New Pedestrian & Cycling Bridge Over Rail Corridor

wide pedestrian bridge with long ramps on both sides
Artistic rendering of the Pedestrian & Cycling Bridge looking south – detailed design to be determined

 

Staff will report on this project to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee of City Council for their approval on July 5, 2021. A copy of the staff report and instructions on how you can arrange to speak or submit comments is available at Item IE 23.18

Overview

Study area to connect the existing Don Mills Trail to the Wynford Drive Extension

The City of Toronto is developing designs for a new pedestrian and cycling bridge over the Canadian Pacific Rail (CPR) corridor to connect the existing Don Mills Trail to the Wynford Drive Extension within the future Crosstown Development at Don Mills Road and Eglinton Avenue East.

This bridge would provide a new multi-use trail connection and access to enjoy the ravine and its natural heritage.

Functional design options for the bridge structure and ramp approaches will be presented, along with a comparative valuation of each alternative and a draft recommendation for a preferred design.

The study is following Phases 3 and 4 of the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (MCEA), a planning and decision-making process for implementing infrastructure projects. Phases 1 and 2 were previously completed within the Don Mills Crossing Mobility Planning Study in 2019.

Recommend design elements include the following:

  • 6.1 metre wide open-air bridge for pedestrians and cyclists
  • Steel I-girder structure using a “steel ribbon” concept for concealing the substructure beneath bridge
  • Accessible by elevated ramps on piers approximately 200 meters long on each side with a grade of no more than 5 per cent
  • An additional staircase connecting the bridge for more direct travel to Street ‘C’

Further elements, such as lighting, public art, signage, and landscaping, will be decided during detail design after completion of this study.

Learn more by reviewing the information panels:

See public consultation summary and further details in response to public questions and comments below.

Staff will report on this project to the Infrastructure and Environment Committee of City Council for their approval on July 5, 2021. A copy of the staff report and instructions on how you can submit comments or speak is available at Item IE 23.18.

The Environmental Study Report for the project will be made available to the public for a 30-day review period.

Following completion of the study, the developer will be responsible for completing the detailed design and constructing the crossing.  We anticipate this bridge can be constructed within the next 5 years.

What We Heard

During the public comment period from March 1 to March 22, 2021, the project team received over 50 submissions via the feedback form, email and phone.

Generally, there was popular support for the bridge. There were questions about the rationale for the recommended preferred design and plans to further enhance the local trail and cycling network. Several questions were posed about whether this study includes the provision of a new trail connection from Leslie Street to the Don Mills Trail on the west side of the rail corridor.

Feedback included a range of design suggestions which will be carried forward into the detailed design process. These suggestions included further consideration for how cyclists and pedestrians will be separated, how the bridge design can be optimized to improve winter maintenance, provide seating where possible, and to ensure that the ramp interfaces with Don Mills Trail and Wynford Drive are safe.

A full public consultation summary report will be included as part of the final Environmental Study Report prepared for this study and posted on the public record.

Answers to Questions Raised During the Public Consultation

 

Tunnel Option Not Recommended

An underground option in the form of a tunnel was considered as part of the 2019 Don Mills Crossing Mobility Planning Study (MPS), which serves as the basis for the current Environmental Assessment. The tunnel option was not preferable as a result of safety concerns and challenges in integrating the ramp with the design of the Wynford Drive extension. It would require lengthy ramps due to grade differences and would be hidden from the roadway presenting security and safety issues. In addition, the lowered tunnel profile presented constructability challenges and limited opportunities for public realm enhancements. 

 

Why the East Side Ramp Goes North, Not South or Switchback

There are a number physical constraints in the immediate area, including the grade of the adjacent Wynford Drive, valley and ravine system, and available land. A switchback ramp design was evaluated and determined to not be feasible as there is insufficient space between the rail corridor and the Wynford Drive extension to accommodate a switchback ramp with a minimum 5-metre turning radius required for cyclists to turn safely (see Figure 1). As illustrated in the drawing below, a switchback design with a 5-metre turning radius will cause the ramp to encroach onto the planned extension of Wynford Drive. Previous Don Mills Crossing MPS and current Environmental Assessment study also identified that a switchback design at this location would make it difficult for cyclists to maneuver, creating a safety concern for both pedestrians and cyclists. 

Figure 1. Switchback Option Encroaching onto Wynford Drive ramp over sidewalk

 

The current ramp design has been developed to meet the requirements outlined in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disability Act, while minimizing the amount of backtracking. However, the east ramp must go north due the grade differences on the south side and inability to connect to the proposed street network. 

An additional staircase connection closer to Street C is being proposed to provide pedestrians and cyclists a more direct way to access the crossing. The staircase can be fitted with channels for cyclists walking their bikes, and other design enhancements can be studied further following the completion of this EA. 

 

Project Timing

We anticipate this bridge can be constructed within the next 5 years. Construction cost will be shared between the City and the developers of 844 Don Mills Road and 1155 Eglinton Avenue East. Funding for the City’s share of construction and a construction year will be identified through Transportation Services division’s capital budget process. 

Planning for this rail corridor crossing is following the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (EA) process, a planning and decision-making framework used across Ontario to undertake new public infrastructure projects. The City is working closely with the developer on this undertaking and our schedules are aligned so that the crossing can be implemented along with redevelopment of the area. Following completion of the EA, the developer will be responsible for completing the detailed design and constructing the crossing. A detailed implementation schedule will be prepared by the developer after the completion of the EA. The City will review and approve the final design of the bridge. 

The scope of this study is limited to the rail corridor crossing and does not include the surrounding street network.   

 

Cycling Connections: East Side of Rail Corridor

Previous planning studies like the Don Mills Crossing MPS identified the transportation network needed to support the redevelopment of this area, including these various trails to enhance and connect the existing active transportation network (See Figure 2). 

Through the redevelopment of 844 Don Mills Road and 1155 Eglinton Avenue East a new multi-use trail will be constructed along the west side of Wynford Drive. How the ramps will interface with the multi-use trail will be determined during the detailed design phase following the completion of the EA study. 

Figure 2. Don Mills Crossing MPS Recommended Transportation Network 

map of routes - see text above

 

Cycling Connections: West Side of Rail Corridor

A connection from the west side of the bridge from the Don Mills Trail west to Leslie Street was not part of the scope of this EA but was considered during the development of design options. Currently, the Don Mills Trail terminates at the approximate location of the future bridge and trail users access Leslie Street using a path on privately owned land not maintained by the City. It is anticipated that a future trail connection to Leslie Street can be secured through the development approval process. During the detailed design phase following completion of the EA, further consideration will be given to the current use and future condition of this connection. 

 

Separating Cyclists and Pedestrians – Design and Rational

The preferred design provided a shared pedestrian and cycling space across the bridge and along the west ramp matching the layout of the Don Mills Trail. The ramp on the east side of the rail corridor proposes a separation of pedestrian and cyclist space matching the planned multi-use trail along Wynford Drive. The design of the interface between ramps and trails will be further developed in the detailed design phase following the completion of this EA study. 

 

Alternate Bridge Locations Considered (Don Mills Crossing MPS)

The Don Mills Crossing MPS concluded that the northwest quadrant of the area currently exhibits poor connectivity in pedestrian and cycling networks with CP Rail Corridor identified as the major barrier to it. As such, a grade separated crossing at the railway location in the form of a tunnel or a bridge emerged as a key recommendation of the MPS. This location will provide the best opportunity for easy pedestrian and cyclist access from the new development to existing Don Mills Trail, Leslie Street, Wilket Creek Park and the greater Don Valley parklands to the west. 

 

Snow Clearing

The bridge and ramps have been designed such that winter maintenance equipment can be accommodated to facilitate snow removal. 

 

Lighting

The preferred design developed through this EA is to a functional level of design, where development of lighting options and other public realm improvements will be a focus of the following detailed design phase. Future consideration will also include integration of public art, signage and wayfinding, landscaping, and the treatments for the ramp landing areas. The design elements will be developed according to parameters set out in the EA and opportunities for public review and comment will be provided.