I made it out to tonight’s open house at the CNIB Conference Centre. I managed to get a Transit City button and an Eglinton Crosstown button.
I prepared most of my comments ahead of time and attached a printed sheet with the following on it:
The Eglinton-Crosstown LRT has the potential to be an extremely important part of Toronto’s transit network. Station spacing and design are well though out.
However, there are several issues in the design that have the potential to detract from its benefits and attractiveness to the public:
1) Not taking advantage of side-of-the-road right of ways.
A side-of-the-road right of way is not practical where driveways for parking access enter the main road by crossing the right of way, and while there are few opportunities where this situation does not exist within Toronto, Eglinton has two significant stretches that should be taken advantage of: one on its south side from Don Mills west to the eastern portal of the underground section, and the other on its north side west from Jane Street.
The first has no driveways at all and geography dictates that this will continue to be the case. There is one ramp-accessed driveway that is easily avoided by shifting the alignment approximately 100 metres to the south. The second makes use of land that was originally reserved for a new expressway. While there are future development possibilities along this section, the presence of a side-of-the-road LRT right of way can, and should, dictate the development plans to reflect parking access via secondary roads. This is a common practice in GTA municipalities outside of Toronto even without rapid transit plans.
One advantage of a side-of-the-road right of way includes less interference with traffic, which benefits both LRT operations and lessens the impact due to changes to automobile traffic arrangements such as left turns at intersections. LRT crossings of side streets can have railway-type crossing signals and gates that are interlocked to the traffic signals at the intersection (see the photo of Minneapolis’ Hiawatha Avenue for an example).
A side-of-the-road right of way also has the advantage of being less costly to build as ballasted tie construction may be used. For the eastern section, an added benefit is that if future needs dictate running longer trains in the tunnel that are not practical in a median right of way, this operation can extend as far east as Don Mills, where it is expected that a major connection hub will exist. This alignment would require a new underpass at the railway east of Leslie, but the lower cost of ballasted tie construction for this 2-km section should nearly balance that out. Since the station at Don Mills Road will be underground, the transition from side-of-the-road to median can be accomplished without the need for any traffic controlling signals.
2) Out of the way access to the airport that misses significant trip-generators.In an attempt to serve a connection with the Mississauga BRT station at Commerce as well as the airport, an inconvenient out-of-the-way trip that misses significant trip-generators is required.A better approach would be to build two branches west of Martin Grove. One would follow the proposed alignment to Commerce to connect with the BRT station. The other could basically follow Highway 27 (again, using a side-of-the-road right of way) and Dixon Road into the airport. In addition to providing a more direct route to the airport, this line will serve the hotels located on Dixon Road with a convenient transit choice into the city.\
The added cost for this crossing over Highway 401 could be covered by the savings from ballasted tie construction for a side-of-the-road right of way west of Jane Street.
3) Poor connection with Mississauga BRT.
Pedestrian access between the LRT and the BRT station is somewhat awkward, and potentially dangerous with added crossing traffic on foot. An LRT alignment that uses a side-of-the-road right of way would facilitate a same-level transfer facility at this station.
The possibility of Mississauga implementing LRT operations in the future would also take advantage of such an arrangement by sharing platforms or perhaps even with run-through services.
4) Possible problems with Median U-turns
It is hoped that proper consideration and design are given to the operation of the signals at intersections and their corresponding signalised median U-turns. If not, LRT operations may be drastically disturbed by three traffic signals, rather than just one.
In addition to these comments, I also added two hand-written points. One was to encourage better planning for connections with GO Transit as these will become an important part of the transit network by the time the line opens. The other was to encourage rescheduling the construction to permit a phase one opening from Pearson Airport to Allen Road in time for the Pan Am games.