Sheppard East LRT to Terminate at Don Mills

At yesterday’s Commission Meeting of the TTC,  the current state of the Sheppard LRT project was discussed. As reported on Steve Munro’s website, TTC staff reported that the EA document is now being considered by the Ministry of the Environment who had sought clarification on whether the Sheppard Subway was to be extended.  Staff will formally recommend later in April that the LRT line come into Don Mills Station rather than ending at Consumers Road.

Whether the plan to take the LRT line all the way to Don Mills involves having it arrive at the same level as the subway, or at the mezzanine level remains to be decided. Given that the plans for the Finch LRT now involve coming east to Don Mills and going down Don Mills to the subway station, I suspect that a mezzanine level would be more conducive to a through-service for both the Finch and Don Mills lines.

One Response to “Sheppard East LRT to Terminate at Don Mills”

  1. Michael Forest Says:

    If the Finch LRT line runs east of Yonge, it should go further than Don Mills. The present design with the Finch E - Don Mills bypass is not very good for transit service to Seneca College, and on Finch East in general.

    Cal’s comment: I agree that Seneca is a major trip generator and should somehow be served. All of Finch is a very good candidate, but I suspect that Sheppard was targeted for a number of politically-related reasons. First, is the Sheppard subway. Sheppard does not support the load necessary to justify a full subway line, but the idea of extending it will haunt us forever. The problem with this is that a lot of capital gets tied up in extending subway lines “one more stop” instead of going to projects that will benefit a much wider part of the population. With an LRT line running east from Don Mills, it becomes several orders of magnitude harder to justify any “one more stop” proposals.

    Another reason, and one that I suspect has put Sheppard ahead of all others on the list, is that Sheppard East is perhaps the best main road for showcasing LRT implemented in a median. A great number of the main streets that were under the umbrella of Metro Toronto back before amalgamation (such as both Finch and Sheppard) were designed so that the road right of way would allow widening to seven lanes (three in each direction with a double left turn lane in the middle). Except where some older properties had buildings close to the road prior to this planning decision to be made, this has been the case. However, Sheppard is one of the few roads with this much road allowance that remains unused. Sheppard is only seven lanes wide west of Pharmacy, from there it is only five lanes wide for most of the way, and even only four in some places. The Transit City plans call for only two lanes in each direction, so Sheppard gets built without losing very much current car lanes (except west of Pharmacy).

    Getting back to Seneca, I have suggested on Steve Munro’s site that perhaps the connection could be down the 404 alignment, which would allow Seneca to be served. Given that Finch is rather narrow between Bathurst and Bayview, I wouldn’t mind seeing the line shift about 400 metres north to the hydro right of way (having hydro allow this is a whole other issue, though) and if it stayed there until just east of Don Mills, it could possibly cut through the Seneca campus with a stop that could be quite centrally located on campus - no walking in from Finch!

    The best option would be to extend the Finch line far enough so Finch becomes a Crosstown route. Then, direct connection to Sheppard East LRT will not be needed. This should not be prohibitively expensive. The “bypass” (Finch/Yonge to Sheppard/Don Mills) would be about 7 km long, whereas a line from Yonge to McCowan would be about 13 km long. Extra 6 km at 50 million per km would cost about 300 million.

    If they feel that direct connection to Sheppard LRT is a must, then at least they should bend the Finch line south at a later point, rather then at Don Mills. Running it east of 404 to Consumers (as Karl Junkin and you suggested) is better than the current design, as it would provide LRT service to Seneca. But I think that Vic Park or Warden would be even better. The further east, the better, as that means lesser sacrifice of the continuity of Finch E service for the sake of Crosstown function.

    It should also be noted that the current design involves very complex, and potentially costly, underground additions to Don Mills station. In contrast, the LRT connection at Consumers, Vic Park, or Warden can be made at surface level. Note that the original TC plan expected that Don Mills LRT will cross Sheppard at surface level. Only the terminus of Sheppard East LRT was to be underground.

    Cal’s comment: I suspect that there may be a case for Finch East LRT in addition to a Sheppard East LRT. So let me go out on a limb and say that perhaps the Yonge/Finch to Don Mills/Sheppard piece is roughly the first five kilometres of a Finch East LRT and the first two kilometres of the Don Mills LRT to be built and will be operated as a through-service. Eventually, Don Mills will be built possibly as far north as Highway 7 and at least as far south to Eglinton (again, I believe that south of here should be part of the eastern DRL subway) and at some point, Finch will go further east. Once it does, the need for the through-service may disappear and the two lines may be operated separately.