Yonge Street subway extension moved after residents complained – .

Yonge Street subway extension moved after residents complained – .

The provincial transit agency says it is adjusting the route of a new subway project after York Region residents objected to plans to dig the line below their neighborhood – but some residents say changes don’t go far enough.

Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster announced Wednesday that the agency is changing the design of the Yonge North subway extension so that it will pass under fewer houses in the Royal Orchard neighborhood of Thornhill. Its tunnels will also be built deeper to reduce the impact on the community above.

In a statement posted on the Metrolinx website, Verster said the agency made the change after hearing from residents who feared the subway would be a “disruption to the community.”

“In response to these comments, and through our well-established process of improving designs as we move forward with our transit projects, Metrolinx has refined plans for the metro extension,” he said. he said, promising the “long-awaited project” “would bring faster transportation to more people in York Region and Toronto.”

According to Metrolinx, the new route will not significantly change the cost of the extension.

The Yonge North project is an approximately 8-kilometer extension of the TTC Metro Line 1 from Finch Station to Richmond Hill. According to previous plans, the metro would have remained underground under Yonge Street as it approached Richmond Hill.

But in March, the province released an updated design that saw the line run east near Royal Orchard Boulevard, then pass above ground parallel to the existing Richmond Hill GO Transit corridor, crossing under the houses and a small stream along the way. The number of stations has also been reduced to four, down from six in the previous plan. The province said the changes were needed to ensure the metro stays within its budget of $ 5.6 billion.

But residents of Royal Orchard have complained that tunneling and underground train operations could damage their homes and have negative environmental, economic, health and social effects on their community.

The last route will pass under Bay Thorn Drive where it deviates from Yonge, and instead of passing under 40 houses and 23 additional properties, will cross under 20 houses and 15 other properties. Metro tunnels below will be between 21 and 50 meters below the surface and will on average be deeper than in previous plans.

“These upgrades will maintain peace and quiet in the neighborhoods along the route while providing all the benefits of the York Region subway extension,” said Verster.

But Peter Palframan, a member of the Keep the Subway on Yonge resident group, said that while tunneling under fewer houses is an improvement, “the point is, it shouldn’t be under any house.”

“Our view from the start is that any alignment that goes under the houses, the creek and the ravine makes no sense when there is a perfect and better path, which goes straight up Yonge Street,” he said. -he declares.

Markham Council. Keith Irish agreed, saying in a statement that a metro on Yonge would serve more passengers and be more efficient at reducing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.

“While this is giving season and I’m glad Metrolinx has finally listened to the concerns of the Royal Orchard community… it’s still not the gift the residents of Thornhill have been looking forward to,” said Irish (Ward 1 Thornhill).

Metrolinx’s decision to relocate the Yonge North Road is likely to attract the attention of communities elsewhere in the GTA who say the agency has ignored their concerns about the impacts of provincial transit projects near their homes. These include the residents of Leslieville and Riverside in Toronto who have led an organized campaign against Metrolinx plans to build part of the Ontario Line above ground in their neighborhoods.

Ben Spurr is a Toronto reporter who covers transportation for The Star. Contact him by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr


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