Metrolinx has released new details on the westernmost stretch of Toronto's future Ontario Line subway. The plans reveal a new alignment for this part of the future rapid transit line, stretching from Exhibition Place to the intersection of Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue.

Metrolinx planners have reconfigured plans for the subway so that it extends, for the most part, diagonally between those two points. An earlier proposal used an alignment that required trains to negotiate two sharp turns to reach their destination. In a post on its news blog, Metrolinx says the new route will give riders shorter trips and reduce construction impacts by straightening out two bends. The diagonal theme will also affect the layout of the new station at King Street West and Bathurst Street – the new station will straddle that intersection diagonally from southwest to northeast.

The map shows the new and old proposals for the Ontario Line route, image: Metrolinx

The blog post quotes Michael Tham, the Metrolinx deputy technical director for the Ontario Line. "By straightening out the curve and going diagonal, we can give passengers a ride that is smoother, faster and more comfortable, with the added benefit that it will also reduce track maintenance," he explained. "We looked at the challenges and complexity of 90 degree turns, how deep the tunnels would have to be to avoid impacting existing buildings in that neighbourhood and the number of properties that would be impacted."

Due to the depth of the tunnelling through these areas, Metrolinx says that it won't need the majority of buildings overhead to accommodate construction. Tunnelling deep into the bedrock below the surface and reducing the curvature of the route reduces the potential for vibration and noise and allows the transit agency to deliver the Ontario Line while avoiding impacts to the built environment.

The map details the plans for the future Exhibition Station, including tail tracks (#1) and station site (#2), image: Metrolinx

The western terminal for the new line is at Exhibition Place. The new Exhibition Station is on the north side of the GO Transit rail corridor near Atlantic Avenue. Tail tracks west of the future station provide space to store Ontario Line trains and protect for a future extension of the line. At this location, the subway tracks will be above-ground, allowing easier transfer between the subway and GO's Lakeshore West line. That also means it can offer a direct link for the nearby. fast-growing Liberty Village neighbourhood. Metrolinx says that 18,900 people live, and 24,100 jobs are available, within 500 metres of the future subway station -- a number that likely will continue to grow.

Leaving Exhibition, the tracks are on the surface (#1). The west tunnel portal is just east of Strachan Avenue (#2). Metrolinx would preserve Garrison Crossing (#3) and other bridges, image: Metrolinx

The trains would proceed on the surface until just east of Strachan Avenue, where they would enter a portal and plunge underground. Metrolinx would build launch shafts and portal at the site of the future Ordnance Park on the north side of the GO corridor. From there, the tunnel boring machines will start to work their way northeastward.

After construction is finished, the City of Toronto will build a park on top of the portal. Metrolinx is studying ways to minimize impacts and maintain pedestrian and cycling access across the rail corridors for the duration of the project, including the Garrison Crossing.

According to Tham, "The downtown tunnels will have to go through soft soil and bedrock. At Ordnance Park, our alignment is fully within bedrock, and that will reduce tunnelling risks by removing the soil interface the tunnelling machines would otherwise have to go through."

The future station and King Street West and Bathurst Street straddles the intersection diagonally. The layout preserves the historic Wheat Sheaf Tavern (#1), image: MetrolinxAt King and Bathurst, the planners decided to go with a diagonal layout for the future station there. That alignment will avoid the possibility of having to demolish the Wheat Sheaf Tavern on the southwest corner. Operating at the intersection since 1849, the Wheat Sheaf is likely the oldest public house in Toronto.

The proposed route would continue northwesterly to Queen Street West near Augusta Avenue, where it would assume a path right below Queen West. Metrolinx intends to build the third and final station for this segment of the future line at the intersection of Queen and Spadina Avenue.

Future station at Queen Street West and Spadina Avenue (#1), image, MetrolinxMetrolinx says it will release similar information on three remaining sections of the line over the next few weeks:

  • Downtown: Osgoode to the Don River;
  • East: Don River to Pape; and
  • North: Pape to Eglinton.

In the meantime, you can review and comment on the project by visiting the Metrolinx Engage site here.

Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment in the space provided on this page.

* * *

UrbanToronto has a new way you can track projects through the planning process on a daily basis. Sign up for a free trial of our New Development Insider here.