Changes are coming to Port Union Road and maybe sooner than expected.
The project to widen Port Union Road between Lawrence Avenue East and Kingston Road is currently scheduled for 2019 to coincide with a pavement rehabilitation. However, if everything goes according to plan, both projects may be moved up to 2016 or even 2015.
“There is some flexibility — the intent is to move that up from 2019 to an earlier year,” said Stephen Schijns, manager of infrastructure planning for Toronto Transportation Services. “We may be able to get some preliminary work [done in] 2015, but 2016 would be the best bet.”
The City of Toronto held an open house on Dec. 11 to advise the public of changes to an Environmental Study Report (ESR) completed in 2004 and to get input on other changes and important conditions to consider.
The original ESR recommended a second northbound lane, bike lanes, turn lanes and a median. However the original design impacted six properties along Port Union Road, so three new design options are being considered.
“About a year and a half ago, we took it upon ourselves to revisit that plan and to reconsider how we might be able to tighten the design to avoid the property impact,” Schijns said.
Option one adds a northbound lane and a two-way centre left-turn lane north of Josaly Drive. Options two and three consist of the same changes as Option one but add bike lanes as well as a centre median in the south end of Port Union Road. Option three includes a median south of Winter Gardens Trail, while Option two only has a median between Lawrence Avenue East and Clappison Boulevard.
Cyclist Douglas Yardley said he would only support one of the options that includes bike lanes.
“I would like to see bike lanes on Port Union Road. They’re a logical connection between the bike lane on Sheppard [Avenue] East and the Waterfront Trail,” Yardley said. “And generally speaking, I think everybody benefits when we make the road safer for cyclists.”
The addition of bike lanes on Port Union Road is not guaranteed, as Options two and three are more expensive than Option one, which lacks bike lanes.
“We’ll have to reconvene our technical team at the city and our executive leaders and make the decision as to where that trade-off falls, between the space and the cost and the greenery,” Schijns said.
Surjeel Khan’s home backs onto Port Union Road; and he has his own concerns about the project.
“I’ve been there for the past 20-21 years and in those years I’ve put almost eight to 10 big dump trucks of soil there and that portion keeps on sinking down.” Khan said.
He said the city will need to take great care to ensure the same erosion that keeps ruining his garden does not wreak havoc on the widened road. He is also worried about an increase in traffic noise.
“When they widen the road, it’s going to come four or five metres closer to my backyard,” he said. “My concern is they should put up some kind of barrier for noise reduction.”
Schijns is confident the noise level will remain consistent.
“Normally the need to introduce noise protection measures follows from a significant growth in traffic,” he said. “We don’t expect to trigger the need for noise protection, but the planting and the landscaping may help to do some screening.”
An environmental aAddendum report will be presented to the public works committee in April 2014. Once city council endorses the report, it will be made available to the public for a 30 day review period, after which the city will be able to implement the new design.
More information about the Environmental Assessment can be found at toronto.ca/portunionroad