After years of local organizing, things are finally getting underway for the West Toronto Railpath extension.
The federal government announced this week that it will fund $11.7 million of the estimated total of $23 million for the extension. The news comes as part of a larger provincial and federal initiative to fund transportation infrastructure in Ontario.
Map by the City of Toronto.
The Railpath extension itself was approved by the City of Toronto back in January 2016, and the construction of Phase Two has already started on the Dufferin Street Bridge, which is being expanded by Metrolinx to make way for extra train tracks and the cycling trail.
“It’s all systems go,” says Jared Kolb, the director of Cycle Toronto. “It’s a really exciting development for the city. This will enable and create a really safe cycling connection. Taking it down to Strachan in terms of connectivity will be crucial.”
The current Railpath is 6.5 kilometres long and was completed in 2009. It runs along the Kitchener GO train line from just north of Dupont Street to Dundas Street West. Jacquelyn Hayward Gulati, the manager of cycling infrastructure at the City of Toronto says that as of May 2013, about 1,000 cyclists and 100 pedestrians use the current trail on a daily basis, and estimates predict that 2,000 people will use the path daily once the extension is finished.
Phase Two will run from Dundas Street West just south of Bloor Street West along the train tracks to Abell Street, which is just east of Dufferin. The extension will also connect western Toronto neighbourhoods to Liberty Village, and hopes are that it will eventually connect to Fort York and the downtown core, although that phase is still being researched.
“The West Toronto Railpath will provide a grade-separated alternative to travel between western Toronto neighbourhoods and the downtown core. The project will connect these two areas, and allow a safe and efficient corridor for bicycles and other active transportation,” says Gulati.
Cycling in Toronto can often be dangerous due to the grid layout of the city, where most routes run east and west with cars and streetcars creating hazards for bikers.
“Studies have shown that one-third of all collisions are due to streetcar tracks,” says Kolb.
The Railpath developments come just weeks after the Bloor Street bike lane pilot project was installed. According to Kolb, the beauty of the Railpath is that it’s an isolated trail where cyclists can maneuver safely and efficiently through the western neighbourhoods of Toronto.
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