Let’s look at that confusing stretch of road between Bayview Avenue and City Centre Avenue. Legally known as Albert Street, many folks persist in calling it Scott Street (which only runs west of Bayview). It’s a bleak and uninviting bit of road. Pedestrian windblown slush-washed hell. A gutter-bunny cyclist horror as the continual S-curves in the road lead cars too close to the curb line and bus mirrors barely clear heads.
The Bayview LRT Station is well underway there. It has been draped in a plastic tent to make for a safer and less windy work environment, which has the side effect of making it visible to passers by as a sort of ghost-of-good-things-to-come building:
I find it interesting that workers cannot be expected to work productively outdoors here, but transit users will be waiting on outdoor platforms. At least I guess they will, since station plans and layouts have not be released by the city. You don’t need to know.
Mind, the downstairs level will have some indoor spaces, presumably heated. And the escalators will apparently be indoors too, after the city spent years insisting they could run just fine outdoors, like no where else in the winter world.
Scott street level Albert street level, the temporary bus stop near Tom Brown bears all the hallmarks of careful planning. Pedestrians are apparently supposed to walk 100′ one way just to do a hairpin turn and walk back again, this time about 2′ lower down. Natch, pedestrians created an instant desire line trail:
This short bit of former-lawn couldn’t be paved to reflect where pedestrians want to walk because it wasn’t the official sidewalk, and probably because the slope was too steep to be “accessible”. Nor could a three-stair precast step be installed, due to the danger.
The previous pedestrian-created desire line on the slope also met numerous excuses why it couldn’t be fixed.
The sidewalk is undercut by (pedestrian-caused slope-)erosion, and the city seems determined not to maintain nor repair it. I do wonder if they are hoping the sidewalk will collapse, so they can blame people for wanting to take the most direct route rather than the planners indirect circuitous route, and then close the walkway for months (“pending repairs”) as a sort of punishment. Am I being too cynical? I don’t mean to be.
Peds being forced to use the detour pathway along side Tom Brown arena are treated to more planning follies…
Yup, the main transfer and connection pathway floods when it rains. Or thaws. Or rains on snow. Because the city mandated that the pathway be “integrated” into the landscape, which means not raised (for drainage) nor protected with a ditch or swale from runoff coming downslope. Water is supposed to just run off over the surface of the pathway. Surely pedestrians or cyclists would never notice the puddles or ice?!
Surely they need the exercise?
Of course, we never let motorists enjoy this. No, roads must be elevated above the surroundings, with ditches or pipes to steer the water away, and water must never drain over the surface of the road. Too dangerous.
The first year this path was installed, and flooded, I met the designing engineer. I mentioned that the policy of “integrating” pathways into the slope was not helpful. Probably coincidentally, the next set of pathways built on the north side of the station all have intercepting drainage ditches on the upslope of the pathways, and little pipes where necessary to drain the water under the asphalt. Shocking but true. I remain hopeful that no more “integrated” pathways will be built.
If you chose to avoid the walk through the construction zone, there is always Albert Street sidewalk above:
It’s a long way from being a generous space. Mind it is better than it was built back in 1969 up to 2000. For in that 30 year period the sidewalk was flush with the road surface, separated from the vehicles by a tiny raised curb. Impossible to plow, it flooded all winter (the road drained to the sidewalk, then over the sidewalk to the catch basins, if my memory serves me right). And there was no sidewalk at all on the north side. That was added (back in 2001?) because provincial rules required it.
It is a horrible place to walk:
The city does have plans to improve this stretch of ugly road between Bayview Road and City Centre Avenue.
Recall that Albert going east (towards the downtown) has already been approved for conversion to complete street once the majority of the transit buses are off it (spring 2019, we hope). The complete street has cycle tracks that are raised above the curb, level with the sidewalk, to keep cyclists and motorists separated for safety. See Churchill, or Main Street.
But the section of Scott proceeding west (towards Tunney’s) will not becoming a complete street, at least not in the next five years. It will remain like this, with a painted cycle lane and protective plastic posts:
The detailed street design has apparently yet to be done for Albert Street between Bayview to City Centre Avenue. But we know there are problems. I hear hints.
One is the width of the bridge itself may be insufficient to allow for three traffic lanes (two westbound, one eastbound) plus raised cycle tracks plus sidewalks. In this story, the cycle facility may be just a painted lane. Without a painted buffer. Maybe with 3-season plastic stakes.
Personally, I think those lanes will be very scary. Traffic too easily drifts too close to the curbs, and the elevation of the road induces motorists to speed.
A second issue is that the bridge structure is existing, not new. So there are restrictive rules about adding additional weight of a cycle track. Very expensive engineering tests may be required.
I think there is an easy fix to this. Remove the current curbside pavement. Glue down a series of plastic pipes, like a raft, and lay the track on top of the hollow base. The sidewalk on the Booth Street Freeway portion by Pimisi Station is built exactly this way. Or make the underlay out of sheets of lightweight foam, like the bus entrance to Tunney’s today crosses the transitway trench. Hwy 416 also has miles of freeway built this way out Fallowfield way. Styroam is sometimes cheaper than dirt for fill, and weighs much less. And on a bridge, weight is important.
The track weighs too much argument doesn’t apply to the approach slopes, uphill from Bayview Road or from City Centre Avenue. So for the four approaches to the bridge, a new sidewalk and cycle track could be built by widening the top of the slope by a few feet. Thus the curvy-sections of the approaches would be on protected and well designed tracks, while just the straight portion over the actual bridge could be left at road level (protected by plastic stakes). Not perfect, but an improvement over today’s horror show..
I do fear the city may chose the third option: painted lane all the way from Bayview Road to City Centre Avenue. It has the virtue of cheapness. And the ready made excuse that it can be fixed some day in the future. Just don’t get run over in the meantime.
With Albert Street being redesigned and reconstructed from downtown’s Bay Street all the way to City Centre Avenue in 2019-2021, I think the worst scenario would be a hodge-podge of road designs and configurations where the type of facilities changes block by block. The city made a commitment to complete streets. Anything else put here under the guise of “temporary” would be criminal malpractice. By time all of Albert is completed (pun intended!) it would be time to finalize plans to continue the complete street design westwards along Scott.
I still don’t have confirmation of a December date for a public open house, at Tom Brown, where you can
- eyeball the Holland intersection and tell staff to “complete” the Holland and TPDriveway legs of intersection (see previous stories in this series)
- remind staff that the access point for maintenance vehicles to the tracks, opposite Merton St , is to be a driveway that crosses a MUP and not a MUP that yields to useless traffic lights
- advocate for a complete Albert street that extends all the way from Bayview Road to Bay Street. It’s all being rebuilt in the next few years, let’s do it right.