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Rendering of Davenport bridge provided by grassroots group shows its unattractive side

Grassroots group Options for Davenport insists a grim architectural rendering released this week of a proposed GO Train bridge is an accurate representation of how the neighbourhood will look in the next few years, if the project is completed.

The rendering, prepared by a supporter of Options for Davenport, which opposes the bridge and wants a tunnel built instead, was posted on social media this week. It depicts the impact of an 8.5-metre high rail on Campbell Avenue Park, which lies within the study area proposed for the 1.4-kilometre structure to span from Bloor Street West to north of Davenport Road.

Should the bridge – which Metrolinx is proposing to build to eliminate the Davenport Diamond at-grade rail crossing – be approved the rendering suggests an austere landscape dominated by a concrete overpass dotted with graffiti, and green space devoid of trees and activity.

“It looks very similar to what (Metrolinx) has built in other places,” said group spokesperson Sam Barbieri on the afternoon of Wednesday, Dec. 9. “There are columns every 30 feet, it’s made of solid concrete and has no architectural value whatsoever.”

Barbieri also pointed to constant graffiti spray painted on special walls installed along the West Toronto Railpass to reduce noise and vibrations from the Union Pearson (UP) Express air rail link, suggesting the same fate would befall the proposed train bridge for Davenport.

Not so, according to Ann Marie Aikins of Metrolinx.

Aikins said the rendering presented a wholly inaccurate view of the overpass, which the agency wants to build to improve service for GO trains servicing the Barrie line. She said Metrolinx is fully committed to improving the lands under the bridge with more green space, cycle tracks and multi-use trail to connect with the park.

Aikins also took exception with the group’s contention trees will be removed from the park, pointing out the planning agency will plant three new trees for every two which need to be removed for construction.

“There is nothing technically accurate about this rendering,” said Aikins over email. “Metrolinx would never build an overpass that looked like this rendering.”

Barbieri insisted the bridge’s estimated $140 million price tag won’t be nearly enough to pay for an eye-catching design, as well as public realm improvements underneath, like a rejuvenated Campbell Park.

“Also add in maintenance costs and all of a sudden the cost of the bridge is the same as a tunnel,” he said.

A tunnel, which would cost well over $600 million according to initial projections from Metrolinx, would allow the same promised “amenities” but free from the shadow of an immense rail bridge, said Barbieri.

“Then we don’t have an eyesore and we don’t have safety issues,” he said. “We’d be in the sunshine and green grass, and there would be trees. People would be able to walk or bike all the way from Davenport Village to the Junction Triangle.”

Metrolinx plans to begin a six-month Environmental Assessment (EA) process for the Davenport Overpass early next year. It wants the project finished within five years to accommodate its RER expansion plans for GO, which would see much of the regional network electrified and service increased.

City planning staff had requested Metrolinx to pause commencing the EA until next spring, and chief planner Jennifer Keesmaat is expected to address Toronto city council this week to outline her concerns for the project.

Options for Davenport also received some support from former chief planner Paul Bedford and renowned waterfront architect Ken Greenberg, who urged Metrolinx to proceed with caution on its overpass plans.

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