Union Station: Northwest PATH Expansion

Discussion in 'Transportation and Infrastructure' started by rdaner, Feb 23, 2007.

  1. rdaner

    rdaner Guest

    Thanks to Gil on SSC: This was in the Star recently


  2. rjeffers

    rjeffers Guest

  3. EnviroTO

    EnviroTO Guest

    I would prefer option three to give greater underground connectivity to 95 Wellington, the Canadian Pacific tower, and 70 York. It would provide East-West connections as well as North-South. Even better would be to build option 1 or 2 but still build the East-West link between the CP Tower and 70 York.
  4. samsonyuen

    samsonyuen Guest

    Who pays for this?
  5. EnviroTO

    EnviroTO Guest

    I think there is cost sharing between the city and the various land owners.
  6. Will the tunnel connect to all of the adjacent buildings?

    I've always wondered about the history of the massive parking garage under University Avenue. Was it built as part of the subway project?
  7. The owners of buildings connected share the cost of the tunnels connecting them.
  8. 4th and best option would see the path run west to Simcoe Street, then north with an off-spur to connect the new RBC and Ritz, then connecting with the Path link under Roy Thompson Hall.
  9. roch5220

    roch5220 Guest

    And if anybody was wondering why it takes so darn long to build a subway in this city ...../
  10. rdaner

    rdaner Senior Member

    Apr 25, 2007
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    PATH Expansions

    Finding a way through the PATH maze
    The PATH sign points the ways under the TD Centre near the King St. exit. Already vaunted as the largest underground retail arcade in the world, PATH is looking to add another 45 entry points.

    From Union to the bus station to the convention centre - in 3 1/2 hours
    I've lived in Toronto for just over a year, and never had occasion to use PATH until recently, when my editor thought it would be a good idea to set an unaccustomed reporter loose in the underground labyrinth.
    Can Toronto's bewildering warren grow without creating more confusion?
    Sep 16, 2007 04:30 AM
    Leslie Scrivener
    staff reporter

    In the sunlit lobby of the Sun Life Centre tower, it's easy to get your bearings – across the way is St. Andrew's Church on King St. W., on the corner is a Sorel Etrog sculpture, and traffic roars up what is clearly Avenue Rd. It's here, above ground, that we meet Stuart Ash, designer of the PATH system, who was once responsible for imposing order on Toronto's disjointed underground walkway.

    Twenty years ago Ash and his partners began planning the signage for the pedestrian maze, which has expanded over the years to 27 kilometres, jogging hither and thither between the south building of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Union Station and the bus terminal north of Dundas Street. PATH is vaunted as the largest (and, some might also say, most confounding) subterranean shopping arcade in the world. Now that the system is on the cusp of a further extension – it's expected to double in size within the next decade – Ash offered to navigate the underground with the Sunday Star.

    Can it double in size without becoming doubly confusing?

    One of the abiding complaints about Toronto's underground warren, which links 50 downtown buildings and 20 parking garages (PATH goes right through the garage beneath City Hall) is that it's bewildering. In the depths of the shopping malls, which all seem the same as you move from building to building, it's a struggle to figure out where you are. There's no reference to landmarks at street level. And if you don't consult the PATH maps, which really do help you find your way, you can easily end up like Orpheus dragging his sad self through an unknown underworld. There are unexpected dead ends, and sometimes the only way to go north is to first go west.

    Part of the problem is that each building, along with the space below it, is privately owned. From the beginning there was never a master plan to connect the buildings. The tunnels were added where it was convenient, not where it was most logical, though more recent connections have been less haphazard and better planned.

    For the Star tour, Ash arrives with a map of the PATH system, taken off the City of Toronto website. It's clear from the start that when you find the signs, which are elegant and discreet, they are very helpful. But often, because they are small – they weren't supposed to compete with the retail signs – you don't notice them.

    There are bright moments on our tour, such as when we arrive at First Canadian Place after studying PATH maps on walls, though it's clear there aren't enough of them. "Here's a major crossroads with lots of information," Ash says happily. "I'm amazed it's working as well as it does."

    In the original plan, he and his partners Gottschalk + Ash International Design and Keith Muller + Associates planned for more signs, for compass points showing direction – it really helps to know which way is north – and for wall maps. "They were whittled down to the minimum, only 80 per cent of what we suggested," says Ash, whose internationally recognized firm has created signage for SkyDome ( now the Rogers Centre) and American Airlines Arena in Miami, and is working on the Chicago transit system.

    The city of Toronto paid for developing the PATH concept, while the individual property owners paid for the manufacture and installation of the signage. Now about 35 corporations are part of the system. "It was like pulling teeth to get the property owners to introduce this," Ash recalls. The banks, for example, weren't keen to have signs that would direct customers to their competitors' buildings. In the intervening years, some companies have kept up the system and incorporated it into their own building signage while others have been lax.

    There are some low points on our tour. We decide to go to BCE Place. "But how do you know where BCE Place is?" he asks. "I know it's that way (pointing east), but there's nothing directing me. Because of the lack of continuity, it's totally disorienting." From then on, it's guesswork and instinct. "It's a broken link, and that's why people are having trouble ... people don't really pay attention to way-finding, you should be there where you need it." In short, he says, "This needs work. Updating is required, and property owners need to be more consistent."

    He's been told the city has no budget to add to the PATH system to help people find their way.

    When the extensions are complete, there will be 45 new entry points to the system, which will expand to as many as 60 kilometres of walkways, says Al Rezoski, a senior City of Toronto planner.

    Some of the new routes are already being used, such as the commodious walkway on either side of Bay St. below Front St. Others, like the underground path from Union Station to St. Andrew subway station, on a route yet to be determined, are still under environmental review.

    There's pedestrian pressure to create these new walkways in the mostly underground system (which comes up for light, mole-like, in places like the SkyWalk from Union Station to the Rogers Centre).

    City planners have counted pedestrians leaving Union Station during the morning rush and found 14,000 people emerging onto Front St. and another 19,000 headed toward the PATH network in one hour. With planned expansion of GO train service, those numbers are expected to nearly double in the next 15 to 20 years: 24,000 emerging onto Front St. and 36,000 heading underground.

    "Now there is an ebb and flow as trains arrive," says Tim Lapsa, a transportation planning manager for the city of Toronto. "In 15 or 20 years, there will be no ebb."

    If the desired expansions are approved, the PATH network will extend to College Park and include Ryerson University. Looking further to the future, the MaRS medical and biotech research district around the old Toronto General Hospital site at College and University Ave. may be linked to the underground.

    Rezoski is confident the system will be easier to navigate. With the new developments, there's a chance to straighten out the network and its corridors, so the routing can be simplified, he says. For example, the redevelopment of the Richmond-Adelaide Centre, where a 48-storey building is proposed to replace a smaller building, promises a more orderly underground.

    Planners are also looking at using more skylights so people walking below ground can glance up and see a familiar landmark. Another way of helping orient pedestrians is to have two-storey spaces, with escalators going up to ground level, to remind people where they are.

    The city's priority for pedestrians is still sidewalks with attractive landscaping. "If we didn't have the PATH system, we'd be looking at severely congested sidewalks," says Rezoski. "This is a kind of relief valve."

    To some, however, underground pedestrian networks are bastions of privatization and exclusion. Ute Lehrer, a planning professor at York University's faculty of environmental studies, notes that private security guards can move along the poor and dispossessed. "If you don't fit the normal profile of the normal user of these pathways, you are not welcome."

    Privately owned undergrounds have hours of opening and closing, she points out. They are often desolate on weekends. "While on the sidewalk, you have Jane Jacobs `eyes on the street,' which you don't have in the underground. It's intriguing on Saturdays and Sundays because you feel comfortable and uncomfortable at the same time."

    She links life in the underground to the condominium boom, and with that, she says, a less engaged society. "You no longer encounter the other – the homeless, people on the margins. You avoid them by using the PATH system or moving to a condo tower, where you can go down to your garage and drive off – it's a homogenized and sanitized environment."

    But still, she can see comfort in the underground network, once you are familiar with it. "It gives a village experience – you know where the stores are, the access points to each building, which is the quickest way from subway to your workplace."

    A lively underground, if well designed, can lead to a better city, with safer, more animated corridors, says planner Rezoski. Subterranean links to the subway attract business to the downtown, but they can also be appealing because of their access to residential buildings. He notes that PATH connects people to daycares, schools, libraries, grocery stores, community centres and theatres. "We are trying to make our downtown as family-friendly as possible. This is one component of that – it's a safe route for children, they don't have to deal with traffic, and the whole system has private security."

    There's also the protection PATH affords pedestrians when winter howls through financial district wind tunnels. Though one recent, perfect summer day, when the temperature was 25C and humidity was low, the subterranean city was packed with people. Burrowing underground, it seems, has become a year-round way of life.
  11. spaced

    spaced Active Member

    May 7, 2007
    Likes Received:
    Believe it or not but the PATH is starting to become a tourist attraction. I was really surprised when a friend from Glasgow had read about it and was interested in going to TO to see it. He's not into architecture or urban planning--just though it sounded fascinating.
  12. lordmandeep

    lordmandeep Banned

    Apr 25, 2007
    Likes Received:
    its amazing and something that is unique to Canadian city.

    I remember i was on the PATH under the Bay store and i was walking through bed sets and mattresses and i ask an old lady if i am on the PATH....

    She looks up and says in a dramatic fashion "Your on the PATH!!!" :D

    Maybe if you didn't have to walk down the streets and get haggled by beggars like in third world country, would people go on the sidewalks more.

    Nonetheless, really shows you how vibrant the city is that even though the underground is so busy, the sidewalks are still as well.
  13. ShonTron

    ShonTron Moderator

    Apr 24, 2007
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    Ward 27
  14. lordmandeep

    lordmandeep Banned

    Apr 25, 2007
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    is the part under the BA done????

    Some said it was and others said its u/c...
  15. allabootmatt

    allabootmatt Senior Member

    May 13, 2007
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    "what is clearly Avenue Rd."

    My...looks like the Star is relaxing its editorial standards to match the plummeting ones at the Globe. Let the race to the bottom begin!

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