By Sue Stefko
The Glebe and the Glebe Annex can expect some new traffic challenges over the next few years as the province begins replacing 10 bridges in five spots along the Queensway.
As part of the Ministry of Transportation’s Midtown Bridges project, the Rochester and Booth bridges will be replaced in 2022, the Bronson and Percy bridges in 2023 and the Preston bridge in 2024. But work is expected to start this year, and that will mean road closures and detours as part of the staging and construction activities.
Most imminently for the Glebe Annex, sections of Orangeville Street will be closed to create a staging area at some point in 2021. It will remain closed between Rochester and Booth as well as between Booth and Lebreton Street South for the entire construction period. Traffic will still be able to use Booth, and there will still be access to the Natural Resources Canada parking lot on Orangeville. Other closures include the Bronson eastbound off- ramp, which is expected to close for 10 months starting this year to enable the extension of the off-ramp and other works along the south side of the highway.
North of the 417, Raymond Street will be closed between Rochester and Booth for approximately 20 months this year and next as it will be part of the staging areas for construction of the new Rochester and Booth bridges. Raymond Street will also be reduced to a single lane of traffic from Lebreton North to Booth during the same period. Carling and Bronson will be major detour routes during the project (although at times the north/south traffic will be diverted to Rochester or Booth) as a result of highway and ramp closures.
The big change proposed for the Bronson interchange includes lengthening the off-ramp, widening it to add a third lane and realigning Chamberlain Avenue to allow eastbound motorists to continue straight instead of taking the jog south at Bronson. However, motorists who are turning onto Chamberlain from Bronson cannot use the newly realigned section – they must still turn at the existing jog so as not to back up traffic at the Bronson/Catherine inter- section. Other changes include updated lighting, utility relocations and changes to the existing traffic lights.
A new five-metre-high noise barrier will replace the existing one from Booth to the Bronson off-ramp. Where possible, the barrier will be made of composite concrete panels; where the noise barrier needs to be mounted on a structure, such as at the Bronson over- pass and on the retaining wall from Bell Street South to Arthur Lane South, a thinner and lighter material, acrylite, will be used instead.
The Glebe Annex Community Association (GACA) is pleased with some aspects of the plan, such as the replacement of noise barriers and the realignment of Chamberlain Avenue for motorists coming off the Bronson exit. In the interest of safety, we would have preferred to see all traffic use the realigned Chamberlain, to stop south- bound motorists from having to turn left across Bronson (without the benefit of a traffic light) to access Chamberlain. We are also concerned for pedestrians at the off-ramp who will have to cross an additional lane of traffic. The intersection is already dangerous because motorists speed down the off-ramp and turn on to Bronson without checking for pedestrians, even at a red light. We are continuing to work to ensure that pedestrian safety is taken into consideration and that there is a clear signage to alert drivers.
Finally, GACA would like to see more public spaces; for example, the expansion of Glebe Memorial Park as Chamberlain Avenue moves north would produce more park space.
The road closures and detours combined with the construction of the 289 Carling supportive housing project and plans for the 16-storey seniors’ residence at 275 Carling and the seven- unit apartment at 7 Maclean, starting soon, means our neighbourhood will be impacted for some time. GACA will continue to do our best to keep the community informed and will try to mitigate where possible. We also hope to keep hearing about the challenges and frustrations you face, so we can represent the community’s concerns.
Sue Stefko is president of the Glebe Annex Community Association.