Stouffville GO – Dropping the road while keeping the flow

Local traffic and pedestrians will keep moving while a new underpass is built on Steeles Avenue East.

As a reliable junction, it was getting a failing grade.

For the Stouffville rail line, the existing crossing on Steeles Avenue East, near the Milliken GO Station was slowing down vehicles, transit, pedestrians and cyclists. With daily issues of congestion and users experiencing frustration travelling along this busy corridor, something needed to be done.

The solution? Grade separating the roadway from the rail line.

The big picture “road under rail” plan includes crews lowering existing Steeles Avenue East, between Silver Star Boulevard/Old Kennedy Road and Midland Avenue, so road users can move freely below, while GO trains and customers get to their destination above via a new rail and pedestrian bridge.

Current level crossing near Milliken GO Station.

Current level crossing near Milliken GO Station. To improve vehicular and pedestrian flow, a rail over road designed grade separation will be constructed. (Metrolinx photo)

To complete the road lowering, more than 47,000 tonnes of material (or around 8,000 elephants) will be excavated and removed within the project. From there, four retaining walls will be built, hundreds of metres of public and private utilities will be relocated or connected, and a new underground stormwater tank and pumping station will be installed. During heavy rainfalls, the pumping station will ensure that water collected in the basin of the roadway is properly drained, pumped out and redistributed in the municipal sewer system.

Early in the planning process, EllisDon Transit Infrastructure (EDTI) the project’s prime contractor, realized that to make all of this happen they needed to create a large work area where they could safely build. At the same time, it was a priority to maintain community access to the hundreds of businesses in the area, and keep traffic flowing for vehicles traveling through the corridor, especially during peak hours.

metrolinx-steelesunderpass_MXEdit_Green

Click here to see enlarged infographic

Building a temporary detour road slightly north of the existing Steeles Avenue East between Redlea Avenue and Silver Star Boulevard/Old Kennedy Road maintains east and west traffic as well as access to Milliken GO Station and the surrounding area. This plan also allows for  a safe distance from the construction zone.

To switch traffic to the new detour, road crews moved the existing rail tracks and rail crossing arms at Milliken GO, which required a full weekend closure of Steeles Avenue East from Redlea Avenue to Old Kennedy/Silver Star. Crews worked around the clock. Bright and early on June 1, traffic was shifted onto the new detour road.

Map of detour road

Map of temporary detour road along Steeles Avenue (Metrolinx photo)

“The grade separation will create a better vehicular travel experience, enhance station access for customers, and improve pedestrian safety in the area,” said David Swanson, Metrolinx senior manager.

“This is an exciting milestone in the project that required months of planning and collaboration to create a smooth transition for everyone travelling through this busy corridor. For the past few years, the majority of the work has been underground and out of public view. From this point forward the community will really see the project start to take shape as we build the above-ground infrastructure.”

The temporary detour road will be in place until late 2021. Once complete, this stretch of Steeles Avenue East will be expanded from four to six lanes, increasing overall capacity and making it easier for buses to pick-up and drop-off customers. Construction of the new expanded roadway and rail and pedestrian bridge is expected to be complete by 2022.

Passenger upgrades at the adjacent Milliken GO Station will include new track platforms, pedestrian tunnels, elevators, weather canopies and lighting. Pedestrians on Steeles Avenue East will have safer access crossing the road and getting to Milliken GO via stairwells and elevators that connect to the pedestrian bridge.

Rending of grade separation near Milliken GO

Rendering of rail over road grade separation at Steeles Avenue East near Milliken GO Station. Renderings are subject to change. (Metrolinx photo)

The grade separation supports GO Expansion for future all-day, two-way frequent GO train service on the Stouffville line and will enhance local safety.

For more information visit Metrolinx.com/Stouffville or sign up to get updates by emailing TorontoEast@metrolinx.com.

Story by Teresa Ko, Metrolinx communications specialist