Expect a circuitous and much slower ride on parts of the 501 Queen streetcar route, starting next week.
Major work on Queen led by the TTC is going to require complete closings at Victoria, Leslie and Broadview. The first two are to be shut down simultaneously for about three weeks this month, adding an estimated 24 minutes to the trip times of people who stick with the streetcar as it diverts around the work.
The construction is a combination of routine upgrades and preparation for the new streetcars that will start service late in August. Some utility work will be done at the same time in order to minimize future closings.
"Doing this work simultaneously was seen as less inconvenient than staggering it and adding yet another date for construction later on," TTC spokesman Brad Ross said in an e-mail Monday, when asked about closing Victoria and Leslie at the same time.
"Many will opt for the bus-replacement service along Queen that will use a much shorter diversion routing than the streetcars. Others may travel up to [the Bloor-Danforth line] and utilize the subway. We'll have extra north-south bus service to accommodate people who wish to do this."
In recognition of the inconvenience that the work will cause, the TTC produced a video with CEO Andy Byford and Mr. Ross discussing the reasons for the closings. In it, Mr. Byford acknowledges the difficulties this work will cause, and urges people to continue to patronize local businesses near the construction sites.
Beginning on Sunday, May 11, the intersections at Queen-Victoria and Queen-Leslie will close. The first will be shut until the end of the month and the other until June 21.
Mr. Byford said that commuters have been experiencing the poor condition of the intersection at Victoria, with streetcars having to slow down because the concrete and tracks were "basically worn out." The plan is to replace "the whole intersection," during which the 501 streetcar will divert via Church, King and Spadina. The TTC has projected a delay of 12 minutes for this streetcar detour.
Victoria is slated to reopen at the start of June but Leslie is to remain shut for about three additional weeks. This closing – approximately six weeks in total – is being done to build a connector track that will let the new TTC streetcars run down Leslie to a new storage facility being built near the lake. During construction, the 501 will divert via Coxwell Avenue, Gerrard Street and Broadview, a detour expected to add 12 minutes to streetcar trip times.
Leslie is scheduled to reopen on June 22, with the next major closing coming, about 1.7 kilometres to the west, barely a week later. The intersection at Broadview is set to close June 30 until July 25. Mr. Byford, who called this "one of our busiest intersections," said that tracks and switches need to be replaced. The 501 will bypass the construction via Coxwell, Gerrard and Parliament Street, with a projected delay of 12 minutes.