Staying on track – Why creating a diversion is all part of the plan at Toronto’s Davenport Diamond

As construction on the Davenport Diamond Grade Separation project pushes forward, crews work on getting all the necessary elements in place to create a temporary diversion track near Dupont Street and Lansdowne Avenue. The diversion track is the first key stage of construction that will allow trains to keep running while the elevated guideway is built. 

With the world slowing down around us, Metrolinx is taking advantage of a rare opportunity to speed up a major transit project in Toronto’s west end.

Transit ridership has decreased significantly while most people isolate at home and this has allowed Metrolinx to drastically change construction schedules to benefit the local community and transit building efforts.

The transit agency has found ways to move most of the overnight work to the daytime and is looking for more ways to speed up construction on the Davenport Diamond Grade Separation project. With work well underway, crews are preparing to build a diversion track – a key piece of infrastructure that will allow Metrolinx to continue running train service when building an elevated guideway.

A rendering of the future Davenport Diamond guideway

A concept rendering showing the guideway, looking east from Wallace Avenue. The guideway will allow trains to pass above vehicle and pedestrian traffic. This is subject to change during implementation. The greenway (public realm improvements) is not reflected here. They will be procured separately. (Metrolinx photo).

The Davenport Diamond Grade Separation project will improve the reliability of GO train service through the construction of an elevated twin-track guideway between approximately Bloor Street and Davenport Road west of Lansdowne Avenue, eliminating at grade crossings including the busy CP Rail freight train intersection near Dupont Street.

Davenport Diamond refers to the intersection where the Barrie GO corridor meets the CP Rail freight train tracks near Dupont Street, one of the busiest train intersections in North America. The Davenport Diamond Grade Separation project will eliminate train congestion at this busy rail crossing and supports GO Expansion by connecting communities with two-way, all-day GO train service.

Diamond Track example

Davenport Diamond: A diamond is the intersection of two railway tracks which resembles a diamond shape. (Metrolinx photo).

The diversion track is the first key stage of construction as it temporarily moves the existing GO rail track structure to the east of the current railway to allow space to construct the elevated guideway. Before installing the diversion track, a temporary support wall (called a shoring wall) needs to be constructed north east of the Davenport Diamond. Its purpose is to support the diversion track structure next to an open excavation for a neighbouring development. Additionally, the existing signal arm at the Wallace Avenue crossing needs to be moved further east to align with the diversion track once in place.

Photo of a typical shoring wall. Shoring wall construction will take place in June.

Photo of a typical shoring wall. Shoring wall construction will take place in June. (Metrolinx photo).

Following this preliminary work, the surface of the railway corridor will be flattened with a motorized grader so the construction team can install the diversion track on even ground. The temporary diversion track will cross over the CP Rail freight train tracks creating a temporary diamond. After all the work is done, the existing track will be decommissioned and construction on the elevated guideway will begin.

Grader example

Photo of a typical motorized grader used to flatten the ground. (Metrolinx photo)

There were many months of planning and preparatory works involved in a significant project like this. For the last five months, construction crews have been laying the ground work, focusing on utility and geotechnical investigations to help understand what’s needed for this stretch of the Barrie GO train corridor and creating access points for construction crews to enter the corridor. Another part of that early work was the clearing and grubbing of vegetation within the corridor to make room for construction crews and heavy machinery.

Metrolinx knows that along with construction progress, it is important to minimize disruptions for residents as much as possible.

“We have been working with the community and have listened to their concerns. Shifting some of the overnight construction to the day will help progress work as quickly as possible while reducing the disruptions,” said Kent Barber, Metrolinx project lead.

Barber says the recent reductions in Barrie line train service will help accelerate the project and increase productivity, while minimizing impacts to the neighborhood.

Starting May 13, 2020, GO train service on the Barrie corridor was further reduced to allow crews the opportunity to shift all possible overnight work to the day. While some overnight work will be inevitable from time to time, Metrolinx says they are committed to maintaining a good relationship with the community, and advance notice of this type of work will be shared.

Google Map showing where the Davenport Diamond grade separation will be built

The Davenport Diamond Grade Separation project will prepare and complete the construction of an elevated twin-track guideway. (Metrolinx photo).

For more information on the Davenport Diamond Guideway project, click here.

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Story by Teresa Ko, Metrolinx communications specialist