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Frequently Asked Questions

Map of the Relief Line Project Assessment study area in Toronto

Questions

  1. What is being studied?
  2. Why is the eastern section of the Relief Line between Downtown and the Bloor-Danforth Subway east of the Don River being planned first??
  3. Why is a new subway line being planned?
  4. What is being done now to deal with congestion in the transit system? Aren't there quick fixes that can be done now?
  5. What is the timing for the Relief Line project?
  6. Why does it have to take so long?  The new subway is needed now.
  7. When will there be certainty around the final alignment, station locations and property impacts?
  8. How have decisions about the Relief Line been made so far?
  9. How is the spacing of stations determined?  They seem too far apart/too close together.
  10. The route/station location shown on the recommended preferred alignment map is under my home, what does this mean?
  11. What will the sound and vibration from the subway train be like from my living room? How does this to existing subways today?
  12. How will the value of my property be affected?
  13. What kind of construction techniques will be used for subway tunnelling?
  14. How will the subway construction affect surrounding homes and neighbourhoods?
  15. How will businesses that are sensitive to noise be able to continue work while construction is underway?
  16. This is the first I have heard about the Relief Line.  How can I stay informed?

 

Q: What is being studied?

A: In 2014, City Council approved the Terms of Reference and Public Consultation Plan for the Relief Line Project Assessment.  The study will determine the preferred alignment and stations for a new rapid transit line (subway) that would connect downtown to the Bloor-Danforth Subway (Line 2) at Pape Avenue.

The Relief Line is required to accommodate current and future ridership demands on the Yonge subway (Line 1), relieve crowding and congestion at the Bloor-Yonge interchange station, and provide new transit capacity to relieve overcrowding on the surface transit network. 

Following the identification of the preferred alignment/stations, the project will be ready to advance to a formal Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP). 


Q: Why is the eastern section of the Relief Line between Downtown and the Bloor-Danforth Subway east of the Don River being planned first?

A: In 2012, the City/TTC conducted the Downtown Rapid Transit Expansion Study (DRTES) to assess the need for additional rapid transit capacity into downtown. DRTES concluded that the first phase of the Relief Line, between downtown and the Bloor-Danforth Subway (Line 2) east of the Don River, would provide the greatest and most immediate benefit to relieving overcrowding on the Yonge Subway line. The study also recommended future extensions of the Relief Line to the north and west.

Riders west of Yonge Street already have the option of the University line to travel into the downtown. The first phase of the Relief Line would offer the same service to riders from the east and north, including East York, Scarborough, and parts of North York and the former City of Toronto. 

Potential future phases of the Relief Line include an extension to the west to the Bloor-Danforth Subway (Line 2) between Lansdowne and Keele, and extension to the  north to Eglinton and Don Mills Road, as well as a further extension north to Sheppard. These extensions have not yet been studied.


Q: Why is a new subway line being planned?

A: The City, TTC and Metrolinx have identified capacity issues bringing people to and from work in the downtown core. Union Station and the Bloor-Yonge interchange currently experience extreme congestion at times, and even with planned operational and equipment improvements, both will be over capacity within the next 15 years. 


Q: What is being done now to deal with congestion in the transit system? Aren't there quick fixes that can be done now?

A: There are several projects underway today that will increase capacity on the current network, including:

Even with all of these improvements, the Yonge Subway (Line 1) is expected to be over capacity again in 2031.


Q: What is the timing for the Relief Line project?

A: The Relief Line is currently an unfunded project, so there is uncertainty beyond the current work to seek approval of a preferred alignment through the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP) in 2017. If the design and procurement process are able to proceed immediately following that, then the new subway could be in operation by about 2031. An overview of the process is available here.  

 Click on the image above to see a larger version


Q: Why does it have to take so long?  The new subway is needed now.

A: Funding for the final design and construction phases will need to be identified for the work on the Relief Line to continue. If you wish to comment on transit priorities please speak to your elected officials. 


Q: When will there be certainty around the final alignment, station locations and property impacts?

A: A report to City Council is planned for early 2017.  This report will include the results of the evaluation of an additional alignment option along Carlaw between approximately Gerrard Street and Queen Street East, including additional consultation with area residents, as requested by City Council.  

The properties that may be impacted will be identified as part of the Environment Project Report (EPR) for TPAP (anticipated to be prepared in early 2017). 

During the Project Design phase, which is expected to begin in approximately 2018 (if project funding is in place), there will be more certainty on the properties that will need to be acquired for the final alignment and station locations.


Q: How have decisions about the Relief Line been made so far?

A: A subway alignment along Pape Avenue is not a new idea. It first emerged in the mid-1950s, then again in the mid-1980s, and more recently in 2012 as part of the Downtown Rapid Transit Expansion Study.  

The Relief Line Project Assessment has been underway for the past three year and has included the following key steps so far:

  • Identify possible station locations for connecting downtown to the Bloor-Danforth subway (Line 2)
  • Evaluate and test a long list of possible routing options
  • Refine the long list of routing options and identify and evaluate the best corridor options
  • Narrow down corridor options to identify the preferred corridor
  • Identify the alignment options within the preferred corridor
  • Evaluate the alignment options and identify an emerging preferred alignment

Further evaluation of a Carlaw option for the segment generally between Gerrard Street and Queen Street East is currently underway as requested by City Council.  [provide link to Council decision]

All options are evaluated using the criteria approved for this project, based on the Feeling Congested? framework. 


Q: How is the spacing of stations determined?  They seem too far apart/too close together.

A: The station spacing proposed for the Relief Line ranges from 750 to 1300 metres (except for the two downtown stations which would interchange with Line 1). This is consistent with station spacing on other subway lines in the city.  For example, station spacing on the Bloor-Danforth subway (Line 2) is between 550 to 850 metres. Typically, rapid transit stations are spaced between 750 and 1000 metres, which reflects the average distance people are willing to walk to access a station in a dense urban area. 


Q: The route/station location shown on the recommended preferred alignment map is under my home, what does this mean?

A: The properties that may be impacted will be identified once the Environment Project Report (EPR) is prepared in 2017.  During the Project Design phase, which is expected to begin in approximately 2018 (if project funding is in place), we will have further certainty on the final alignment, the properties impacted/needed to be acquired, and station locations. 

Owners of property that will be impacted will be contacted directly. Once property acquisition needs are identified, City of Toronto's Real Estate Services, which is responsible for acquiring property for TTC projects, works with property owners to negotiate mutually acceptable purchase agreements for the required property easement. Once the necessary project approvals and funding are in place, the City obtains an appraisal, survey and other property-related assessments, which are used as the basis for discussing the terms and conditions of a sale with the subject property owner.


Q: What will the sound and vibration from the subway train be like from my living room? How does this to existing subways today?

A: Further field testing to better understand local soil conditions is currently underway. This will inform the noise and vibration assessment for the Environmental Project Report (EPR).  The assessment will identify any potential situations where the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) guidelines may be exceeded. If any potential impacts are identified, the EPR will provide measures to mitigate the impacts to ensure that the guidelines are not exceeded.  In most cases, this can be addressed in how the track is designed.

Similar studies have been completed for other recent rapid transit projects, including the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and the Spadina Subway Extension.  

The technology that is used in track design today is very different than what was used in the past for the Bloor-Danforth and Yonge-University subway lines. The new technology is a “floating slab” system that employs rubber pads beneath concrete ties and additional rubber at all contact points.  This dampens the sound so that it is hardly noticeable (between10 to 35 dBA). 


 Q: How will the value of my property be affected?

A:  The City is doing further study to better understand the general potential impacts on residential property values of construction and operation of the Relief Line. We recommend that you consult a real estate professional to assist you with questions related to your property value. 


Q: What kind of construction techniques will be used for subway tunnelling?

A: The construction technology for the Relief Line has not yet been determined, since it is currently an unfunded project.  This would be determined as part of project design. 

Construction of the Eglinton Crosstown has used twin-bore tunnelling technology, as is the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension. Most of the stations are being constructed through traditional “cut and cover” method, while some are being “mined”.

Further details about recent Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension construction can be found at www.ttc.ca/Spadina.

 Information about Crosstown construction can be found at www.thecrosstown.ca.


Q: How will the subway construction affect surrounding homes and neighbourhoods?

A: During subway construction neighbourhoods in the area of subway construction could expect the following conditions:

  • Short-term access limitations due to construction
  • Longer-term access limitations due to construction necessary where ground stabilization, underpinning, and other construction activities close to or within buildings would occur
  • Possible acquisition of property for:
    • construction access and staging for tunnelling below
    • construction of station entrances
    • ancillary facilities (such as ventilation), and
    • emergency exits
  • For locations where it would not be feasible for the project to maintain reasonable access to residents and businesses, compensation may be considered for lost rental value, temporary relocation, etc.
  • For property takings, compensation based on fair market value and, in the case of partial takings, reduction (if any) of the value of the remaining property
  • Compensation for relocation services, replacement housing, etc.

Q: How will businesses that are sensitive to noise be able to continue work while construction is underway?

A:  A noise and vibration assessment will be conducted for the Relief Line as part of the work on the Environmental Project Report (EPR).  If you have a business that is sound/vibration sensitive, please contact us directly.


 Q: This is the first I have heard about the Relief Line.  How can I stay informed?