Q&A: Laird Drive to Don Valley Parkway: Environmental Project Report Addendum

 

EA Addendum

Why is this change happening now? Why are they important considerations now, but not then?

During the initial environmental assessment, 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.

Is the city aware of this new plan? What is the connection between Metrolinx and the Eglinton Connects Planning Study?

Metrolinx is working closely with the City’s Eglinton Connects Planning Study and has provided close to $2 million in funding for the study.

Did Metrolinx know of these proposed changes while the Master Agreement with the City of Toronto was been negotiated?

Yes. Metrolinx has been looking at different options for a number of months because the original plan makes it very difficult to stage tunnel construction and muck disposal from this location.

Ferrand and Leslie Stations

Why is the Ferrand stop being eliminated?

Under the proposed plan, special track work is required on the east side of the Don Mills LRT Station that extends easterly to Ferrand Drive. This precludes the ability to implement a surface stop at Ferrand Drive.

Eliminating the Ferrand stop will cut off residents in the neighbouring high-rise communities from accessing the LRT. How will they be serviced?

Spacing between stops on The Crosstown seeks a balance between customer convenience and value for money. Ferrand is considered to be an acceptable walking distance to both Wynford and Don Mills, approximately 500 metres to the west. Metrolinx has undertaken additional engineering analysis to determine if the Ferrand Stop can be retained.

Is Ferrand being eliminated because the underground station at Don Mills is too deep?

At key sections along The Crosstown route, additional tracks are needed to ensure vehicle storage and “turn back” track. Because Don Mills will be the end of the tunnelled section, an additional length of track is needed. This lengthens the station and creates an additional engineering challenge in serving a surface stop at Ferrand.

How deep will the tunnels be?

The depth of The Crosstown tunnels will vary but on average will be 15-20 metres below ground. This is a much greater depth than most subway tunnels in Toronto which were built using different construction methods.

Does the tunnel construction make possible the addition of stops 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.

Has Metrolinx considered the effect of the elimination of the Leslie station on access to the Don Valley trails for utility (commuting), recreational, and training uses?

Metrolinx is investigating means of improving access to the parks system from the Don Mills and Laird Stations.

LRT service and bus route implications

Will the service run more quickly with the elimination of stops?

Stop spacing tries to achieve a balance between convenience and speed of operations. Fewer stops on the line create more of an express service which allows the trains to operate at a higher speed overall.

Where will the LRT run in the area of Allen Road and Eglinton?

The tunnel will run below the current University subway line and will create an interchange station at Eglinton West Station.

Selecting several locations within the Don Mills community between Leslie and Don Mills, indicate how buses will continue to service ridership.

Along Eglinton Avenue East, between the CP Rail Bridge and Laird Drive, the Leslie bus will continue to serve passengers in that section of roadway. The section of Eglinton Avenue East between the CP Rail Bridge and Leslie Street is within walking distance of the Leslie Bus. The section of Eglinton Avenue between the Celestica interchange and Don Mills Road is within walking distance of the Don Mills Station.

Has Metrolinx anticipated the impact on street traffic at Laird, of Leslie buses delivering riders to the sidewalk outside the Laird LRT station?

Yes. The intention is to have the Leslie/Laird bus (which arrives every 10 minutes in the peak) serve the station entrance on Laird Drive. Note that there are buses today in the same section of Laird Drive.

Has Metrolinx assumed that the TTC will provide adequate bus routes along Eglinton (especially east/westward from Laird, and east/westward between Laird and Bayview), to ensure that the LRT does not actually reduce access to public transit? Has the TTC committed to this?

Yes. The operating plan is included in the original approved 2010 EPR. Buses from Leslie Street and Laird Drive would be consolidated into one route with 10 minute service during the peak hour. Bus service west of Laird Station would be replaced by frequent LRT service.

Will there be bus service feeding into the LRT stations?

While most connections between bus routes and the LRT are expected to be along the existing roadway, we are working with the TTC to have service feed into the stations where appropriate.

Has Metrolinx assumed that riders going to the Aga Khan Centre will be primarily coming from/via Flemingdon? As an international tourist destination, is this an accurate assumption?

Metrolinx has undertaken additional engineering analysis to determine if the Ferrand Stop can be retained. If it is retained, riders to and from the Aga Khan Centre will be able use the LRT directly.

LRT ridership implications

Is the 2012 design of the LRT intended to suffice for current, or future ridership?

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.

Is ridership growth factored in, and how/where?

The travel demand forecasts include growth as envisioned by the City of Toronto in the Official Plan.

In estimating Leslie ridership in the near and farther future, what potential development scenarios has Metrolinx taken into account?

  • Along Leslie, between Lawrence and Eglinton? The development scenario at Leslie Street was based on the currently adopted City of Toronto Official Plan. Even looking beyond the horizon year of the Official Plan (2031), only the northeast corner of the Leslie Street/Eglinton East intersection has development potential. As one travels further north on Leslie Street, the distance to walk to a Leslie Station becomes too great and one must rely on boarding a bus to get to the Leslie Street intersection.
  • Along Eglinton to the east of Leslie (Celestica west)? The development scenario at Leslie Street was based on the currently adopted City of Toronto Official Plan. Development that could occur east of the CP Rail overpass will be within the influence area of the Don Mills Station.

Active transportation implications

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 bike lanes in the affected area.

If I am a passenger taking the LRT travelling westbound towards Yonge Street, how will I connect to the Yonge subway line?

The Crosstown will provide a connection between the LRT and Yonge subway at a new interchange station at Yonge-Eglinton. Detailed engineering for stations east of Avenue Road is expected to begin in the spring of 2013.

Public Consultation

Will the public have an opportunity to comment on the proposed change?

The public is encouraged to view and comment on the assessment of the impacts of the proposed design changes and measures to mitigate those impacts.

Why does the new Open House/Public Meeting (Jan 31) occur after the new deadline for comments?

In response to the comments we have heard and the input we have received to-date, we are extending the comment period from January 4 to January 21, 2013. We have also scheduled another open house for January 31, 2013 at the Ontario Science Centre.

The intention of the Public Meeting on January 31 is to provide an overview of proposed changes, the comments that Metrolinx has received on its proposal as well as any changes that Metrolinx has made based on the comments it has received.

Will Metrolinx clarify the status of the public consultation? (i.e. whether they have already decided or are open to reconsidering the 2010 approved plan)

Any substantive change triggers an amendment to the approved Environmental Assessment.  The formal amendment process has not started and a further 30 day period of comment will be required.

Will Metrolinx give consideration to comments raised on Jan. 31?

Yes. Metrolinx is very interested in receiving feedback on its proposals. There will be further opportunity for comment once the proposed amendment has been sent to the Ministry of the Environment.

In addition, there will be on-going consultation and discussion with the community regarding design concepts for stops and stations, aside from the issues of provincial significance examined through the environmental assessment process.

Will this information be available on the website?

Yes. Information about the changes to the proposed route will be available on The Crosstown project website.

Surface related issues

Did Metrolinx know about the “new property constraints” related to the condominiums under construction on the south side of Eglinton?

The application for development at the site was known during the preparation of the Environmental Project Report (EPR), but the timing was not confirmed.

Was Metrolinx aware in 2010 that there was contaminated soil in that area?

Yes. The draft EPR included a “Contamination Overview Study” to identify known and potential sources of environmental impact through a review of databases. The review showed a landfill with a location about 250 metres from the proposed launch site. However, the results of more detailed subsurface investigation and sampling were not available in 2010.

Why were these aspects not taken into account by Metrolinx in 2010?

When the design phase of the project implementation was undertaken after the EPR was approved, more detailed subsurface investigations were undertaken related to soil and groundwater conditions. The subsurface investigations were conducted in three stages as Stage-1 (between late 2010 to early 2011), Stage-2 (late 2011 to early 2012) and Stage-3 (mid 2012 to early 2013).

Stage-1 did not discover much contamination. However, the subsequent investigations (Stage-2 and Stage-3) revealed the conditions that are now known.

Has Metrolinx fully considered:

1. A bridge or viaduct over the Leslie ravine?

The original concept included a surface LRT on the existing bridge over the ravine. Other alternatives investigated during the design phase included a new separate LRT bridge over the ravine.

2. A bridge or viaduct over part of that ravine, to allow a station to be built at Leslie?

A bridge would have to span the entire ravine.

How much of the new plan is determined by a resistance on the part of Metrolinx to expropriation of privately-owned land (e.g. at Leslie/Eglinton)?

Metrolinx is acquiring a portion of private property owned by Celestica with the revised alignment.

Why should Ontario taxpayers pay the additional costs of extended tunneling of the line in order to protect the privately-owned condominiums on the south side of Eglinton, or the land below the auto showroom on the north side of Eglinton at Leslie?

The estimate for extending the tunnel to Don Mills does not increase the cost of the project.

Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) issues

What is the anticipated cost of constructing the extended tunnel and how does this compare with the original proposal?

The proposed alignment will increase tunneling costs, as the length of the tunnel would increase by approximately one kilometer. However, cost savings associated with the elimination of a terminal track at Laird Station and the elimination of the requirement for a second tunnel launch/extraction area at Bayview Avenue offset the additional tunnel costs.

What are the anticipated operating costs (2010 vs. 2012) both on an annual and life-time basis?

There is no change in LRT operating costs between the options. The service level of the LRT is not affected by the change in launch location.

Construction issues

How long will the construction last for each station?

Station construction is expected to require a minimum of two years’ work to complete.

What will the impact be on the buildings on the east side of Don Mills? Will there be any possible damage?

The launch shaft work will be on the west side of the intersection of Don Mills. Noise and vibration levels must be kept within acceptable limits. Before construction a pre-construction survey will be undertaken within limits to identify possible issues before tunnelling. During construction, vibration will be monitored on site.

What will be done to stop truck and car drivers from cutting through side streets to avoid construction congestion?

Metrolinx will be working with the contractor to determine what haul routes are acceptable. Traffic staging plans will require approval from the City of Toronto.

How long will the launch shaft take to construct?

Preliminary utility works and excavation of the launch shaft and appropriate supports is expected to take approximately two years.

Other

When do you expect to issue the Request for Proposals for the east alignment?

Metrolinx plans to issue the contracts for tunneling in spring 2013 and have a contractor in place by summer 2013.