The Cleary Avenue end of the western LRT and motor expressway corridor is shown here:
The westbound trains enter the picture from the right, along the orange line. Cleary Station is shown in dark blue. The Unitarian Church and apartment building is shown a bit further west (left). The underground track alignment swings gently under the Unitarian parking lot to get out towards its (under) Richmond Road alignment.
The swing out to Richmond will occur under a car repair shop and/or Kristy’s restaurant. These businesses will not remain in place during construction. Since dig-the-ditch-and-cover construction won’t start until 2017 at the earliest, there is still time to the get the beast repaired or fed.
The Cleary Station is on NCC land. Therefore, it is under NCC land, as they cannot abide the sight of a station. The station is to be 100% underground and not visible. Presumably there will be some sort of access hatch for patrons to get to the station.
And the plans do show a revised pathway skirting the station to get to the new underpass under the road for people who drive. I hope people will be able to exit the station onto the path, since improving waterfront access to the great unwashed inland masses is a stated objective of the exercise to preserve a cultural landscape.
But why can’t station users wait in a lobby, of a NCC-vetted design, with a view to the water? The site the station is under rises sharply at its west end, so a building can have both a view and be nestled into the bosom of this great cultural treasure.
I find the CIty and the NCC both terribly bad at incorporating the stations into the landscape. The Bayview Station, for example, is on a relatively high point of land with fabulous views of the water and towards the downtown. The City is adamant that view planes, sight lines, and aesthetic values cannot be entertained for their Stations even if free.
The NCC wants a LeBreton Flats that is an exemplar of urban planning, an urban showcase befitting a national capital, etc etc. But that must not include actively working transit stations as a key feature of that design. Ditto for transit along the western parkway. Transit users should well bells to warn the NCC they are coming.
The NCC also wants to “animate” the waterfront, to attract more people. I wonder why we couldn’t have had a Cleary Station with underground platform with a glass roof or skylights (suitably disguised from motorists’ view) and a above ground entry lobby with a new Kristy’s restaurant (or facsimile) where ordinary-budget diners could enjoy a waterfront view instead of Richmond Road. Kept well back from the shoreline, of course. And their parking lot wouldn’t have to be gracing the waterfront either. Too practical? Too lower class?
Earlier plans for the western LRT had a station at Woodroffe Avenue. That is gone. It would have been near Richmond and Woodroffe, accessible by bus and by people dropping off or picking up transit users.
There is no clue how people who are being driven will access the new Cleary Station, located as it is on a dead end road. Will the 87 bus that now uses Woodroffe and the Parkway now short-turn at Cleary? Or Lincoln Fields? Will the No 2 detour in at Clearly or stay on Richmond with stern admonitions to passengers to take a hike? Or will Cleary be led back out to Richmond through the spot where Kristy’s now stands?
Dominion Station has limited road access, but plenty of walk in traffic from existing and many planned highrises. Cleary’s southern hinterland is (currently) a very low rise low density area. So either the Cleary station will be lightly used, or some provision will have to be made for vehicle access. The station at Westboro modells about as skimpy a road access as could be achieved.
When will this all happen?
The City’s current plans are for Phase II (Tunney’s to Lincoln Fields, maybe all the way to Baseline and Bayshore) to start active construction in January 2017. That gives us less than two years to sort out the paperwork and get the drawings done and contracts issued to RTG.
The section from Tunney’s to Lincoln Fields is definitely an essential part of the current Confederation Line transit system that extends eastwards to Blair but is truncated short at Tunney’s, due to the lack of a approved EA westwards. Constructing the LRT to Lincoln must happen for the basic LRT to function well.
Notice that the decision to go west, codified in the Official Plan, and now with a route, will be getting underway before the initial LRT stub line through the downtown is up and running. The tracks and stations of the current Phase I will soon start being visible on the landscape (the tunnel portion is anteclimactic as it is basically unseeable). The general public will become aware, all the time, of the LRT project, but limited to anticipation.
What better time to get the Phase II underway, based on the sizzle of an unopened system, avoiding any “teething problems” (the (N)o-Train is surely an anomaly) or disappointment of the actual product, should there prove to be buyers’ remorse.
Who Pays for all this?
We do, of course, either through our Federal pocket; Provincial pocket; or for the municipal pocket, anyone buying any new real estate or home sees a hefty capital contribution via “development charges”. Housing along the LRT route won’t be getting any cheaper.
For the actual parkway section, the City pays for all construction of the LRT, all construction of the Stations, and all construction of the new parkway / expressway lanes, and for the two new underpasses, and for all the site grading and water handling. With NCC oversight.
In addition, the City will give the NCC not less than $30 million for landscaping the route. That $30 million divided by, say, 2km, works out to $15,000 a metre for landscape finishes. I’m sure they will spend it
In addition, the City will pay the NCC for the use of the actual right of way privilege. I didn’t see a sum for this mentioned in the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). However, earlier in the planning, the city was estimating the value of NCC land as being the same as land along Richmond Road that is already zoned for high rises.
The City does save 10% over the cost of running the tunnel under Richmond from Rochester Field to Cleary. Every million counts.
The NCC gets an invisible LRT route (except the 20 -25% at the Dominion end) and invisible Station, and it won’t have to pay anything to relocate its 60’s era waterfront parkway away from the water’s edge. It also gets $30 million of revised landscaping along the parkway which might elevate the terrain from its 60’s era eco-blight to a more ecologically friendly roadside verge. It also gets a large chunk of land (Rochester Field) to sell, conveniently zoned high rise, within an easy walk to Dominion Station. I’m not sure the NCC actually has any significant out of pocket expenses related to the LRT. It now has some cash coming to redevelop its shoreline per its objectives. Sweet.
Wait, there’s more.
The City and NCC also provide these sketches to better illustrate what the new alignment and finished landscape might look like. Beware, it is planner’s porn (nice pictures, but you can’t have it). Does anyone really think we will get rows of trees densely planted along both sides of Woodroffe and the Parkway lanes?
Here’s the Westboro Station to Dominion Station to the tunnel portal bit:
Here’s that waterfront amenity building again, showing it at north of the still undeveloped Rochester Field, but without any parkway crossing:
And, here’s the Cleary Station (little red glob at the bottom right) and the treed Woodroffe: