New sidewalks and street paving

After the street and tracks were done, the complicated task of forming the new sidewalks began. The old double-level walks between Grenadier and Constance became a standard single level one. The new bumpouts with the streetcar and bicycle ramps were installed. Block by block, crews leveled and packed the soil, built the wooden forms, and then poured and finished the concrete on the west side and installed the paving blocks on the east side. In addition they placed the special rubber Eco-Flex tiles around the tree at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church.

Curbs were formed with a large specialized machine. Heavy machines and teams of guys on the ground installed the tree planting network on the east side. The sidewalk actually sits on risers to prevent compaction of the soil, much to the relief of the new trees.

A moving line of  specialized vehicles placed the asphalt between the tracks and the sidewalks.

The various tasks can be viewed in my slide show.

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Community Tree Planting 2011

On May 14, 2011, it was a bright spring morning when 20+ volunteers, including our local Councillor – Gord Perks – came out to dig holes and plant trees on the west side of Roncesvalles.

See slide show of our community’s tree planting, courtesy of local photographer Tom Kane.

Friends pitched in to plant an oak tree at 106 Roncesvalles Avenue.

This group of 11 year-olds will grow up to see a mighty oak become part of the Roncesvalles Avenue tree canopy, thanks to their planting efforts. It was a memorable way way to celebrated their friend’s birthday. Photo Credit: Tom Kane

Globe and Mail on Roncesvalles renewal: “The result is quite marvellous.”

Spurred by a recent column in the Globe and Mail, John Bowker of the RV BIA shares his reflections.

On June 17, the Globe and Mail’s Marcus Gee wrote a column about the Bloor Street reconstruction, and briefly mentioned Roncesvalles. He writes:

On Roncesvalles Avenue, too, a major renovation is coming to a happy end. As on Bloor, the street had to be torn up for major work – in Roncey’s case, the laying of new streetcar tracks. The merchants took advantage of the opportunity to spruce up the streetscape. Handsome, pale grey paving stone has been laid for the new, wider sidewalk, with planters, benches and raised transit stops that allow easier access to streetcars for strollers and wheelchairs. New street-level tree planters, replacing the old, raised “tree coffins,” hold 85 new trees, from oaks to maples to chestnuts.

There were delays here, too, and lots of complaints from irritated merchants and residents. The belated discovery that a gas main lay too close to the new tracks meant that the project could not be finished last fall as expected. A dispute with a contractor over manpower caused holdups, too. But the job is on budget and just two weeks from completion, city officials say, with crews laying the final paving stones, putting in bike rings and clearing debris. Councillor Gord Perks says the city held no fewer than 37 community meetings on the design of the street, dealing with everything from the colour of the pavers to the design of the tree grates.

The result is quite marvellous. Roncesvalles, always a lively street, with its pastry shops, delis, bike stores, public library and Revue cinema, was looking a little tired before the do-over. The renovation has given it a fresh, new face. For all the pain they cause, projects like these are just what an ambitious city should be doing, seizing the chance to transform mediocre streetscapes into something better.

It’s nice to see that the hard work of the past several years is showing great results! But as nice as Bloor Street looks, the Roncesvalles reconstruction was different in a few important ways:

The digging is done

The project is on track. The sidewalks are tiled; the road is smooth; the streetcar tracks are in; the bike ramps are paved; and most of the bus shelters are in place.

We now have 82 new trees on the east side taking root in conditions where they should thrive and new plants in some of the planting beds. On the west side, 18 new trees were planted on private property with the help of community volunteers. In short, the way is paved for an awesome avenue.

But the project isn’t finished yet. We’re now waiting for the remaining bike rings to be installed, hoping this will be done soon so people will stop locking their bikes to the new trees. The trash bins are coming. There is more street furniture to come including benches once all of the other priority elements are in place.  And, finally, in the fall, once the soil has settled around the new trees, tree grates will be installed at grade and new tree guards put up around the trees.