Residents and businesses in the heart of downtown Toronto are bracing for disruption as a years-long road closure begins.
Starting on Monday, May 1, a major portion of Queen Street will be closed to all traffic while construction takes place on a new subway station.
“It’s definitely a sense of anxiousness. There’s still a lot of uncertainty,” Meg Marshall, manager of the Queen Street West BIA, told Global News.
Queen Street from Bay to Yonge streets and Yonge to Victoria streets will be completely shut down as plans for the Ontario Line take shape, including the construction of its Queen station.
The Ontario Line is set to run from Don Mills and Eglinton, pass through Toronto’s east end, and eventually reach Exhibition Place.
The businesses represented by the Queen Street West BIA are located west of University Avenue and will not be directly impacted by the closures, but there is a fear through-traffic could dry up in a downtown environment that has not yet recovered from the pandemic.
“It’s just encouraging foot traffic and people to continue to make their way to Queen Street to ensure that it’s still thriving and vibrant,” said Marshall, describing what the area needs in the face of construction.
The closures are expected to be in place for four-and-a-half years.
Closing the road entirely, instead of lane-by-lane, could increase delivery of the station by a year, according to Metrolinx.
Marshall said local businesses had pushed the City of Toronto to create a project carefully monitoring the economic impact of construction — while they were also pushing for careful work to go into drawing people to the construction-stricken area.
“We really just want to make sure that the city has consistent messaging to remind people to come downtown, make sure that it’s giving clear wayfinding … and creating temporary interest pieces, too,” she said. “Give people a reason to come downtown.”
Several kilometres north, the continued closure of Eglinton Avenue for the construction of the Crosstown LRT is another cause for concern. The project — under construction for more than a decade — was supposed to be delivered several years ago, but road closures and construction disruption continue to plague the street.
As a result of the Queen Street closure, Toronto’s 501 streetcars will see massive detours and route changes. Local Toronto Transit Commission buses will also be rerouted.
Queen Street 501 streetcars will divert up McCaul Street to run along Dundas Street instead of Queen until they reach Broadview Avenue, where they will return to Queen.
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