The Scott Byron route starts at Bayview and re-uses the Scott corridor transitway trench to Dominion Station. It uses a toenail of the parkway until it can swing inland at Rochester Field, near the Kegg Manor and gardens. At some point, it would cease being a surface rail line and become cut and cover along the Byron right of way.
It is important to notice that the Byron option does not necessitate cut and cover through the dog-walk greenspace that used to be the streetcar right of way. It might be cut and cover under Richmond Road, or under Byron Avenue itself. Byron could certainly use a major re-think, it now functions too much like parallel lanes to Richmond. Better to cut it into several sections to reduce through car traffic, but perhaps keep it open for through cycling mixed with slow car traffic accessing a few streets (“a bicycle boulevard”)(see, for example, Echo Drive east of Bank). It would also be good to re-think how many roads cut through the Byron path — certainly this is a big issue somewhat east at the Our Lady of the Condos development. At no time did the consultants suggest that Byron would be an open cut like Scott; the adjacent neighborhood is way to affluent for that.
An alternative routing would bring the LRT north at Churchill, then west at Richmond. The sharp turns here would necessitate taking out (and possibly replacing…) the bank building at the corner of Churchill and Richmond Road. One reason to do this sharp jog is to bring transit service to
the expanded MEC the commercial main street. However, a station in this area might be difficult to serve as a bus transfer point, unless it was located just a few meters west of Golden Avenue, at the location of a … former transfer point to the streetcar and bus turnaround loop. (Sometimes LRT planning seems to be destined to re-create what council threw away before …). These sharp turns and then Golden Station would mean slow trains for some blocks, adding time to the journey.
Further west, the Richmond road LRT service would have a station at Cleary (intensification site) and McEwen/Ambleside (existing high density node, with more to come). There are two options shown for accessing the Lincoln Fields approaches: the “laneway” option uses a short bit of former street car right of way between Richmond and Ambleside III (remember, the LRT is underground here, not visible). Both of these Richmond options permit direct access into the existing Lincoln Fields station with few changes in layout as the station was designed to align with Richmond. This permits re-use of most of the bus transfer facility; and direct connection to intensification on properties to the immediate west (current mall site, etc).
Or, the LRT could turn up Woodroffe or another side street to visit Carlingwood, which is also an intensification node, and then go west along Carling. This option might not be able to reuse the Lincoln Fields station and would require extensive and new facilities.
The city planning staff and the consultants are open to ideas and feedback. They seem well intentioned and intelligent. One reason they presented these options last week to community groups, business owner groups, and agency groups (ie NCC, Agric Canada, Health Canada, etc) is to find out items they overlooked, minefields they might have wandered into, and what concepts remain unclear, before their public meeting on these options Nov 29th at Tom Brown Arena. There will be an open house starting at 5.30; a presentation at 7pm.
At the presentation last week, it struck me that they had missed one option, call it the “Loblaws route”. This would run from Bayview Station to Tunney’s to Westboro Station along the trench, servicing that major employment centre and the redevelopment sites along Scott. However, just before Westboro Station, I would swing the LRT south along McRae and the Tweedsmuir hydro right of way (pictures below). There is room for a generous high speed curve here. Then there would be a station (replacing Westboro station) under McRae. Above it would be the Westboro Collection transit-oriented-development already proposed for that site (albeit a bit off the radar right now). One station exit would be on the wide sidewalk in front of Loblaws. This puts a station on Richmond Road just a short block from the 101-111 Richmond condos, the convent site condos, and the Banknote building condos (I believe that site is already owned by a condo developer awaiting the right moment…). It would also be an easy walk from condos proposed at Island Park and Richmond; and for any that might pop up just to the west of Loblaws (the back of the Loblaws parking lot is already zoned residential, and the LCBO is an urban embarrassment, it should have been the ground floor of a condo, and then there is the sad little hotel and gas station just a few meters further west — yes condomania has lots of room to spread here).
The consultants pointed out that my fantasy station was no closer than the Westboro station, and it isn’t, IF radii are drawn on maps; but on the ground, the subjective distance is vastly different. Condo dwellers are seeking the ambiance of the mainstreet, a stroll along shops and past Bridgehead to the local subway stop, or popping into Loblaws for something on the way home. This is rather a different experience from zigzagging through low-density residential streets to get to an isolated Westboro Station. The McRae station would still be close enough to Scott Street developments and the CBC Lanark Avenue redevelopments.
Putting a LRT station at Loblaws would also water the grocery desert in neighborhoods to the east. This Loblaws would become an easy LRT ride from downtown condos, LeBreton Flats, and Bayview areas. Transit has a way of changing distances: residents near Bayview and Carleton residences already take the Otrain to South Keys to get groceries (short smooth ride, direct to Loblaws there).
From McRae, the LRT line would swing west. It might be possible to swing it under Richmond Road, but I prefer taking it under the Loblaws parking lot in a gentle curve under Byron, and turning west there. Run it under the street to the station at Golden, then Cleary, McEwen, and thence Lincoln Fields. This gives the western LRT two stations on the Richmond Road traditional mainstreet and two under the more suburban highway-commercial strip along McKellar Park (itself a former farm turned golf course turned housing subdivision). I suspect this route, shorter than the Carling option, will serve as many intensification sites and walk-ins as the Carling route.
Above: looking west along the Scott transitway. Westboro station is where the bus is; Trailhead and then the Hydro corridor and McRae is on the left.
Above: view up the McRae and Hydro corridor towards the south and Loblaws. The corridor is wide; the Westboro Collection transit oriented development has been proposed for both sides of McRae which are in one ownership.
From Loblaws, looking north towards Scott. The parking lot for the grocery store occupies some of the Hydro right of way. The LRT here would be underground.