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TTC customer service report releases 78 recommendations

The long-awaited report on TTC customer service was released last week.

Hotelier Steven O'Brien, chair of the customer service advisory panel that compiled the report, announced 78 specific improvement recommendations contained within the report, which was spurred, in part, by various dissatisfactions among customers and the media with employees sleeping on the job, or stopping mid-route to buy coffee and doughnuts.

"Over the past decade, the Commission has done an excellent job of expanding service for riders and growing the system to meet demand with limited resources," said the mayor, David Miller, in a press release. "But frontline customer service has not improved at the same rate. We need to get the balance back so that we are providing both top-notch transit and customer services."

The panel was struck in March, and most of whichever recommendations are adopted by the TTC are only expected to be implemented within 24 to 36 months.

Recommendations included better customer service training, information kiosks at stations, "Sorry, Bus Full" messages on the front of buses, and a simplified transfer system.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Stuart Green


Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a cool new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Dundas West gets 1.5km, $4.1-million upgrade

Work is about to start on a 1.5km stretch of Dundas between Bathurst and Dovercourt that will replace the streetcar tracks with newer, longer-lasting versions.

"The TTC tracks typically last about 17 years on average," says Gordon MacMillan, the city's director of design and construction for linear infrastructure. "In the past, we used old timbers below grade, just like you'd see on a railway, but now we're using concrete, that's giving the steel a longer life, and making future replacements faster. When we go in to replace these in 20 years, we'll just have to crack on layer of concrete, snap the old tracks out, and snap the new ones in."

With the older timber system, contractors like Bolton-based Domti, who have the Dundas job, have to dig almost a metre down and replace everything, which puts the roads out of commission for some time. In this case, with a winter shut-down, until next July.

While the work is being done on the tracks, the city is also resurfacing the road and reconstructing all the sidewalks and boulevards, and planting new trees.

The budget for the whole project is $4.1 million.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Gordon MacMillan

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$300,000 makes Gwendolyn MacEwan Park bigger, less round

The Annex space dedicated to one of Toronto's greatest poets just got 12 per cent bigger.

Gwendolyn MacEwen Park, a Walmer Road roundabout just north of Bloor named in her honour six years ago, with a bust of the poet who died in 1987, added two years later, is in the final stages of a refurbishment, reshaping and enlarging occasioned by the city's need to fix a water main in the area.

The budget for the improvement, which includes adding several benches, as well as more grass and flowers, was a little over $300,000.

"We were able to re-imagine the way that little park worked," says Councillor Adam Vaughan, in whose ward it sits. In a city unused to roundabouts, the wide circle of road that surrounded the park was a perennial cause of pedestrian and vehicular confusion, according to Vaughan. To fix that, the new park, which has increased its diameter by about 4 metres, has been made more triangular, a shape Vaughan describes as guitar pick-like. "The edge of the park is closer to the sidewalks now," he says, making it easier for pedestrians, including local school kids, to cross, "but also it feels like when you get to a stop sign, it's a corner."

Vaughan, who knew the poet slightly from his time working in Major Roberts, the old Harbord Street restaurant that later became the Kensington Kitchen and is now Tati Bistro, where MacEwen was a lunch-time regular ("She liked the tortellini," he recalls), is pleased the park in her honour has been improved.

"The cars know what's going on, the pedestrians know what's going on, and Gwendolyn's got more flowers at her feet."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Adam Vaughan

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a cool new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


High-level roundtable declares congestion crisis

The Toronto City Summit Alliance hosted a roundtable discussion last week underlining the coming traffic congestion crisis.

The report is the result of consultations with more than 100 stakeholders from business, non-profit, academia, labour and all three levels of government, and though this is just the first step, with no concrete solutions proposed, it's a definitive statement of a general understanding of a very big problem for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA).

Participants included Metrolinx CEO Robert Pritchard, TD economist Derek Burleton, and planning experts Marni Cappe and Joe Berridge.

According to the report, between 1986 and 2006, road capacity in the GTHA increased by 56 per cent, while demand increased by 106 per cent. During the same two decades, mass transit capacity grew by 18 per cent, while demand increased by 45 per cent.

According to the report, "The GTHA has become a world leader in forcing residents to waste the maximum amount of time in their vehicle of choice, whether at work or play."

The main thrust of the report is that new sources of funding to increase traffic and transit infrastructure are needed, given that the traditional ones have proven to be inadequate.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Rebecca Geller

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or being renovated, a park in the works or even a cool new house being built in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


Work begins on $65,000 Jarvis bike lanes

Work began Friday on the Jarvis Street (or Ted Rogers Way) bike lanes that have been the source both of great anticipation and controversy over the past several months, since an environmental assessment resulted in the recommendation.

The project, which should be finished by the end of the week of July 26, will result in north- and south-bound bike lanes, and the elimination of the reversible middle lane of the formerly five-lane thoroughfare.

The environmental assessment was done to look into ways of improving the Jarvis streetscape and according to Daniel Egan, the city's bike infrastructure man, "there was such an overwhelming response from the bike community to add bike lanes" that they were included in what will ultimately be a larger improvement project, involving sidewalk improvements. "We're sticking with bike lanes now because it's a simple re-striping job," Egan says.

Egan also adds that there is expected to be little impact on car traffic as a result of the elimination of the fifth lane.

The budget for adding the bike lanes is $65,000.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Daniel Egan

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First subway shelter houses 20 bikes at St Clair West

As a logical follow-up to the bus bike racks, and a precursor to an eventual Bixi outpost, Toronto installed its first subway bike shelter last week at the Wells Hill entrance to the St Clair West station.

"I believe it will be a path-breaker in allowing Torontonians to see that we need this across the system," says Councillor Joe Mihevc, in whose ward, and at whose insistence, the bike shelter was constructed. "If you go to almost any subway station right now, you'll see bikes attached to trees, attached to anything that's sticking out of the ground."

The shelter will house 20 bikes, in addition to the 10 that are already accommodated by unsheltered ring and posts.

"I hope to get them done at all subway stations," Mihevc says, "in my ward, and in every ward."

The public realm division of the city's Transportation Services funded the project.

"This is the first of many secure bike parking facilities that are being put in place at other subway stations across the city," said Daniel Egan, manager of Pedestrian and Cycling Infrastructure in a press release. "Some will be full lockers. We expect to have more in place over the next two years."

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Joe Mihevc

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Work commences on $16-million rehabilitation of Jameson bridges

One of the biggest projects during this season of road works is the renovation of the Jameson bridges.

"We'll be taking the decks off the Lakeshore west-bounds and to accommodate that, we'll be building a detour for Lakeshore westbound from British Columbia Drive to Dowling Avenue," says John Bryson, the city's manager of structures and expressways. As a result, Lakeshore will run south of the Gardiner for the length of the new detour.

The bridges were old, probably built, Bryson says, at the same time as the Gardiner, between 1958 and 1965. Though they're been refurbished before, this would be the first complete overhaul they'd have received, the result of the bi-annual city-wide bridge survey his department does.

The entire project, including the detour, will cost $16 million.

Work is expected to be completed in the middle of next summer, with the detour removed by September or October. With the exception of a few night-time closures of the Gardiner, Bryson does not expect traffic to be stopped or significantly affected by the work.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: John Bryson

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$4.6-billion, 33km Eglinton LRT gets final go-ahead

The proposed $4.6-billion Eglinton light rapid transit line, part of the Transit City plan whose funding is currently in dispute with the province, cleared its last significant administrative hurdle last week when it got its notice to proceed from the Minister of the Environment.

"He's identified that there are no provincial concerns in terms of heritage culture and aboriginal rights," says Ryan Bissonnette, a spokesperson for Transit City at the TTC.

There had been concerns in those areas raised by members of the public, though the details of them were never released to the TTC.

Metrolinx, the provincial agency responsible, had given its official go ahead to the line on May 19.

The line, which will run 33km from Kennedy station to Pearson Airport, is budgeted to cost $4.6 billion and is currently scheduled for completion in 2020. More than 10 kilometres of the line, between Brentcliff and Black Creek, will be underground.

Construction is expected to start in 2011, with preliminary works, such as the relocation of utility poles and wires, starting several months before that.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Ryan Bissonnette

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TTC announces 10-year schedule for subway station upgrades

The TTC has announced its schedule for its "second exit" subway station updating program that will add second exits to 14 stations in the system identified as needing them by a 2002 safety study.

According to project manager Steve Stewart, in addition to Broadview, which has already been completed, Castle Frank and Pape, which are currently under construction, the stations to be upgraded, in chronological order, are Wellesley, Donlands, Greenwood, Museum, Dundas, College, Summerhill and Dundas West.

In addition, Dufferin, Chester and Woodbine stations will undergo general modernizations beginning shortly.

"We hope to finish them over the next 10 years," Stewart says.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Steve Stewart

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BMW invests $6 million in new 20,000 square foot Cooper Mini dealership and HQ

Everything but the landscaping has been completed on the new Mini Cooper headquarters and dealership at 20 Sunlight Park Road just southeast of Eastern Avenue and the DVP.

Designed by RAW with several environmental concerns in mind, the project is a series of black cubes set on a triangular lot, highlighted by linear yellow trim.

"It was an empty parking lot before," says RAW principal Roland Rom Colthoff, "really a gap between the Broadview loft building and BMW Toronto.... we wanted a building that was animated and eye-catching, and I think we got that."

At 20,000 square feet and costing $6 million, the new buildings represent a major re-investment in Toronto for the BMW-owned Mini brand, replacing their hip but quite small first location on King Street West.

The dealership opened on April 1, and the landscaping is set to be completed this month.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Roland Rom Colthoff

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Toronto Hydro invests $2.4 million in Morningside Avenue upgrade

The last phases of the project to widen Morningside Avenue to increase traffic capacity has been completed, including relocating and upgrading hydro poles and installing Bell and Rogers cables.

The city project, in collaboration with Toronto Hydro, also included two railway passes, which required Toronto Hydro to put their cables and casings for telecommunications cables underground.

"Moving the poles was the first phase," says Toronto Hydro spokeswoman Denise Atallah, "allowing for the road to be widened with a bike lane and new sidewalks." At the railway passes, she says, "we couldn't bring the equipment over the CP Rail line, so we had to underground everything, which involved trenching, putting in ducts for new cables, and creating joint ducts for partners like Rogers and Bell."

The project, which began in 2007, got power flowing by December, 2009, and recently got Bell and Rogers signals moving, cost Toronto Hydro $2.4 million, part of their $275-million investment in upgrading the city's electric distribution this year.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source; Denise Atallah



Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or renovating, even a cool new house in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.


$40-million Dufferin Street project adds new rail bridge

The rail bridges are being lowered onto the newly installed frame on the way towards the completion of the $40-million Dufferin Street straightening project, currently scheduled for a July completion.

The roadbed north of the underpass is also being graded in preparation for laying the surface.

"This is a tremendous improvement that will dramatically improve the busiest bus route in the city, improve access for pedestrians and cyclists, beautify the neighbourhood by increasing green space and house a unique public art installation," says Councillor Gord Perks, whose ward will be significantly effected by the project.

Designed by Delcan, the project will also include new street rails and storm sewers.

The chief practical improvement will likely be an easing of the congestion caused by the former jog in the road.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Gord Perks


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Unique $13.5-million emergency training facility at Pearson wins design award

A unique building at Pearson airport, which started out as a simple utilitarian project to train its own staff and ended up a dynamic for-profit institute run by the Greater Toronto Airport Authority, has won a 2010 Ontario Architects Association award for design excellence.

Designed by Kleinfeldt Mychajlowycz Architects Incorporated, which was previously cited by the OAA for their own offices at 147 Portland St., the Fire and Emergency Training Services Institute trains fire and emergency personnel in its classrooms, using such facilities as a burn building and a rescue tower.

If the project receives the LEED Silver certification it's aiming for with its passive solar collection panels and reduced energy and water consumption, it will be the airport's first LEED building.

"It exceeded forecasts in regard to recovered solar energy," says project manager Gerald Lambers.

Construction on the 25,000 square foot, $13.5-million building began in November, 2005 and was completed in January, 2007. The prize will be awarded next month.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Gerald Lambers

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Castle Frank station gets $8-million second exit

The second subway station to benefit from the TTC's Second Exit Project is about halfway done. Castle Frank is getting an $8-million exit added to the west end of the subway platform.

According to project manager Steve Stewart, the purpose is "to increase the egress capacity during an emergency." Castle Frank is one of 14 stations identified in a 2002 Life Safety study, and Broadview was the first completed, with work at Pape underway, and work about to start at Wellesley and Dufferin stations.

The Castle Frank project was designed by MMM Group, with the work carried out under contractor TorCom.

Stewart expects the work will be completed by the end of the year.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Steve Stewart

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$300-million LEED highway service station contract awarded to Toronto architectural firm

No matter what your car's appetite is for fossil fuel, driving down the highway is one of the last places you'd expect to find the next chapter of environmental sustainability opening up. But thanks to the Province of Ontario and Toronto's Quadrangle Architects, that's just where you'll see sustainability reach down from the headline buildings it's mostly been rolled out in, into the realm of more quotidian development, where it will ultimately do the most good.

Starting in July and ending in 2013, 20 service facilities along highways 400 and 401 will be built and renovated to LEED Silver standards. Ranging from 8,000 to 22,000 square feet, the stations will cost a total of $300 million.

According to Les Klein, Quadrangle's lead on the project, "While an automotive-oriented use like a highway service centre might not be a building that conjures up to the general public an image of sustainability... the LEED designation anticipates, among other measures: a responsible use of land (including environmental clean-up, reducing site disturbance and the heat island effect); energy-conservation in heating, ventilating and electricity usage (including alternative energy); water efficiency and consumption; indoor air quality; and controlling long-term building life-cycle costs and impacts, including the use of local and highly durable materials."

In addition to being radically sustainable, the stations will have a much higher than average degree of accessibility, including differentiated carpet colours and textures for the visually impaired, and motorized adult changing tables in the washrooms.

Writer: Bert Archer
Source: Lauren Dando

Do you know of a new building going up, a business expanding or renovating, even a cool new house in the neighbourhood? Please send your development news tips to bert@yongestreetmedia.ca.

135 Transportation Articles | Page: | Show All
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