Taking it to the Street

It took a village to raise that baby!

Beautiful day on Roncesvalles avenue showing passengers boarding streetcar, trees, plant beds and shoppers.With a team of many BIA members, TTC delegates, advocating residents, and City of Toronto officials, the long, arduous task of co – creating the Roncesvalles streetscape was a group effort.  The process was based on consultation, collaboration and transparency.

Several members of RoncyWorks were involved in the process and are pleased to report that Roncy’s development history is intact, safe and on the cutting edge of experimental projects.  For example the Greening of Roncy by local volunteers and the success of the Cigarette Litter Prevention Campaign is inspiring other neighbourhoods.

Creating an accessible street that people would enjoy for generations was the group mandate. And, if the TTC has to make some adjustments to get that perfect, well that’s OK with me.

The group had to scale their vision to budget and other limitations, while pursuing the common interests of all businesses, residents, motorists, cyclists, transit users and pedestrians of all ages — some with strollers, walkers or wheelchairs.

Roncy Works… because we all work together.

More on:  Community engagement with Roncesvalles Renewed

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No rip ups planned along Roncy

TTC work anticipated for 2016

access ramp from new street car

A step-free access ramp will be located at the second doorway of each new TTC streetcar. (Randy Risling / Toronto Star)

To accommodate the accessible ramps for the new streetcars that will be traveling along the 504 route, some minor adjustments will need to be made to TTC designed bump outs along Roncesvalles.

Correction: Back when the TTC bump outs were being installed there were still some unknowns. In fact, the ramp design for the bump outs was not finalized until 2013. [The original plans of 2011 were modified and finalized in 2013, before TTC had settled on the purchasing of the expected, new streetcars.]

According to TTC Executive Director of Corporate Communications, Brad Ross, “not the entire bump out will be adjusted, just a 4 square metre area of each bump out.  The work is slated for 2016 and will be done during non-peak times.”

There will be the odd lane restriction, but the road will not be closed, the track will not be ripped out along Roncy, motorists, pedestrians and cyclists will still be able to use the road, bike lanes and sidewalks.

When asked, Councillor Gord Perks commented that it is his understanding “the TTC will concentrate their efforts on Spadina, Bathurst and Dundas accessibility issues first. “Roncevalles will only experience minimal disruption during non peak hours and work will be done quickly in days, not months.”

In terms of timing, the TTC is aiming to co-ordinate this work with the City of Toronto and coincide construction with the already scheduled intersection rebuild at Queen-King-Roncesvalles-Queensway.  Streetcars will be out of service as a result of the intersection work, but will be replaced by scheduled buses.

“Rest assured, the TTC is sensitive to further disruption to the community and will do all it can to mitigate disruption,” says Ross. “There will be lots of signage and advance notice to the community and businesses”.

What’s with the tar in the tiles?

Asphalt patches between tiles on sidewalk is a temporary fix for the winter

Temporary fix for pedestrian safety

A couple of days ago workers came to parts of Roncesvalles — primarily between Fermanagh and Fern — to remove loose sidewalk pavers that the City deemed a tripping hazard.

These loose pavers were removed and replaced with an asphalt patch for the remainder of winter.

The City informed the BIA that this is a temporary fix for now and that the problem areas will be fixed permanently and to the BIA’s satisfaction when warmer weather arrives.

How the pavers came loose in the first place is another question. Perhaps as the grounds settles and shifts, particularly when water gets under the tiles and then freezes, it can cause some tiles to shift.

While we’re all disappointed by the appearance of black patches on our sidewalks, it’s clear that the safety of pedestrians has to come first.

New water mains and sewer lines.

As the picture on the right shows, our water and sewer lines were in bad shape. Many of the city’s lines are 80 years old, ours included. One result (in addition to lost water and sewage leaks) is the daily radio traffic report with their lists of pipe breaks. In fact, during the latter part of the Roncesvalles work Westminster Avenue was blocked for a day because an old clay sewer pipe collapsed in the middle of the street.

We’re all familiar with the piles of rubble and the large noisy machines we endured for months. Sewer pipes are buried nearly 4 meters below the service, and the water mains (which run under the west sidewalk) are nearly 2 meters down. So, the centre of the street and the west sidewalk had to be removed, and the required ditches dug. Everything, from concrete, asphalt, old streetcar tracks and then the old sewer and water lines had to be taken out, the last two in carefully planned phases.

Of course, this was not a mere matter of digging with excavators and shovels. There are networks of gas pipes and telephone and TV cable lines “down there.” In theory, these were mapped out with painted marks and lines as well as official drawing, but time, sand, and even clay shifts. Even so, remarkably few lines were broken.

Fortunately, most of the telephone lines are encased in a concrete “pipe” along the east side of Roncesvalles, though some of the TV Cable lines are not encased.

Many labourers spent many hours in ditches to renew our services.

The Roncesvalles Village Water and Sewer Renewal slide show includes captions explain the various tasks.

TTC tracks and overhead cables

Installing the new streetcar tracks and overhead cables required very specialized skills, so the work was done by the appropriate TTC crews (trackwork and cablework).

They were fortunate in that they did not have to dig out the old material. They did  have to work in coordination with the pavement contractor. The trackwork required three concrete pourings: the base on which the steel cross-ties were laid, the middle level that anchored those cross-ties, and then the street-level layer. The last was poured after the final rail alignments, of course.

Cross-ties are formed with the rail lockings in place, so the ties had to be placed by plan, of course, but adjusted the actual street conditions. You may see one slide where the tracks barely miss a sewer access. The tracks also had to be placed to account for the new bumpout transit stops. And, of course, each pair of rails had to be kept a specified distance from the other, hence, the photo showing the crew moving a pair of rails in front of Home Hardware.

The Howard Park/Roncesvalles intersection required midnight shift work because the “diamond” (the actual four-way rail intersection was one piece, as were each of the switch tracks (“points”). Each adjoining rail had to be cut and welded in place.

Each rail joint was welded, unlike the old system in which rail sections were bolted. no more “clunk-clunk” when the wheels cross rail joints.

The cables, too, required careful placement, as the actual bare wire must be centered between its pair of rails. The wires also have to move along with the tension from the car, but within limits. Four trucks of crews worked each night, leapfrogging while maintaining proper tension and alignment.

The slide show of track work and the slide show of cable work include some fairly dramatic night pictures as well as some of the cool machines they used for the heavy work.