Road closure. Those two words are capable of making any Torontonian motorist or surface transit user cringe. The recent string of downtown road closures continues to create a daily transport nightmare for thousands of downtown workers and resident. The unfortunate concurrence of these blockages has had a profound effect on the ebb and flow of city traffic, sometimes leading to moments of gridlock.

While it's easy to complain about these blockages, the rapid growth our city has experienced in the last decade has brought about the need for countless infrastructure upgrades. One downtown street in particular has been subject to lane closures since late last year to facilitate a massive overhaul, one which could result in a major shift in the public perception of our waterfront.

Lane closure on Queens Quay West, image by Jack Landau

In November of last year, Waterfront Toronto officially broke ground on the project, which will transform 1.7 kilometers of Queens Quay Boulevard from Bay Street to west of Spadina. The $110 million design is the result of an international design competition held in 2006. The winning design, by Netherlands-based West 8 and Toronto-based Du Toit Allsopp Hillier (DTAH), will feature widened tree-lined sidewalks, one lane each for east-west traffic plus turning lanes on the north side of the Queens Quay, with a dedicated corridor for streetcars down the middle of the right-of-way. To foster a true pedestrian-friendly environment, the sidewalks of Queens Quay will be relaid with red granite setts to create a wide pedestrian promenade, and a repaved Martin Goodman Trail, a favourite of local cyclists, will bit part of the mix. Many new trees will be planted in silva cells hidden under the sidewalk, the same technology which has allowed the new trees at Sugar Beach to thrive.

Diagram of the revitalization and its components, image courtesy of Waterfront Toronto

Although the work may seem easy enough on paper, there is a tremendous amount of below-grade infrastructure involved too, all of which must be completed before the ambitious surface work can begin. That's what is under way now.

Ongoing work on Queens Quay Boulevard, image by Jack Landau

Ongoing work on Queens Quay Boulevard, image by Jack Landau

There are multiple contractors on the job, all overseen by Eastern Construction. Waterfront Toronto tells us that any unforeseen slowdowns with one part of the job should not impact the entire schedule, as Eastern is able to throw resources at other aspects of the work to accelerate their timing.

A torn up stretch of Queens Quay, image by Jack Landau

While the photos above depict the early stages of the mess we have deal with, it is simply a matter of time—until Spting 2015—until we have a grand waterfront boulevard. Here's a quick look at what the future has in store for Queens Quay Boulevard:

Rendering of the completed project, looking west on Queens Quay from Simcoe

Rendering of the completed project, looking east on Queens Quay from Robertson

For additional information including project facts and renderings, please visit our dataBase page for this project, linked below, and recently beefed up with many more images. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated forum thread, or voice your opinion in the comments section provided below.

Related Companies:  DeepRoot Green Infrastructure, DTAH, urbanMetrics inc., Waterfront Toronto, West 8