  • Preferred Launch site continues to be at Don Mills;
  • Tunnel Extension from Laird Station to Don Mills; and
  • Leslie Stop remains eliminated. 

Why is an Addendum to the EPR Required?

The approved 2010 EPR included a street-level LRT alignment within the centre of Eglinton Avenue between Brentcliffe Avenue and Don Valley Parkway, with a short underground section for the station at Don Mills Road and with surface stops at Leslie Street and Ferrand Drive. The changes to the Project between Laird Drive and Don Valley Parkway include:

  • An extension of the underground section from Laird Station to the Don Mills Station;
  • Three Emergency Exit Buildings (EEB’s) to meet Fire Life Safety requirements;
  • Removal of the surface stop at Leslie Street; and
  • Removal of the surface stop at Ferrand Drive.

An Addendum to the EPR is required to assess these changes.

Why is this Change Needed?

The TBM launch site proposed in the approved EPR at Brentcliffe Rd is no longer suitable, due to:

  • New property constraints: New development to the south of the Brentcliffe launch site would require temporary shoring to protect the building foundation for the duration of construction, and construction noise mitigation measures may be insufficient;
  • Traffic impacts / detour requirements: Traffic disruption would occur over a 28-month period during the operation of the launch site;
  • Slope stability: Issues north of Eglinton at the Brentcliffe portal could impact the ability to permanently maintain 4 lanes of traffic at this location; and
  • Soil contamination issues: The preliminary design study identified contaminated soil at the Brentcliffe launch site that would have to be removed.

Alternative TBM Launch Sites Considered

2010 Plan: TBM Launch Site East of Brentcliffe Road

 Proposed image of TBM Launch Site East of Brentcliffe Road The TBM would tunnel westerly from the launch site to Chaplin Road.

The line would use LRT at street-level  between Brentcliffe Road and Don Mills Road.

Current Plan Option 1: TBM Launch Site East of Bayview Avenue

 Proposed image of TBM Launch Site East of Bayview Avenue The TBM would be launched twice from this site, once to tunnel westerly to Yonge Street, and once to tunnel easterly to Brentcliffe Road.

The line would use LRT at street level between Brentcliffe Road and Don Mills Road.

Current Plan Option 2: TBM Launch Site West of Don Mills Road

 Proposed image of TBM Launch Site West of Don Mills Road The TBM would tunnel westerly to Yonge Street from the launch site.

The line would use LRT underground between Brentcliffe Road and Don Mills Road.

The recommended TBM launch site is Option 2: TBM Launch Site West of Don Mills Road site as it offers:

  • Larger launch site allows for more efficient construction and traffic staging;
  • Improved LRT operations between Laird Station and Don Mills Station; and
  • Fewer sensitive noise receptors nearby.

The below image illustrates the study area for EPR Addendum:

Map of study area for EPR Addendum

Effects of the Change: Leslie LRT Stop

  • The change to the alignment results in the Leslie Stop being moved underground.
  • Given low ridership forecasts and limited opportunity for future development, the costs associated with an underground LRT Station at this location (est. $80M) are not justified.
  • It is proposed that this stop be removed.
  • Modified Bus routes would provide connections between Leslie Street and Laird LRT Station.
  • The walk-in ridership catchment area for the Leslie LRT Station – typically a 500m radius from the station – contains a low density of trip-generating developments, with little potential for new development due to the presence of protected park lands.
  • This results in a station with one of the lowest forecast passenger activity rates for the entire Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

Modified TTC Bus Routes

  • Consistent with the approved plan for the Eglinton LRT, the TTC will be modifying bus routes 51 and 56 through the Leslie Street / Eglinton Avenue area, as shown in the adjacent figure.
  • These routes will provide transit connectivity between the Laird LRT Station, the existing and future development along Leslie Street, and the park lands to the north and south of Eglinton Avenue.

Pedestrian Connections

  • Pedestrian connections from the Laird and Don Mills LRT Stations to the park lands at the intersection of Eglinton Avenue and Leslie Street exist today.
  • Metrolinx will work with the active transportation  community and the City of Toronto to improve the  streetscape along Eglinton Avenue between Laird and Don Mills Stations through this project.

Effects of the Change: Ferrand LRT Stop

  • At the previous PIC (December 2012), it was proposed that the Ferrand LRT Stop be removed due to geometric constraints.
  • The LRT design and operational plan has been revisited, and it is now feasible to maintain the proposed Ferrand LRT Stop.
  • The Ferrand LRT Stop has therefore been reinstated in the current proposed LRT plan, consistent with the previously-approved plan.

Commitments to Future Work

Metrolinx is proceeding with the delivery of the Eglinton LRT through Public Private Partnership and Alternative Financing & Procurement (AFP). Through this process Metrolinx is committed to:

  • Continuing Public Consultation: We will consult with the public, property owners and stakeholder agencies during the design of the LRT, stops/ stations, bus terminals and ancillary facilities.
  • Incorporate City of Toronto urban design criteria into the design of the LRT facilities.
  • Mitigate construction Issues: We will conduct further research, analysis and develop plans including:
    • Noise, vibration and air emissions monitoring and mitigation;
    • Traffic, transit and pedestrian management strategies;
    • Utility and municipal services relocation plans;
    • Emergency response plans (Fire, Police and Emergency Medical Services);
    • Vegetation restoration, edge management and streetscape plans;
    • Soil and groundwater management strategy; and
    • Erosion and sedimentation control plan

PART TWO

Comments were recieved on the evening of the open house (Decemeber 11, 2013), through on-line survey results (recieved by January 4, 2013) and email.

Comment Format Tally
Written Comments at the Open House Dec 11, 2012 31
On-line surveys received to Jan 21, 2013 135
Email comments and mail received at project Community Office 25

General Questions

Why is this change happening now?

  • During the initial environmental assessment (2010), a concept is proposed. As the process of detailed engineering begins, costs and contract details before refined and additional considerations are discovered. Any changes to the number or locations of stops must go through an Environmental Assessment Amendment process.
  • The considerations would have been important then had they been known at the time of the preparation of the EPR. But this is why we have the environmental assessment process, to enable further research and investigation.

What are the benefits of the proposed changes?

  • The proposed change will result in significant improvements to construction staging, schedule and traffic impacts.
  • Although the length of the tunnel would increase by approximately one kilometre, cost savings associated with the elimination of a crossover and storage track at Laird Station and the elimination of a tunnel launch/extraction shaft at Bayview Avenue offset the additional tunnel costs.

Is it not possible to construct the launch shaft on the north side of Eglinton?

  • No. There is not enough space available to construct it on the north side.

Leslie Stop/Station

Why is the Leslie LRT stop being eliminated?

  • The costs associated with an underground station at Leslie are not be justified given low ridership forecasts. It would be the highest cost station, with the lowest ridership on the LRT line.

What information has Metrolinx taken into account in estimating ridership levels at Leslie Street?

  • The travel demand forecasts shown in the Environmental Project Report were based on land use/development forecasts for the City of Toronto for the year 2031. Information is based on the City of Toronto Official Plan.
  • Only the northeast corner of the Leslie Street/Eglinton East intersection has development potential.

What about all the people that access the park for many special events?

  • Stations are planned on the basis of ridership during peak travel periods. Metrolinx will work with the City and the local community to enhance access to the parks system from the Don Mills and Laird Stations.

Given that an emergency exit is required around Leslie Street, why not just construct a station?

  • Construction of an emergency exit is relatively simple and inexpensive compared to the cost of constructing a station and the footprint required is not much more than a standard office space.

Does the tunnel construction make possible the addition of a Leslie Street station in the future?

  • Additional stations on the underground route are possible. However, co-ordination of station construction and tunnelling work is preferred in order to maximize the construction investment.
  • A future station at Leslie Street is technically feasible, but the limited ridership potential at that location does not justify the expense of a station.

LRT Service and Bus Routes

With no stop at Leslie, how will transit riders connect to the LRT?

  • Bus routes would be modified to provide enhanced connections between Leslie Street and Laird Station. During peak travel periods, passengers will be served by a Leslie/Laird bus every ten minutes.

What will be the impact on traffic of a Laird Street station?

  • There will be no bus station or loop at the Laird Station. The Leslie/Laird turn south on Laird, stop in front of the station and passengers will transfer into the underground station.

Alignment Option: Over West Don River

Will the team consider an underground option that crosses OVER the West Don River?

  • This alternative is NOT RECOMMENDED as it requires (and therefore does not address the issues with) a TBM Launch Site at Brentcliffe.

Active Transportation-Walking and Cycling

How does the change affect plans for bike lanes on Eglinton east of Laird committed to in the 2010 approved plan?

  • Metrolinx is consulting and coordinating with the City of Toronto City Planning and Transportation Services Divisions to develop a plan to provide enhanced pedestrian access and bike lanes along Eglinton Avenue.

Next Steps

Following the Public Information Centre, the Project Team will:

  • Finalize the Environmental Project Report (EPR) Addendum, summarizing the study findings and recommendations;
  • Receive Recommendations and Approvals from the Metrolinx Board;
  • File the EPR Addendum for a 30-day public and agency review and comment period;
  • Following the 30-day review period, the EPR Addendum and responses to any comments submitted during the review period will be submitted to the Minister of the Environment for approval.

The below image illustrates where we are in the consultation process:

Image showing Environmental Assessment consultation process for The Crosstown

Please contact us with any additional questions.