Making sense of the LRT, Leslie and Leaside

Construction at the Crosstown.
Construction at the Crosstown.

It is not for nothing Toronto is said to have two seasons: winter and construction. But for those of us living anywhere near the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, it’s construction season all year round.

Major work continues. Starting on Canada Day, for two months Leslie Street will be closed at its southern end, just north of Eglinton Ave. This will allow Metrolinx to install tracks for Leslie’s LRT surface interchange. Eglinton will continue to be open, with one lane eastbound and one lane westbound, and access for pedestrians and bicycles maintained.

Will this affect Leaside? You bet.

Before Leslie is closed, work will cease on Bayview. And just as well, because the most immediate impact of the Leslie St. closure will be that Bayview becomes an alternate route for Leslie – all day, and particularly in the morning and evening peak periods.

July and August 2019.
July and August 2019.

Drivers coming from the north or northeast of the city in the morning, who now travel south on Leslie and then west on Eglinton, will probably begin to bypass Leslie farther north, using York Mills Rd., or Sheppard or Finch Ave. They will turn onto Bayview, their first opportunity to head south, and thus create a particularly heavy burden on this street.

During the evening peak period, returning commuters will no doubt seek north and eastbound alternatives to the gridlock on Bayview, i.e., use Leaside’s residential streets to get to Eglinton eastbound.

In short, nobody will be happy. But it’s work that has to be done.

There are, however, some bright spots.

First, Metrolinx promises to be finished by August 31st. Construction is scheduled for the lightest traffic period, when many people are away on holiday, their cars are not on the road, and schools are closed.

Also, current turn restrictions on Bayview at Eglinton will be lifted. Right and left turns will once again be possible in all directions. There will no longer be lane changes and narrowings along Bayview necessitating sudden lane switches.

Metrolinx, in conjunction with the city, plans a major advertising campaign about the Leslie closure, with advanced signage at main intersections far and near, to discourage drivers from only discovering the construction site at the last minute. Leslie St. will remain open – to traffic approaching from the north – so drivers coming from the north will still have complete access to businesses located there, and to Sunnybrook Park.

However, TTC passengers using public transit will experience inconveniences. Southbound Leslie buses will drop passengers just north of the construction, and turn around. Passengers will have to transfer on foot to Eglinton buses. The Lawrence East route will be detoured from Leslie to Don Mills Rd. The TTC says it will provide advance information to transit riders using those routes.

Leasiders will likely notice more crowded buses along Eglinton, as they will be carrying not only their normal riders but also passengers connecting from the Leslie routes. The LPOA raised this issue at Metrolinx’s public meeting in early April, and we were assured that additional buses would be made available. Once construction is underway we will raise the matter again. I have already spoken with Councillor Jaye Robinson regarding our concerns about anticipated traffic infiltration.

Our next monthly LPOA board meeting is on WEDNESDAY, MAY 1st at 7:30 p.m., in the Trace Manes building. Board meetings are always open to the public. For more information: lpoa.ca.

About Carol Burtin Fripp 78 Articles
Carol Burtin Fripp is Co-President of the Leaside Property Owners' Association, and is Chair of the LPOA's Traffic Committee. Over the years, she has served on numerous East York and City task forces. Now a retired television producer (TVO and CBC), she writes Leaside Life's monthly LPOA column, and has created a daily international current affairs newsletter read from Newfoundland to New Zealand.