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Davenport residents join together to protest bridge and support tunnel from Bloor to Davenport

A growing number of Davenport residents are doing all they can to fight the potential construction of what they are calling a “Gardiner Expressway-like structure” through their neighbourhood.

The non-partisan group, Options For Davenport, strongly supports the expansion of public transit; however, the proposal of a bridge estimated at 8.5 metres high and 1.4 to 1.6 kilometers in length from north of Bloor Street West to just south of Davenport Road is what raises concerns.

“We are certainly open to other options with more holistic planning principles, including a tunnel,” Laura Zeglen, chair of Options for Davenport, told The Villager.

“A tunnel, in particular, would have the triple benefit of unlocking new public green space – as opposed to grey space beneath a bridge; reduce the negative noise, pollution and visual impacts on this growing residential community; all while improving service to commuters using the Barrie GO corridor.”

Metrolinx’s recent feasibility report, which investigated the Davenport Diamond grade separation project to remove ground-level rail crossing, has indicated a tunnel is do-able, Zeglen said. And, compared to a trench, it would have minimal impacts on existing major arteries during construction because tunnel boring machines would operate underground, not at street level, she pointed out.

When reached for comment regarding the rising opposition toward an overpass, Metrolinx spokesperson Kim Johnson admitted there is no perfect solution to removing the Davenport Diamond.

“Feasibility or the ability to move forward with an option is based on an analysis of a number of criteria, including the short and long-term impacts of construction on roads, utilities, and road traffic, public health and environmental impacts, how difficult it is to build and overall affordability,” she said.

“Based on an analysis of the criteria, the overpass performs the strongest because in addition to minimizing impact on the community by being built within the existing corridor, it also provides long-term benefits by opening up the space under the rail corridor for community use and reconnecting streets that are currently divided by the corridor.”

Sam Barbieri, a founding member of Options for Davenport, disagreed. He said he’s worried about the health impacts of diesel trains travelling above local homes and parks.

“It’s like our community is expendable,” he said. “They’re not looking at the long term impacts on our community. If you build a tunnel, you can have access to green space.”

Despite the community’s opposition, Metrolinx said an overpass would have the “smallest footprint of impact” on local residents.

“It allows for the reconnection of Paton Avenue for pedestrians and cyclists, removes the existing crossing at Wallace Avenue and replaces it with a rail over road grade separation, allows for the connection of Antler Street and Lappin Avenue and the removal of the existing road under rail grade separation at Dupont Street,” Johnson said.

“It is also expected to cause limited disruption to the existing road network, transit and emergency services during construction and take 18 to 24 months to complete.”

Regardless, the bridge, Barbieri said, “looks like a mini-Gardiner.”

“This structure would be here for 100 years,” he said. “It will cast shadows on people’s homes. They’re not looking at the long term impacts on our community.”

Options for Davenport continues to canvass the neighbourhood to raise awareness of Metrolinx’s plans. It has embarked on a letter writing campaign as well.

“We want our MPP and the provincial government to know this is not right for our neighbourhood,” Barbieri said.

It is the group’s mission to provide a voice to the community.

“And, to help foster political support for coming up with a solution that can benefit all involved,” Zeglen said.

Reposted from the Bloor West Villager. Read the original story: Here.