Public input lets GO Expansion proceed full steam ahead

Metrolinx’s GO Expansion program is the largest transit project in the history of Ontario and Canada. But it can’t happen without the input of the communities and industry partners that will build and use the system.

As the population of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area continues to boom, the case for expanding GO Transit service is clear.

The project known as “GO Expansion” will turn what was originally a commuter train service into an all-day two-way transit network. In the process, it will bring significant benefits to transit users, drivers, and the region as a whole.

The first step in the process of building this unprecedented project, is consulting with the public on the impacts of the project.

This is done through a Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP), an impact assessment process created specifically for transit projects. The process involves a series of public consultations, the second of which is happening now.

Public feedback is an important component of project design. Following the first round of public consultations that took place in February 2020, which included 10 open houses across the region, several updates and changes have been made to proposed infrastructure, and a number of environmental studies to reduce impacts and improve design have been completed.

GO Trains sit idle in a GO yard with a signal light in the foreground.

Go Trains sit in a rail yard, where they are serviced and kept ready to roll. (Metrolinx photo).

Don Valley Layover

Union Station is a bottleneck in the GO network.

By situating a rail layover facility in the Don Valley, utilizing the existing tracks on the Metrolinx-owned Don Branch, trains will be able to quickly and efficiently drop passengers at Union Station, while at the same time reducing congestion.

The Don Valley Layover was first proposed at the public meetings in February 2020. After receiving feedback from the public and stakeholders, Metrolinx has revised the configuration of the Don Valley Layover.

The revised configuration means all facilities will be outside of lands designated as environmentally significant by the city of Toronto, and reduces impacts to adjacent property owners as well as users of the Lower Don Valley Trail.

Burlington Layover

A train layover yard is also required in Burlington to support increasing service levels on the Lakeshore West corridor.

Metrolinx requires a place to store and maintain the trains at the end of the line. At the initial public consultations, the Beach site was proposed, near Plains Road East and Maple Avenue.

Based on feedback in round one of consultations, a second site is now being assessed in Burlington, located at Walkers Line between Harvester Road and Fairview Street. The Walkers Line site is mostly vacant or within the Metrolinx right-of-way and has less associated impacts.

A preferred site for the layover on the Lakeshore West corridor will be identified once both sites are fully assessed.

Grade Separations

A grade separation separates the road from the rails, so that vehicles and or pedestrians can pass under or over a railway safely, without having to stop and wait for the trains.

Reducing the number of at-grade crossings on the Stouffville Rail Corridor will support increased service and provide benefits such as improved traffic flow, better connections and crossings for pedestrians and cyclists, air quality benefits from reduced car idling, and reduced noise from at-grade crossing signals and train whistles.

Since the first round of public consultations, Metrolinx has been working with business owners and municipal partners to study the impact of moving driveways and road changes on nearby properties to minimize impacts.

WALKER LINE AERIAL UPDATED

Artist’s rendering of electrified GO train service operating on the Lakeshore West GO train corridor, using overhead catenary system (Metrolinx photo)

That means meeting with each affected property owner and exploring options to reduce the impact on their property or operations. In each case, Metrolinx looks to find the solution that will work well for the surrounding properties, and unlock the benefits of GO Expansion.

Public feedback is crucial to the transit planning process.  Metrolinx is calling for further public input as the transit agency moves forward with GO Expansion. This past week, GO Expansion took a step forward with the next round of public consultation, and the team wants to hear from you.

The consultations run until Sept. 1, 2020.  To have your say, visit Metrolinx Engage.

Story by: Patricia Pytel, Manager Capital Communications, GO Rail Expansion