Infrastructure Work Starting on King Street in Toronto

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By Judy Lamelza

Special to GTA Construction Report

Toronto’s King Street has just started undergoing significant infrastructure upgrades, marking a major effort by the City of Toronto and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) to renew aging streetcar tracks and replace a 146-year-old water main between Dufferin Street and Shaw Street. This project, part of the Council-approved 2023 Capital Works Program, aims to bring the city’s infrastructure to a state of good repair while minimally impacting traffic flow and pedestrian access.

The comprehensive project is expected to unfold in several phases over the course of the year, culminating in December 2024. The initial phase focuses on watermain replacement, a critical step to ensure the longevity and reliability of Toronto’s water distribution network. Following this, the TTC will undertake the replacement of streetcar tracks in segments to minimize disruption to one of the city’s key transit corridors.

Work Phases and Impacts
According to Toronto.ca, the King Street infrastructure upgrade in Toronto is divided into distinct phases, each focusing on specific sections of the project with dedicated objectives and impacts. Here’s a detailed explanation of each phase:

Phase 1 – Watermain Replacement (Mid-February to End of July 2024)
– Objective: This phase targets the replacement of the aging watermain along King Street between Dufferin Street and Shaw Street. Updating this critical infrastructure is essential for ensuring a reliable water supply and preventing future service interruptions.
– Impact: Traffic will be maintained in one lane in each direction throughout the rolling work zone as the project progresses. Pedestrian access will be preserved, ensuring minimal disruption to foot traffic along King Street.

Phase 2 – TTC Streetcar Track Replacement (May 2024 to June 2024)
– Objective: The second phase focuses on replacing the TTC streetcar tracks between Dufferin Street and Fraser Avenue. This involves removing old tracks, preparing the subgrade, and installing new tracks to improve streetcar service reliability and ride quality.
– Impact: This phase necessitates a full closure to all vehicles within the work zone to facilitate the safe and efficient execution of track replacement. Sidewalk access for pedestrians will be maintained, ensuring continuity of pedestrian movement.

Phase 3 – TTC Streetcar Track Replacement (Late June to late July 2024)
– Objective: Continuing the track replacement effort, this phase targets the intersection of King Street and Dufferin Street. The focus is on upgrading the tracks at this critical junction to enhance the overall streetcar network’s performance.
– Impact: Similar to Phase 2, a full closure to all vehicles is required to allow for the comprehensive replacement of streetcar tracks at the intersection. Pedestrian access along sidewalks will be kept open.

Phase 4 – TTC Streetcar Track Replacement (August 2024 to September 2024)
– Objective: This phase extends the track replacement work along King Street between Fraser Avenue and Atlantic Avenue. Upgrading this segment is crucial for maintaining a smooth and efficient streetcar operation across this busy corridor.
– Impact: The work zone will be fully closed to all vehicles to ensure the safe installation of new tracks. Pedestrian pathways will remain accessible, with efforts made to minimize inconvenience to the public.

Phase 5 – TTC Streetcar Track Replacement (September 2024 to October 2024)
– Objective: The final phase of streetcar track replacement covers the section of King Street between Atlantic Avenue and Shaw Street. Completing this segment is vital for the overall enhancement of the streetcar service on King Street.
– Impact: A full closure to vehicular traffic is again necessary, with pedestrian access along sidewalks preserved. This ensures the project’s safety and efficiency while accommodating foot traffic.

Restoration & Overhead Work (October 2024 to December 2024)
– Objective: Following the completion of the track replacement, this phase focuses on the maintenance of TTC streetcar overhead wiring and the restoration of the area affected by the construction activities.
– Impact: While all travel lanes will reopen, localized lane closures may be required for overhead work and area restoration. Pedestrian access will continue to be maintained, marking the project’s final steps towards completion.

Each phase is designed to systematically address the renewal of critical infrastructure while managing the impacts on traffic, transit service, and the local community.

Work Hours and Logistics
To expedite the project, work during Phase 1 will occur from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday to Friday, with potential for late or weekend work. Phases 2 through 5 will see 24/7 operations, with concrete breaking and rail installation activities planned to minimize disruption within allowed work hours. The integrity and quality of the new rail and concrete necessitate around-the-clock work, including overnight rail welding and grinding.

This ambitious project not only aims to enhance the durability and efficiency of Toronto’s infrastructure but also reflects a commitment to maintaining accessibility and minimizing inconvenience to residents, businesses, and commuters. With strategic planning and phased execution, the King Street upgrade is poised to significantly improve the urban fabric of Toronto’s downtown core, setting a precedent for future infrastructure projects in the city.

This project presents a unique opportunity for professionals in the construction field to observe and learn from the complexities involved in urban infrastructure renewal. From logistics planning and phased construction to community engagement and traffic management, the King Street upgrade encompasses a wide array of challenges and solutions that are integral to modern urban development.

Judy Lamelza writes for Databid.com’s blog.

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