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Why is this study taking place now?
In 2012, City Council directed staff to carry out an Environmental Assessment (EA) Study to investigate solutions to improve traffic congestion on St Clair Avenue West between Keele Street and Old Weston Road. A Transportation Master Plan (TMP) study commenced in summer 2015, and a notice of commencement was issued, following the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment process. The TMP is necessary to improve local transportation options, including connections for public transit, pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers and access to the new St.Clair-Old Weston SmartTrack station.
What is an Environmental Assessment?
Ontario’s Environmental Assessment (EA) program promotes good environmental planning by determining and managing the potential effects of a project prior to implementation. The EA program ensures that public concerns are heard, and balances economic, social, cultural and natural environmental needs so that projects benefit Ontario. This is an approved approach to satisfying requirements of the Environmental Assessment Act specifically tailored to municipal infrastructure. The process includes identifying the problem or opportunity to be addressed, developing and evaluating a range of alternative solutions, providing opportunities for public input and identifying a preferred solution.
How have solutions been evaluated?
The TMP uses a list of criteria to evaluate solutions and consider cost, improvements for all modes of travel, impact to the natural, socio-economic and cultural environments, and property impacts. Following the December 2015 public event, City staff and the TMP Project Team completed detailed evaluations of all potential solutions including study of:
- traffic movement and travel patterns to identify how each solution will impact travel time and movement
- construction and engineering feasibility to determine how solutions would need to be built
- costs of construction of each solution
- potential impacts to the natural, cultural, and socio-economic environment, and
- connections and access to the new St. Clair-Old Weston SmartTrack station planned along the existing Kitchener GO rail corridor at St. Clair Avenue West.
What happens once the study is complete?
Once the study is complete, a Notice of Completion will be issued with information on how the public can submit comments within a 30-day review period. The Notice of Completion will be posted to the project website, published in local newspapers and sent to the project email and stakeholder lists.
If a member of the public feels that there are significant outstanding issues that have not been addressed in the Environmental Assessment process, they can submit a Part II Order request during the 30-day review period. More information on making a Part II Order request is available online here. Should the 30-day review period pass without any Part II Order requests being requested, the recommended plan will move forward for implementation. City staff will begin working with Metrolinx to deliver the detailed design to finalize the recommended solution, staging, funding, property acquisition and timing for construction.
Construction of both the SmartTrack Station facilities and the TMP recommendations are planned to be delivered by Metrolinx. Appropriate steps will be taken to ensure property is secured for the necessary road configuration, SmartTrack station, and right-of-way.
When will construction start?
The TMP EA recommends that all infrastructure improvements be delivered as part of one construction project with the St. Clair-Old Weston SmartTrack Station. Timing for construction is dependent on the availability of funding, property acquisition, completion of detailed engineering designs and receipt of planning approvals and permits. The earliest construction is expected to begin is 2020 and is estimated to take approximately 4-5 years to complete.
What are the expected changes to vehicle traffic on local roads?
Our studies show that with the recommended improvements the majority of vehicles will use St. Clair Avenue West between Keele Street and Old Weston Road, as well as the new Gunns Road, Keele Avenue and Davenport Road extensions. Some nearby local roads will see a small increase in traffic. A monitoring program will help determine whether traffic mitigation is necessary once all the improvements are operational.
What efforts will be made to mitigate construction inconveniences?
During construction road users should expect delays and increased traffic on nearby streets. Efforts will be made to manage traffic in the area for the safety of workers, road users and residents. Some of these efforts may include adding local access signs and revising traffic signal times. In order to complete the work in a safe manner, there may be road and sidewalk restrictions within the construction work zone. Access for emergency vehicles will be maintained at all times.The contractor will notify residents and businesses of any temporary restrictions to driveway access. If a property has two entrances, one entrance will be kept open at all times. The City has the legal authority to undertake municipal projects on publicly-owned land without paying compensation to adjacent property owners, provided the work is carried out reasonably, prudently and without negligence.
How is the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) being coordinated with the SmartTrack Station and Regional Express Rail?
The City is working closely with Metrolinx to coordinate SmartTrack station planning, the Regional Express Rail (RER) Program and the TMP recommended improvements. All of the recommended infrastructure improvements have been developed with regard for the planned St. Clair-Old Weston SmartTrack station and the need to provide improved accessibility to the SmartTrack station from the surrounding transportation network.
How have pedestrians and cyclists been considered as part of this Study?
The Transportation Master Plan (TMP) follows the City’s Complete Streets guidelines with improvements designed for the safety of all users including people who walk, bicycle, take transit or drive, and people of varying ages and ability.
What are the recommended improvements to the cycling network?
Following the Council-approved Cycling Network Plan, the TMP recommends that:
- existing bike lanes on Davenport Road be extended north to the new SmartTrack Station as a boulevard multi-use trail
- new bike lanes are included in the Keele Street extension
- a new boulevard multi-use trail is included on the Gunn’s Road extension and on Union Street to extend the existing Lavender Creek Trail to the new SmartTrack Station.
Will the West Toronto Railpath be improved or impacted by this Study?
Planned improvements to the West Toronto Railpath are described below:
- On-street extension of bike lanes on Osler Street to connect to existing bike lanes on Davenport Road (from current northern terminus of the Railpath at Cariboo Avenue)
- New bike lanes on the Davenport extension, from Old Weston Road to Union Street
- New multi-use trail (bi-directional) on the west side of Union Street (Davenport extension to the Gunns Road extension)
- New multi-use trail (bi-directional) on the north side of the Gunns Road extension, connecting to the Lavender Creek Trail/Black Creek Trail
How can I comment on the results of the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) Study?
All stakeholders, including potentially affected property owners, are invited to provide comments at any time in the study process. In addition to the public meetings, potentially affected property owners have received written notification from the City inviting further discussion and comment. All comments received are included in the consultation record reviewed by the City and are taken into account as the study progresses.
Robyn Shyllit, Sr. Public Consultation Coordinator. Telephone: 416-392-3358 Email: Robyn.Shyllit@toronto.ca
What public consultation has taken place already?
Key points of contact have included the first public meeting held on December 2, 2015, and the second round of public events in June of 2018. Information on the project was also available at public meetings for the new SmartTrack/GO stations held in February 2016, October 2017 and March 2018.
How are people notified about project updates and public meetings?
Notification for all public events include:
- Advertisement in local community and ethnic newspapers
- Flyer delivery to all residents and businesses in the study area
- Email updates to individuals on the project email list, stakeholder groups, agencies, and Indigenous communities
- Emails to local residents organizations, community groups, and businesses
- Project website toronto.ca/stclairwesttmp
Email Robyn.Shyllit@toronto.ca if you would like to be added to the study email list to receive project updates and notification of public events via email.
How are Indigenous Communities involved in the project?
Throughout the Environmental Assessment process, the Project Team engages in regular communications with Indigenous Communities ensuring all project information is conveyed at key project milestones and that opportunity is provided to discuss feedback, concerns, and potential impacts.
Why are there property impacts?
Through the evaluation of alternative solutions the Transportation Master Plan (TMP) recommends infrastructure improvements that have the highest impact to improve transportation options and connectivity for all modes of travel in the study area. Construction of the recommended infrastructure improvements will require the acquisition of property not owned by the City.
What are the expected property impacts?
Property impacts are necessary for all recommended infrastructure improvements. Some of the impacts involve the acquisition of only a small portion of a property, while others require the acquisition of an easement that will allow the use of private property during construction or other specific purposes such as maintaining retaining walls. In other cases, it will be necessary to acquire the entire limits of a property to implement the recommended infrastructure.
How will I know if my property is impacted?
All potentially impacted property owners have been sent letters by registered mail. If you have received a letter but have not yet met with the City, you are encouraged to contact City staff as soon as possible.
When and why was the bridge connecting old Old Weston Road and Junction Road removed?
The bridge was removed in the 1990’s because of a high cost for replacement, and property implications.
Why wasn’t work done to relieve traffic congestion in this area during previous projects?
The level and pace of recent developments in the area was not foreseen during previous projects. This increase in activity has brought more travel demands to the area for vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. For this reason, the TMP accommodates accelerated growth in travel demand throughout the area, not just along St. Clair.
The 2005 St. Clair Transit Right-of-way project did not actually reduce the effective road capacity through this area, so increasing the road capacity across the railway corridor was not part of the scope of that project. A complicating factor following the construction of the transit right-of-way was the rail corridor work that temporarily closed the Junction Road connection across the railway tracks. This limited east-west movement through the area, significantly reduced road capacity, and forced a lot of additional traffic onto St.Clair Avenue.
Improvements to St. Clair have since been made by the City, and the full-time re-opening of Junction Road has returned the effective road capacity across the rail corridor to what existed prior to the transit right-of-way project.
Are there plans for nearby intersections that also experience traffic issues and congestion?
Vehicular congestion at intersections close to the study area have impacts on St. Clair Avenue West. The solutions developed by the Project Team consider traffic across the entire study area. Areas further south like intersections at Dundas/Keele and Dupont/Dundas/Annette, and north like Black Creek/Eglinton intersections require separate study.