Not unexpectedly, the four “finalists” for the western continuation of the LRT mainline are all variations of the Richmond Road / Macdonald parkway alignment. In the next posts, I’ll look at several aspects of the route selection, but first, to Dominion Station.
All four options show Dominion Station right where it is, the western-most point of the transitway trench where it joints the Macdonald Parkway.
The current Dominion Station was a last-minute add-on to the transitway. It does provide convenient walk-in service for the adjacent low density housing and a cluster of high rises. Many buses had to stop at the traffic signals there anyway, so it wasn’t much of a delay.
But with LRT service, it is necessary to question whether it deserves to be on the light rail network, or if a station would be better located elsewhere. With rail, every train stops at every station, which takes up trip time, and the slower the trip the more trainsets are required to achieve the same frequency of service, which means a much more expensive capital and operating cost.
All four finalist options run the rail by the Dominion location in the same way. Looking at the map, and travelling from downtown towards the west, a train approaches from Westboro LRT Station. Starting right beyond the end of Berkley Avenue, the track will swing leftwards to take up an alignment roughly occupied on the aerial photo by the paved walking path. Once it reaches the area behind the former Collican Building, now CIHI and Minto’s new Upper West condo, it would either swing across Rochester Field or continue west to Cleary.
It is extremely unlikely the engineers will design a station on a curve, so the station will have to slip either east, back towards the Westboro LRT Station, or westward, to be parallel to the Parkway. Neither of these options improves the station location.
If it slides east, it is even closer to Westboro Station. If west, it is more isolated in a field. Neither location is amenable to connections to bus service. And while its a nice idea to have a station on the riverfront parkland, it won’t exactly be a major generator or destination for users. Having lived within a block of that station, I’d note its a bloody cold spot all winter (and much of the spring, fall, and heck, even summer too).
One of the purposes of spending so much taxpayer money on an improved transportation system is to improve accessibility within the city. This spurs intensification. A shifted-east station is close to the Fendor intensification site at the north end of Winston and Roosevelt Avenues. Other intensification sites (eg the former CBC building on Lanark) are closer to the Westboro LRT Station.
If the chosen LRT option is to run through Rochester Field, it would be possible to install a station on the straight stretch as the track runs diagonally through the field towards Richmond Road, thus connecting the south entrance of the station directly to bus stops on Richmond. This site is also close to intensification potential when the Rogers Cable site and adjacent parking lots are replaced with apartment towers (there is room for at least four towers there). A Rochester station also has a better catchment zone for walk-ins from the Highland Park area.
It would be theoretically possible to consider a station parallel to Richmond, once the LRT goes under Richmond, but that begs all sorts of messy political issues about the number of ash trees it would sacrifice, and the bean-counters don’t like the cost of an underground station … so that leaves the Rochester Field location the most realistic option.
If the LRT alignment doesn’t use the Rochester Field, but goes along the parkway to Cleary, where would the Dominion Station best be located? I think it would be north of the Rogers site, as a road access could be provided when the site is redeveloped. But it’s still not a great, or even good, spot for a station.
Which makes me wonder if it would be built at all?