Crews have begun major construction on Adelaide Street to replace a watermain that's more than a century old, create a separated bicycling lane, improve pedestrian safety at intersections, fix the road and reinstall TTC streetcar tracks.
The estimated $14-million project, which involves the TTC, Metrolinx, Toronto Water and the city's transportation services, stretches along Adelaide from Bathurst to Parliament streets. Crews are reinstalling streetcar tracks ahead of construction on the Ontario Line, the new rapid transit route slated to cut through the downtown from the Ontario Science Centre to Ontario Place.
According to the city, the project combines several construction projects on the street into one with the aim of reducing disruption.
"This is one of the biggest projects that we have underway in the downtown core. This is really important work," said Michael D'Andrea, chief engineer for the city, on Friday.
D'Andrea said heavy construction is expected to be completed by the end of the year, if the weather co-operates, with the work to be finished in the new year. The work is being done by a contractor in phases, he said.
"What we've done is we've bundled together a number of infrastructure upgrades into a single contract, and really when it's all said and done, it's to reduce overall impacts both in terms of the residents, the businesses and traffic."
To speed construction, he said there are two crews working at the same time and the city has provided for extended hours of construction and weekend work.
"York Street to to Victoria Street, we're replacing a vintage watermain, a section of which is 149 years old. You can imagine the disruption that would occur to the downtown businesses that watermain were to burst," he said.
D'Andrea said "good progress" is being made but drivers might want to avoid the area for the time being as the construction zone has the street reduced to a single lane.
"Know that it's going to take you extra time. Avail yourself of the many travel apps that exist. Use public transit where possible and and pack your patience, please," he said.
"And particularly, when you're in and around the construction zones, obey the traffic side signage. not only for your own safety, but for the safety of our workers."
Work has been 'bundled' into the project, city says
In addition to reinstalling the streetcar tracks and the water main replacement, the city said in a news release on Oct. 20 that the work "bundled" into the project includes:
Replacing the city-owned portion of substandard water services from York Street to Victoria Street.
Renewing the roadway on Adelaide Street from Spadina Avenue to York Street..
Relocating the cycle track on Adelaide Street from Bathurst Street to Parliament Street to the north side of the street to improve safety.
Upgrading pedestrian infrastructure at various spots along Adelaide Street from Spadina Avenue to York Street to improve safety.
Depending on progress, the city said in the release that lanes may reopen during winter months and close again for finishing touches when weather gets warmer.
Local businesses in the area will be open as usual and pedestrian access to businesses around the site will be maintained, the city added.
In a news release on Friday, the city said, starting on Monday, Adelaide Street from Widmer Street to Simcoe Street will be reduced to one shared lane and there will be partial intersection closures at Widmer Street, John Street and Duncan Street.
Several roads to be closed this weekend
As for this weekend, the city said there are a number of road closures due to events and construction. A complete list is available here.
For example, on Yonge Street, traffic lanes, bike lanes and sidewalks will be closed from Lake Shore Boulevard to Front Street until 11 p.m. on Sunday, October 30 to allow crews to demolish partly the Metrolinx bridge over Yonge Street.
Access to Yonge Street from the westbound Gardiner off-ramp will be closed.
Northbound and southbound traffic will be redirected at Lake Shore Boulevard and Front Street, respectively.
The city said "local access" will be maintained on the west side of Yonge Street, between Lake Shore Boulevard and the south end of the Metrolinx bridge.
The Yonge Street closure will happen over six consecutive weekends. starting this weekend, to allow for the bridge demolition.