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Track work slows down Spadina

Green redesign to limit streetcar-traffic crashes

Globe and Mail
Wednesday, August 9, 2000

Toronto — Tina Lam wants her streetcar back.

As the sauna-hot bus she was riding lurched between cement mixers and clattering jackhammers on Spadina Avenue yesterday, the shopper wondered whether it would be quicker to walk to Kensington Market.

Buses have temporarily replaced the Spadina-route streetcars so crews can work on the line.

So far, the construction to build curbs to keep cars off the streetcar tracks seems to be creating maximum traffic disruption with minimal visible progress.

However, the disruption, that will continue until the Labour Day weekend, will all be worth it, a spokesman for the TTC said.

The work is being done to protect drivers from their risky habit of playing chicken with the 22.7-tonne red rockets.

The city’s solution is to build a barrier too high for impatient drivers to mount, but low enough for pedestrians to cross.

The project is the second rebuilding of the streetcar line that opened in 1997.

Giving the streetcars their own lanes was supposed to cut down on accidents, but the TTC estimated that there were initially at least two accidents a week as Spadina Avenue drivers learned that streetcars can’t always screech to a halt when cars veer in front of them.

The new $1.5-million redesign was promoted along with the promise that it would plant trees along the Spadina streetcar line.

The trees are intended to restore the green boulevard that coloured Spadina a century ago, said Robert Glover of the city’s urban planning and development services.

The trees were to have been planted by June, but the curb construction work was put off until August at the request of area merchants, who figured this month will be least disruptive to their businesses.