The abandonment of a proposal by Metrolinx to close Bathurst Street, north of Eglinton Avenue West for seven months has failed to alleviate all the concerns of a frustrated community, as evidenced at a town hall meeting that the provincial transit agency held on Jan. 16. Metrolinx had been seeking approval for the road closure in order to speed up construction of the Forest Hill station by three months.
“The question was always to the residents: is taking three months off the time building the station and doing the construction at Bathurst and Eglinton worth a seven-month closure?” said Josh Matlow, councillor for Toronto–St Paul’s. “What residents said very clearly, not only to us but anybody who would listen, is it’s not worth it to them.”
Metrolinx announced that it had withdrawn the application to close down the intersection hours before the town hall. At the meeting, Bill Henry, president of Crosslinx, the company building the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, admitted it could have done a better job informing the community and Toronto City Council about its plans.
However, apologies failed to completely satisfy the crowd, who took the opportunity to offer a range of criticism on the failure of police to enforce traffic laws in construction zones, increased traffic on side streets and the fact that the road closure option was even considered in the first place.
Denyse Silverman lives on Glen Cedar Road, which runs one way going north to Eglinton. The street has seen a drastic increase in traffic as drivers try to avoid the construction in the area, which Silverman said has traffic backed up on the street for blocks at times. Her biggest concern is the inability for emergency vehicles to access the houses on her street in the case of emergency.
“None of you live on that street! It’s not going to be your kids,” said Silverman to the representatives.
Jamie Robinson, officer of communications and public affairs at Metrolinx, is sympathetic to residents’ concerns.
“It’s a balance that we’re trying to strike so we can get the project done and get out of people’s way as soon as possible,” he said.
The new plan will see four full weekend intersection closures over this year and shifting the open traffic lanes on Bathurst from one side of the street to the other, with a goal of having disruption from the project drastically reduced by the end of 2019.