By Amaan Jabbar
You may have been hearing a buzz around the community regarding the widening of Port Union Road. If you have, you won’t be surprised that this buzz is still going on. Except this time, a timeline has been set for the project to begin.
This is a significant development in the process of widening Port Union Road. Official planning began in 2004 with an Environmental Assessment, then in June 2021, an updated, detailed design was rendered, and all easements have been secured. Easements refer to the right of use over another’s property for the purposes of construction projects.
On November 30, many residents from around Port Union attended the virtual public consultation meeting regarding this project. The team from Transportation Services, Public Consultation Unit, and Engineering and Construction Services held an informative session to update the community.
- Widening of Port Union Road to allow a new northbound lane
- Centre-turn lanes and narrower lane widths to improve road safety
- Raised cycle track on both sides of the street
- Formal bus stops with shelters integrated with the design of cycle tracks
- New and wider sidewalks on both sides
- Updated street lighting and hydro poles
- Upgraded water service connections
- Removal of shoulders, addition of curbs throughout and upgrades to stormwater drainage
- Speed limit reduction to 50km/hr
The latest development in this project is the raised cycle tracks. They will be on both sides of the street with sufficient space to maintain the separation between cars and cyclists. It is important to consider that these are raised cycle tracks, which means they are elevated in some areas. This is great news. Raised cycle tracks dedicate space for cyclists and prevent automobile operators from blocking the track.
Another notable change is the speed reduction from 60 km/h to 50 km/h zone. Reducing the speed limit actually improves traffic flow because it reduces the amount of safe space needed between cars. Reducing the speed will also make the road safer for cyclists and pedestrians.
In early 2022, the contract for this project will be tendered. That means the team will submit it to the city and be awarded a contract to commence construction in the spring. The first step will be relocating the hydro poles. In the summer, road construction will begin. By late 2022, the majority of the work will be done. Finally, in spring 2023, additional touches and finishing details will be completed.
One concern is if a vehicle is traveling south down Port Union Road and has a green light at the Lawrence intersection where the speed drops down to 30 km/h. Braking to reduce speed to 30 km/h could be dangerous, especially in icy conditions. It is suggested that measures can be put in place to warn drivers they must slow down.
At the public consultation meeting on November 30, I asked a question on behalf of CCRA about a common concern of many construction projects regarding the timeline and delays. The answer was that there will always be circumstances that lead to delays. What they ensure is that workers will work diligently to complete each phase on time.
Stanley Yue from Engineering and Construction services said companies must pay the city when projects are long overdue. Weather can also cause delays, which is an uncontrollable variable. During the gaps between construction phases, roads will still remain restricted to one lane each way.
What to expect:
Traffic will be restricted to one lane on each side during construction phases. There will be temporary traffic signals at existing signal locations where construction is being completed. The hours of work are weekdays 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and weekends. Late evening work may be required but the team will try to avoid it as much as possible. Properties will remain accessible to pedestrians during construction and residents will be notified one week prior to the start of concrete work.
Overall, it is finally looking like Port Union Road will be improved. This project will result in a safer and more pedestrian friendly neighbourhood. If you have any concerns about it, reach out to Steven Ziegler,Senior Coordinator, at the Public Consultation Unit at 416-392-2896 or PortUnion@Toronto.ca.
For more information, see: toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/9709-Port-Union-Public-UpdateNov2021PresentationAODA.pdf