The West Toronto Railpath southeast extension is inching closer to reality, as a recent update on the City of Toronto's website details the progress that has been made, and the work to come. The collaboration between the City of Toronto Transportation Services and Metrolinx will extend the existing pathway, while connecting a number of cycling routes and creating a sort of West End cycle highway for faster, safer, and more convenient travelling. The West Toronto Railpath also acts as a recreational urban trail in a relatively dense portion of the city where segregated multi-use paths are hard to come across. Currently, the path begins at Cariboo Avenue just north of Dupont Street, travels south beside the Milton and Kitchener GO lines and the UP Express corridor, and comes to its current terminus at Dundas Street. The next phase of the path (as pictured below) is set to stretch from Dundas southward to Sudbury Street, halfway between Queen and King Streets.

West Toronto Railpath Extension and Neighbouring Projects Map, image via City ofWest Toronto Railpath Extension and Neighbouring Projects Map, image via City of Toronto

Currently, several technical challenges are being addressed as the extension progresses closer to reality including: finalizing the team to create the detailed design, negotiating with relevant private properties where more land is needed, negotiating with impacted utility infrastructure owners and the relocation of services, as well as working with community stakeholders and local councillors to ensure a well designed outcome. Physically, the largest barrier to cross is where the Barrie GO line merges with the corridor south of Dundas Street. Here a bridge will need to be built which also connects to a new Railpath planned for the Barrie corridor to the north, known as the Davenport Diamond Greenway. Councillor Ana Bailao's office is leading the charge for this infrastructure upgrade.

The detailed design of the West Toronto Railpath will include finalizing all elements of the project itself, from the lighting choices, to the street furniture, signage, and landscaping. Detailed design concept drawings produced over the next year give Torontonians a look at what the West Toronto Railpath will be like. The team is aiming to release the final detailed design drawings sometime in 2018.

View of the GO Rail Corridor and West Toronto Rail Path looking North from the WView of the GO Rail Corridor and West Toronto Rail Path looking North from the Wallace Footbridge, image by Flickr user vgedris

A completed environmental assessment has already established the final trail route, planning are being coordinated by the City and Metrolinx, as much of the extension will be located within the Metrolinx owned rail corridor. Beside the Railpath, Metrolinx is undertaking the expansion of the rail corridor and electrification of the GO rail corridors, the Kitchener and Barrie lines and UP Express in this case. As a result, negotiations are underway between the two agencies to create a design that will ensure the West Toronto Railpath properly serves its users, yet does not interfere with Metrolinx's rail-related endeavours.

West Toronto Railpath Extension, City of Toronto, Metrolinx, TorontoLooking southeast along the widened Dufferin overpass north of Queen, image by Craig White

Some elements of the West Toronto Railpath extension have already progressed in anticipation of its completion. The most recent being the completion of the Dufferin Overpass expansion, where a widened bridge will allow for a expanded rail corridor as well as a future connection over Dufferin for the future Railpath users. Currently the trail over Dufferin sits alone in anticipation of the extension to come, but it is a sign that there is more to come in the area.

To the east, more studies are considering the following extension(s), including potential crossings of the rail corridor. One bridge called the King High Line is planned west of the King Street bridge, while another crossing is planned to the east of it. A recent story on UrbanToronto detailed the proposed Liberty Village Pedestrian & Cycling Bridge over the tracks between Douro Street and Lynn Williams Street.

King-Liberty Pedestrian Cycling Bridge, TorontoAerial view of the planned pedestrian cycling bridge, image courtesy of the City of Toronto

As more details on this project emerge we will be sure to keep you updated! In the meantime, be sure to checkout our dedicated Forum threads for the West Toronto Railpath and GO Rail Corridor Electrification. You can join in on the ongoing discussions in those threads, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.