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My letter to Metrolinx CEO John Jensen

Please go further and study tunnelling the LRT all the way from Martin Grove Road to Scarlett Road

Dear Friends, 

Early last year Toronto Mayor John Tory announced that the City would no longer consider heavy rail on Eglinton Avenue as part of his Smart Track proposal and would proceed with a light rail transit plan.
 
Even though the Eglinton West LRT is just one part of Smart Track, it would be the largest infrastructure project Etobicoke Centre has ever seen.

Originally, no grade separations above or below ground were being considered. That is why since learning about the potential impact of this project on our community, I have been advocating for the LRT to be tunneled underneath Eglinton Avenue, from Martingrove Road all the way to Scarlett Road.
 
In October, I was pleased to see that our efforts are paying off, as the City of Toronto and Metrolinx agreed to study grade separations at all major intersections on Eglinton, including Martin Grove, Kipling, Islington, Royal York, and Scarlett. They have also agreed to perform a traffic analysis and hold more community consultations.

This was welcome news, but we must go further. It is important that the City of Toronto and Metrolinx study the tunneling of the LRT, not just at key intersections, but all the way from Martin Grove Road to Scarlett Road.

That is why I wrote a letter to Metrolinx interim CEO John Jensen today to formally request that the next reports from the City of Toronto and Metrolinx study the full range of grade separation options for the Eglinton West LRT—including tunneling the LRT line from Martingrove Road all the way to Scarlett Road. I strongly believe that only by tunneling the LRT can we make Eglinton work.
 

 
Here is the text of letter I wrote:
 

May 10, 2017

John Jensen

President and Chief Executive Officer

Metrolinx

97 Front Street West,

Toronto, ON M5J 1E6

 

Dear Mr. Jensen,

As you know, early last year Toronto Mayor John Tory announced that the City would no longer consider heavy rail on Eglinton Avenue as part of his Smart Track proposal and would proceed with a light rail transit plan. The plan that was originally proposed for the project was an at-grade LRT that would run along the middle of Eglinton Avenue—the Eglinton West LRT.

Mayor Tory’s Smart Track project is part of a plan to get the city moving. Even though the Eglinton West LRT is just one part of Smart Track, it would be the largest infrastructure project Etobicoke Centre has ever seen. There is a discussion taking place right now in my riding of Etobicoke Centre regarding the proposed LRT and the future of public transit along Eglinton Avenue. Eglinton is an important corridor that is vital to my community as it is home to tens of thousands and part of the commute for many more every day.

Since this proposal was put forward, my constituents have expressed deep concerns to me about how an at-grade LRT would impact our community. The majority of my constituents have expressed a strong desire for the train to be tunneled. Their preference was voiced loud and clear at a consultation that I organized in Etobicoke Centre last year with your predecessor Bruce McCuaig and Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca.

I have been fighting hard, along with our local councillors, to get results for our community on this issue. I have consulted with our community, met with local residents and ratepayers organizations, met with the Premier and Minister Del Duca on a number of occasions, met with Mayor John Tory and city officials and hosted a consultation with Metrolinx and Minister Del Duca.

I have also written Mayor Tory to ask him to stop the ongoing sale of city lands, which began under the Ford administration, on the North side of Eglinton Avenue—lands that have been reserved for transit for decades. I was pleased that Mayor Tory responded that the City plans to maintain ownership of these lands.

Originally, no grade separations above or below ground were being considered. That is why since learning about the potential impact of this project on our community, I have been advocating for the LRT to be tunneled underneath Eglinton Avenue, from Martin Grove Road all the way to Scarlett Road.

In October, I was pleased to see that our efforts are paying off, as the City of Toronto and Metrolinx agreed to study grade separations at all major intersections on Eglinton, including Martin Grove, Kipling, Islington, Royal York, and Scarlett. They also agreed to perform a traffic analysis and hold more community consultations.

This was welcome news, but we must go further. It is important that the City of Toronto and Metrolinx study the tunneling of the LRT, not just at key intersections, but all the way from Martin Grove Road to Scarlett Road.

I recognize that the Mayor has agreed that the City of Toronto will fund the Eglinton West LRT project and that tunnelling from Martin Grove Road to Scarlett Road will be more costly than an at-grade solution. However, the option must be considered given the benefits a tunnelled LRT would have for traffic flow along the Eglinton corridor and our local residential streets as well as for transit riders. If the study does not examine this option, it would seriously undermine my confidence that the City of Toronto and Metrolinx have considered the full range of design options and best interests of my community in their transit plan.

That is why I am writing to formally request that the next reports from the City of Toronto and Metrolinx study the full range of grade separation options for the Eglinton West LRT—including tunneling the LRT line from Martin Grove Road all the way to Scarlett Road. I strongly believe that only by tunneling the LRT can we make Eglinton work.

My understanding is that after conducting more consultations and studies, City of Toronto staff and Metrolinx plan to produce a "refined project concept" for Toronto City Council by late 2017, which is when Council will vote on the final design. The final design will also be presented alongside a study on how many stops there should be and an analysis on potential grade separations.

I will continue to advocate for meaningful community consultations, a strong business case and an LRT plan that addresses the impacts on our local community, so that a transit plan is developed that is beneficial to commuters, taxpayers and to our community.

Please help us ensure that Etobicoke gets the transit solution that it deserves. 

Thank you,

Yvan Baker, MPP

Etobicoke Centre

 

cc:

Steven del Duca, Minister of Transportation

John Tory, Mayor of Toronto

Councillor Stephen Holyday, Ward 3, City of Toronto

Councillor John Campbell, Ward 4, City of Toronto

Leslie Woo, Chief Planning Officer Planning and Policy, Metrolinx

 

I will continue to advocate for meaningful community consultations, a strong business case and an LRT plan that addresses the impacts on our local community, so that a transit plan is developed that is beneficial to commuters, taxpayers and to our community.


If you wish to find out more about this issue please read my last web update on the LRT issue: http://www.yvanbaker.onmpp.ca/News/13138?rc=l&l=EN

I welcome your feedback on this issue. If you have any comments or questions, please contact my office at 416-234-2800 or ybaker.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

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