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City buys time on review of Davenport Diamond rail overpass

Metrolinx has delayed the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) for the proposed Davenport Diamond rail overpass after the city complained that it didn’t have enough time to properly review the project and gather community input.
Metrolinx notified the city last spring that it intends to build a 1.4-kilometre rail overpass at an estimated cost of $140 million to avoid the “Davenport Diamond” railway intersection, where commuter trains along the Barrie corridor cross a CN cargo line. Rather than examine alternatives like a trench or tunnel, initial consultations focused how to use the space underneath and around the proposed overpass for community purposes, something that upset many local residents, who see the overpass proposal as a “Mini Gardiner Expressway” through their neighbourhood. If the project followed Metrolinx’s timeline, the TPAP would provide little opportunity for serious input and change.
Over the last few weeks, “discussions between senior City and Metrolinx officials have led to a commitment from Metrolinx to delay issuing Notice of Commencement for the TPAP until the spring of 2016, in order to provide more time for community and City input to an appropriate solution,” according to a memo from the city’s chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat, circulated by Ward 18 councillor Ana Bailão. “This is a significant step forward, and will provide the time necessary to table all of the information needed for informed decision-making on the range of viable solutions, in order to advance the RER program on the Barrie corridor in a manner that is most conducive to rail operations and the residents and businesses of the Davenport area.”
The memo says the city supports transportation expansion but points out that the Regional Express Rail initiative “can also present significant city-building challenges where major infrastructure incursions, such as the Davenport rail grade separation, impact established communities. Given these tensions and the importance of ‘getting it right,’ the City is fully committed to working with the local Councillor and other elected officials, the community and Metrolinx, to define a solution that meets the needs of our community, the City and transit expansion.”
Sam Barbieri, of the group Options for Davenport, says local activists are relieved they’ve been granted more time. “The idea is unprecedented in Toronto. We’ve always said we’re not anti-transit, we’re just anti-bad planning. We’re happy that they’re pressing pause and everybody’s taking a step back to look at this plan,” he says.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Sam Barbieri
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