Metrolinx has announced that all vehicle traffic will be diverted off Queen Street from Bay Street to Yonge Street and from Yonge Street to Victoria Street for an estimated four and a half years beginning May 1, 2023, marking an important step forward in the construction of Ontario Line's future Queen Station.
With heavily built-up infrastructure both above and underground in the area—particularly the TTC’s Line 1 and its existing Queen subway station—construction of the Ontario Line subway project must take place in the roadway, a release said.
Closing this section of street to vehicle traffic is expected to cut construction time for the project by about a year compared to a method that would involve multiple partial closures. This means commuters will be able to reap the benefits of the Ontario Line sooner and with less disruption to the community, Metrolinx said.
Commuters will also benefit from greater predictability as a result of the full closure. During construction, modified streetcar service will provide consistent access into and out of the downtown area.
“We’ve been working closely with our partners at the City of Toronto and the TTC to coordinate construction and keep people moving safely and efficiently,” said Malcolm MacKay, Metrolinx’s Ontario Line program sponsor.
Officials anticipate that the Ontario Line Queen Station will be the busiest on the line, with nearly 17,000 people passing through during rush hour and connecting to 150,000 jobs in the area. The station will also serve as a vital transfer point for those seeking to transfer quickly and easily between the existing Line 1 subway, TTC surface routes, and the Ontario Line, a release said.
Connections like the one at Queen Station exemplify why the Ontario Line is expected to accommodate nearly 400,000 daily trips while reducing crowding on the TTC’s congested Line 1 by up to 15%.
Building permanent detour infrastructure for the TTC’s 501 Queen streetcar route is part of a plan developed by Metrolinx, the City of Toronto, and the TTC to keep Toronto commuters moving during the planned Ontario Line construction, Metrolinx said.
This infrastructure, which is slated to be finished in 2024, will also improve transit in the downtown core long after the Ontario Line is operational by providing an alternate streetcar route when special events or road work are taking place the area.
The permanent streetcar detour tracks will connect via York Street and Church Street, running along Adelaide and Richmond streets.
After watermain replacement work on Adelaide Street is completed, work on the streetcar infrastructure upgrades required for that section of the detour will begin, according to a release.
“We’ve been working closely with our partners on how to speed up delivery of the detour work on Adelaide,” MacKay said.
Though the permanent detour will be implemented later, the TTC will provide continuous east-west streetcar service on the 501 streetcar beginning May 1. Existing streetcars will detour onto Dundas Street at McCaul Street in the west and Broadview Avenue in the east while the new detour tracks are built.
In this area of downtown, the TTC will also add new bus service, which will run westbound on Richmond Street and eastbound on King Street via Bay Street and Church Street. Westbound service will start at Broadview Avenue, while eastbound service will start at Bathurst Street.
Metrolinx said the agency is collaborating with the city of Toronto, TTC, utility companies, and others to ensure a coordinated approach to managing traffic impacts, establishing alternate transit routes, and providing commuters with predictability in trip planning.
Metrolinx will also form a community liaison committee for this area, which will serve as a collaborative forum for developing innovative solutions and mitigation strategies to reduce the impact on businesses and communities. These working groups will be present along the entire Ontario Line route.