Written by Lorne Ross, March 2017.
Do you use Progress Avenue to get to school, work, your day care, shopping at Kennedy Commons?
That's the 'Stouffville GO train' rumbling by.
Not much of a problem today. There are only 7 trains running downtown in the morning, then maybe 8 trains returning in the evening. All the res of the day and all weekend, there are no trains. The road is open.
But Toronto and the Province have plans: they want to increase the number of trains dramatically. They plan to spend Billions to:
build a second track,
electrify the whole line and
run trains every 10 minutes... both directions.
Every 10 minutes…that’s 6 trains crossing each way every hour, all day. Since its unlikely the northbound and the southbound train will pass through at the same time, there will likely be 12 interruptions of through traffic every hour: the gates will come down stopping traffic on Progress every 5 minutes…all day. There are about 18,000 vehicles on Progress every weekday, including TTC buses and Atlantic Packaging heavy transports.
Everyone knows what the answer is. Build grade separations: bridges over or tunnels under the tracks just like they did recently on Sheppard. We used to bump over the GO tracks east of Kennedy Road.
Sheppard Underpass at Stouffville GO
Now we drive under the tracks. Works like a charm. Trains do what they want to do. Trucks, buses, cars even pedestrians and the odd cyclist do what they want to do. No conflicts. No accidents.
Just like the overpasses they built to keep traffic moving on Eglinton, Lawrence and Ellesmere when they built the SRT 30 years ago.
But that's not what the Province-Metrolinx is proposing for us.
Their plan for Progress Avenue? Close the road.
Because grade separations cost money. They have Billions to build a wonderful Smart Track-GO train running back and forth to downtown Toronto every 10 minutes. They found just enough left over to build two grade separations: one at Steeles and one at Finch. But not enough for Progress. Nor for Huntingwood, Danforth, McNicoll and Passmore in Scarborough.
Nor for Kennedy Road and Dennison Streets in Markham near the Pacific Mall.
Their plan for all these level crossings? Close the road.
There are +\-140,000 vehicles a day crossing the tracks on these 8 streets. 27,000 people a day ride the TTC buses on McNicoll, Huntingwood, Progress and Danforth. Even more ride the No.2 Dennison bus and the No.8 Kennedy bus in Markham. All told, each day, there may be as many as 200,000 people using Danforth, Progress, Huntingwood, McNicoll, Passmore, Kennedy and Dennison to get to work, to visit their Mom in the nursing home, to shop, go to school. These roads carry our trucks that keep our businesses going. Our school buses. Our emergency vehicles when we need them.
I am reminded of Marie Antoinette: her reply when staff told her the people of Paris were really upset.
They could not afford to buy bread.
Living as she did it made all the sense in the world to say "Well, then let them eat cake."
Today Marie Antoinette sits on the Board of Metrolinx and in our City Planning Department: "Oh, the people of Scarborough are upset? we closed up all their roads with our new trains? Let them take transit!'
Don't put up with this.
Tell Marie Antoinette..sorry… tell the folks below who will make these decisions for you that every one of these grade separations must be in place the day they start operating their new train. If you don’t have enough cash to build your new train and keep our roads open, then don’t build your train.
CEO and President of Metrolinx
Steve Del Duca
Ontario Minister of Transportation
Mayor, City of Toronto
c/o Daniela Magisano, Policy Advisor