Ontario Line design consultations start in the East Segment following release of latest report

Having a strategy to reduce the impacts of new transit projects is critical to their success. That’s why Metrolinx takes time to do thorough environmental assessments and gather public feedback well before construction begins. Today (Sept. 23), the transit agency released a report for upcoming work along the Lakeshore East GO rail corridor, where new Ontario Line trains will run on dedicated new tracks. The report confirmed that new noise solutions will keep sound levels the same or lower than they are today in most areas, and residents are now invited to weigh in on design and construction plans.

Riverside and Leslieville residents can learn more about Metrolinx plans for noise walls that will block sound along the Lakeshore East GO rail corridor between approximately Eastern Avenue and Pape Avenue.

The release of a report on early works in the area kicks off the start of consultation around the plans, which also call for new retaining walls that will shrink the physical footprint of the corridor and create more green space.

Open House

To help gather feedback on the plans, Metrolinx has also launched an online sound demonstration and a design questionnaire for the new walls. These developments will be discussed during a virtual open house taking place today (Sept. 23). A second report released today also looks at the works planned for the future East Harbour station.

“We’ve been working for many, many months on an effort to develop comprehensive design concepts that integrate noise barriers, retaining walls and vegetation to help this new infrastructure fit in within the community,” said John Potter of the Metrolinx Design Division.

Image of sound walls.
Here’s an example of elements that make up the look and feel of the noise and retaining walls that the public will be asked for feedback on. (Photos from SvN)

Noise Walls and Vibration

Noise walls are proposed as a tool to block noise generated by the Ontario Line and GO trains in the area and are just one part of an integrated plan to manage noise and vibration in the area.

Metrolinx will also explore a number of proven solutions to address or avoid increases in vibration. These could include rubber mats placed under the track structures for GO trains and specialized fasteners for the rails. Vibration solutions for GO tracks will be installed as part of the upcoming early works along the Lakeshore East GO rail corridor. Exact solutions for the Ontario Line tracks will be determined once a project partner is on board for the Northern Civil, Stations and Tunnel project and experts complete detailed designs for this work.

Metrolinx has not only studied how walls will reduce noise – the transit agency also worked with AECOM, an infrastructure consulting firm, to create an online sound demonstration. At select locations along the rail corridor in Riverside and Leslieville, people can hear today’s noise levels and noise levels predicted for the future, when new Ontario Line trains are up and running. This provides an easy comparison between current sound levels and what can be expected once noise walls and new train trips are in place.

Online Questionnaire

Of course, people don’t just want to hear about how the walls will block sound. They want to know how they will look together with retaining walls, and once landscaping around them is complete. That’s the focus of the online questionnaire Metrolinx launched today, which is open until Oct. 14.

Wherever possible, noise and retaining walls will be lined by trees, shrubs, vines and other plants to enhance the appearance of the space.

“We want to create welcoming spaces around the new walls so people can continue to enjoy their neighbourhood,” Potter said.

“Our goal is to ensure the neighbourhood has a green, self-sustaining border to the rail corridor that is made up of healthy native plantings.”

Image shows a park
A look at Jimmie Simpson Park, earlier in the year, on a very sunny day. (Metrolinx photo)

The guiding principle is to make sure Jimmie Simpson Park and other green spaces along the rail tracks will look better than ever after construction is complete.

“We are aiming not just to return it to what it was but to bring it to a new state,” Potter said. “Over time, we want there to be an improvement on what’s there today.”

The Early Works Reports for the Lakeshore East Joint Corridor and East Harbour Station are available on MetrolinxEngage. Public consultation on the reports will run until October 24. Comments can be submitted on the website or to ontarioline@metrolinx.com.

If you haven’t yet registered to participate in tonight’s open house, which starts at 6:30 p.m., you can do that here.

Metrolinx has scheduled an additional virtual open house to review the Early Works Report for East Harbour on Oct. 5 at 6:30 p.m. More details and a registration link will be posted here in the coming days.

Want to find out more about the online sound tool? Here’s that story.

Story by Mike Winterburn, Metrolinx News senior writer