Roads and Trails

Steeles Avenue East Bridge Environmental Assessment

The existing level crossing on Steeles Avenue East at the Stouffville GO railway limits the movement of pedestrians, cyclists, transit and vehicles in the area. There are daily issues of congestion and many road users experience difficulties travelling along and across Steeles Avenue East.

The purpose of the EA is to evaluate alternatives to address the increasing need  to build a bridge (road over rail or road under rail) in order to improve traffic congestion, safety, access and connections for all road users on Steeles Avenue East between Kennedy Road and Midland Avenue. Additional considerations include the widening of vehicle lanes from 4 lanes to 6 lanes as well as bicycle lanes and pedestrian improvements.

News and Updates

The Steeles Avenue East Bridge study report was completed and issued for a 30-Day public review period from March 9, 2017 to April 7, 2017.

Members of the public that were unable to resolve their concerns about the project with the City had the opportunity to request that the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change invoke Part II of the Environmental Assessment Act. The Part II Order request is an appeal provision for elevating the status of the project to an individual environmental assessment.

During the thirty day review period, two letters requesting Part II Orders were sent to the Minister and copied to the City of Toronto on March 31, 2017 and April 6, 2017.

The Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change has completed its review of the Part II Order requests.

The City of Toronto received the Minister's decision on July 7, 2017 which denied the above requests.
Read Minister Glen Murray's Letter of explanation for the decision.

The City of Toronto staff are working with Metrolinx to coordinate the Steeles Bridge implementation phase which will be carried out by Metrolinx. This coordination requires further work before a plan and schedule for detailed design can begin.

Two previous studies have been conducted for a bridge crossing of the Stouffville GO Rail Corridor at Steeles Avenue East. Key finding of both reports are provided below.

1994 Steeles Avenue East Grade Separation Environmental Study Report

The 1994 Environmental Study Report was initiated by the former Metropolitan Toronto because the area had undergone significant redevelopment and increasing traffic volumes were resulting in greater conflicts between rail and road traffic.

Based on the analysis and evaluation of alternative bridge designs, an overpass (road over rail) was recommended. Widening Steeles Avenue East from 4 to 6 lanes with streetscaping and bicycle lanes was also recommended to help alleviate traffic congestion.

2004 EA Study Addendum

In August 1996 Metro Council put the construction of the bridge crossing on hold due to the costs for property acquisition, potential reduction in usage of the rail line, and questions from adjacent property owners regarding the design.

The 2004 EA Study Addendum was then initiated to revisit the design for an underpass (road under rail) alternative, along with a more detailed comparison of the underpass and overpass options. The following conclusions were reached:

  • GO Transit and freight service on the rail corridor increased since 1993
  • A bridge crossing of the rail corridor was still warranted
  • An underpass (road under rail) design was the preferred option for the rail crossing of Steeles Avenue East
  • A pumping station was required to drain the underpass
  • Turff Avenue needed to be reconstructed as a cul-de-sac and a direct connection to Steeles Avenue East was no longer be possible
  • Steeles Avenue East should be widened to 6 traffic lanes with streetscape improvement and bicycle lanes

As a result of budgetary constraints and uncertainty related to adjacent development plans, the bridge crossing of the rail corridor has not yet been constructed. Given the period of time that has elapsed since the completion of the two former studies, the City of Toronto is initiating the Steeles Avenue Bridge EA to revisit and revaluate alternatives for a bridge crossing the rail corridor and the need to widen the existing roadway.

This study will take into consideration the previous studies completed together with the changes to the community that have taken place. 

Throughout the study, numerous opportunities will be provided for members of the public, government agencies and stakeholders to get involved and provide feedback to the project team.

To request assistance reading the files below, please contact Maogosha Pyjor at 416-338-2850 or mpyjor@toronto.ca.


Stakeholder Meeting #1 November 30, 2015

Staff introduced the study early on to property owners along Steeles Avenue East who may be affected by the grade separation.

Presentation
Meeting Summary


Stakeholder Meeting #2 February 26, 2016

Staff provided property owners with an update on work completed to date, options for consideration and a preliminary recommended option.

Presentation
Meeting Summary


Public Information Centre #1 March 23, 2016

The first public meeting took place on Wednesday March 23, 2016 at the L'Amoreaux Community Rec. Centre. Bridge and road widening options were discussed .

Public Meeting Presentation
Public Consultation Summary 


         

Public Information Centre #2 January 4, 2017

Photo from presentation at public meeting #2

The second public meeting took place on Wednesday January 4, 2017 at the L'Amoreaux Community Recreation Centre. Recommended design options were discussed.

Contents

Background. 1

1. What is a Class Environmental Assessment?. 1

2. What is the purpose of this project?. 1

3. Given past studies to grade separate Steeles Avenue East and the Stouffville GO Transit Rail Corridor, why hasn't the bridge and road widening already been built? And why are we studying this again?. 1

4. Given that the previous studies didn't get built, why would this study be carried out at this time?. 1

5. What is the study area of the project?. 1

Popular Questions. 1

6. What improvements can residents and businesses expect to see as a result of grade separation and road widening?. 1

7. What is the benefit of the proposed changes for Pedestrians and Cyclists?. 1

Environmental Assessment & Next Steps. 1

8. How long will the study take to complete?. 1

9. What happens when this study is complete?. 1

10. Who do I contact if I have comments or concerns during the 30 calendar day public review process?. 1

11. Where is the funding for the plan coming from?. 1

12. Will property acquisition be necessary?. 1

Construction. 1

13. When is the construction scheduled to start?. 1

14. Will accesses to existing properties be maintained?. 1

Consultation. 1

15. What can I do to get involved?. 1

Related Policies. 1

16. Why are walking and cycling important in the area?. 1

Accessibility. 1

17. What is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)?. 1

20. Will Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act apply to this Environmental Assessment?. 1

 

Background

1. What is a Class Environmental Assessment?

A Class Environmental Assessment (commonly known as a Class EA) is a study required by the Ontario Ministry of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) to assess the potential positive and negative effects of an individual project on the environment (i.e., social, cultural, natural, technical and economic environment).

Key components of a Class EA include:

·       Consultation with government agencies, Aboriginal peoples and the public

·        Consideration and evaluation of alternatives

·        Management of potential environmental effects 

For more information about the provincial Environmental Assessments process, please visit:
www.ene.gov.on.ca/environment/en/industry/assessment_and_approvals/environmental_assessments/index.htm

2. What is the purpose of this project?

The purpose of this study is to address current challenges and opportunities on Steeles Avenue East at the level crossing of the Stouffville GO Transit Rail Corridor (east of Kennedy Road).

Currently, the level crossing of the railway tracks restricts the movement of pedestrians, cyclists, transit and vehicles. A bridge (road over rail or road under rail) and road widening would help improve traffic flow, safety, and connections for all road users.

3. Given past studies to grade separate Steeles Avenue East and the Stouffville GO Transit Rail Corridor, why hasn't the bridge and road widening already been built? And why are we studying this again?

As a result of budgetary constraints and uncertainty related to adjacent development plans, the bridge crossing of the rail corridor has not yet been constructed. Given the period of time that has elapsed since the completion of the former studies, the City of Toronto is initiating the Steeles Avenue Bridge EA to revisit and revaluate alternatives for a bridge crossing the rail corridor and the need to widen the existing roadway.

4. Given that the previous studies didn't get built, why would this study be carried out at this time?

The City of Toronto, the Region Municipality of York and Metrolinx realize the congestion issues that exist today at Steeles Avenue East as it meets the rail corridor, and the additional impacts in the future as Metrolinx implements its Regional Express Rail initiative. All parties are working cooperatively to arrive at a recommended solution for the community, a solution that would improve traffic congestion, reduce train and vehicle conflicts, and promote active transportation.

5. What is the study area of the project?

The study area for the project is along Steeles Avenue East from Kennedy Road to Midland Avenue.

Popular Questions

6. What improvements can residents and businesses expect to see as a result of grade separation and road widening?

Residents can expect to see improvements to the traffic flow, pedestrian and cycling facilities, connections along and across Steeles Avenue East, and streetscape (e.g. widened sidewalks, plantings, lighting).

7. What is the benefit of the proposed changes for Pedestrians and Cyclists?

The proposed alternatives include widened sidewalks and dedicated bicycle lanes along Steeles Avenue East between Kennedy Road and Midland Avenue. Options are also being explored to include a connection to bring pedestrians north and south across Steeles Avenue East at the rail corridor.

Environmental Assessment & Next Steps

8. How long will the study take to complete?

The Study (final report) is expected to be completed late 2016, with the study Notice of Completion filed in early 2017.

9. What happens when this study is complete?

Once the Study's final report is completed, a 30-day review period will begin. 
A Notice of Study Completion will be issued to all stakeholders and the project mailing list and a copy of the Environmental Study Report (ESR) document will be made available on our website and in select local libraries for a 30-day review period. During the 30-day review period, a person can contact the City to resolve any outstanding concerns regarding the project.

10. Who do I contact if I have comments or concerns during the 30 calendar day public review process?

All comments or concerns about the study should be addressed to the following City staff:

Maogosha Pyjor
Public Consultation Unit, City of Toronto
Metro Hall, 19th Fl., 55 John Street, Toronto, ON M5V 3C6
Tel: 416-338-2850
Fax: 416-392-2974
TTY: 416-338-0889
E-mail: mpyjor@toronto

If concerns cannot be resolved in discussion with the City of Toronto, a person or party may request that the Minister of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC) make an order for the project to comply with Part II of the Environmental Assessment Act (referred to as a Part II Order). A Part II Order is an appeal provision for elevating the status of a project Schedule to an Individual EA process.

The City of Toronto will remain available to meet with interested parties and agencies to review the details of the proposed project. Any party wishing to provide additional comments on or requiring additional information regarding the projects is encouraged to contact the City of Toronto at the address above.

11. Where is the funding for the plan coming from?

Once a recommended preferred design is established as part of the EA study, cost-sharing discussion will be initiated with York Region and Metrolinx.

12. Will property acquisition be necessary?

Some property acquisition will be necessary. This study will perform an initial assessment of where property may be required to achieve the required public right-of-way in order to allow for the approved plan to be implemented. Detailed property requirements will be confirmed during detailed design activities that will follow this study.

The City will consult with affected property owners and negotiate property acquisition prior to construction.

Construction

13. When is the construction scheduled to start?

The timing of construction will be subject to the capital budget approval process and funding arrangements with York Region and Metrolinx. Capital budgets are part of a multi-year funding program which is adopted by Toronto City Council. The multi-year plan covers longer term and one-time expenditures for capital improvements.

For more information regarding the capital budgeting and approval process, please visit City Budget and more specifically, budget information for Transportation Services.

14. Will accesses to existing properties be maintained?

The study will examine impacts to accesses (driveways).

Consultation

15. What can I do to get involved?

Public consultation is an important part of this study. To get connected, please subscribe to the project mailing list by contacting Maogosha Pyjor, Senior Public Consultation Coordinator, by phone: 416-338-2850 or email: mpyjor@toronto.ca.

As part of this study, the City will host several stakeholder meetings and two (2) larger public events, called Public Information Centre (PIC) meetings. The public events include a drop-in portion for viewing study materials and speaking one-on-one with members of the project team, a presentation followed by a question-and-answer session.

You can learn more about this study and provide your input by visiting the project webpage: www.toronto.ca/steelesbridge

Related Policies

16. Why are walking and cycling important in the area?

The vision of Toronto’s Official Plan, adopted in 2010, is to create “an attractive and safe city that evokes pride, passion and a sense of belonging – a city where people of all ages and abilities can enjoy a good quality of life” (City of Toronto, 2007). Creating a walkable city is an important component of the Official Plan vision and Section 2.4 contains a number of policies that support the need to improve conditions for pedestrian and non-vehicular movement.

For Steeles Avenue East, this means improving existing sidewalks and connecting pedestrian facilities so that people can easily walk along and across Steeles Avenue East. Cycling improvements are necessary to connect the area to the destinations and the larger surrounding cycling network, as well provide safe cycling opportunities in general.

Accessibility

17. What is the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)?

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) was enacted by the provincial government in 2005 to help make Ontario accessible to people with disabilities. This act lays the framework for the development of province-wide mandatory standards on accessibility in all areas of daily life. For more information on the AODA visit: www.mcss.gov.on.ca/en/mcss/programs/accessibility/understanding_accessibility/aoda.aspx

20. Will Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act apply to this Environmental Assessment?

Conceptual and functional designs for new or upgraded infrastructure (e.g. sidewalks) that are developed as part of this project will be AODA compliant (where applicable).

 

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