Residents living near the Davenport Diamond railway crossing are worried that Metrolinx is pushing through a plan to build a 1.4-kilometre rail overpass through their neighbourhood without consultation or sufficient forethought.
Metrolinx released a feasibility study last month that endorsed the overpass option, claiming that it would cost $140 million compared to $406 million for a trench and $626 million for a tunnel. Metrolinx also estimated the overpass would be much quicker to build. But Sam Barbieri, a member of the newly formed group Options for Davenport, says that in choosing the overpass, the government agency didn’t seriously consider other options or sufficiently address the possible negative impacts on the area. Metrolinx released the plan in the spring, much to the surprise of the community and the City of Toronto, soliciting ideas for what to do with the space under the overpass as if that was the only topic for discussion.
“Metrolinx has a way of saying things that promote their preferred option only,” says Barbieri. “We’ve been very frustrated because we haven’t gotten a lot of straight answers from them.”
Metrolinx wants to remove the crossing of its tracks and the east-west CP freight line at Davenport and Lansdowne, known as the Davenport Diamond, to increase GO train service along the Barrie corridor. Options for Davenport describes the overpass proposal as a “Mini Gardiner” that would be as high as three storeys, creating noise and casting shadows on the surrounding area. Metrolinx created a community reference panel to come up with ideas to mitigate the impact of the overpass, including cycling and walking paths, as well as possibilities for lighting and design. But Barbieri says there are no plans or money to maintain the space.
The City is expected to release a report on the proposal in advance of a streamlined provincial environmental assessment, set to take about six months beginning in November. Construction could start soon after that.
Barbieri says that not only should the overpass itself be reconsidered, but whatever option goes ahead should take into account the long-term goal of electrifying the GO Train system. “Right now all the thinking is so short term,” he says.
Writer: Paul Gallant
Source: Sam Barbieri
Reposted from Yonge Street Media. Publication currently inactive.