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Davenport GO train bridge stirs opposition from residents

Residents in Toronto's Davenport neighourhood aren't happy about Metrolinx plans to build an overpass to carry GO trains over the Canadian Pacific rail line near Dupont Street and Lansdowne Avenues

Metrolinx says the bridge is needed to expand transit, residents worry about increased noise

Some residents of Toronto's Davenport neighbourhood are concerned about plans by Metrolinx to build an overpass to carry GO Transit trains over the CP rail corridor near Dupont Street and Lansdowne Avenue. (Metrolinx)

To the province, a proposed rail overpass just north of Dupont Street is an essential piece of infrastructure, key to expanding GO train service along the busy Barrie line. But for many residents of the Davenport neighourhood, the overpass they're calling a "Gardiner for GO trains" is a bridge too far. 

Metrolinx — which manages regional transit for Toronto and Hamilton — will host a public meeting Monday evening to gather public feedback about its plans to build the overpass, which will allow GO trains along the north-sound Barrie line to pass over the Canadian Pacific freight corridor.

The bridge would eliminate the existing Davenport Diamond, where the two rail lines meet at grade level and create, according to Metrolinx, a choke point for train traffic. 

Metrolinx is moving ahead with plans to build the bridge despite opposition from some residents who would rather see a tunnel built to separate the rail lines. 

"We have a lot of concerns about it, it's going to be elevated three storeys high," said Davenport resident Sam Barbieri Wednesday on CBC Radio's Metro Morning. Barbieri is with the group Options for Davenport, which is opposed to the overpass plan. 

"It's going to be really loud, really noisy, so we have concerns about noise and vibration," he said.

Barbieri said residents are also worried about the increase in GO train traffic once the bridge is built. Instead of 14 trains a day, traffic will expand to 180 daily trips.

"That's roughly [a train] every seven and a half minutes," said Barbieri. "It's a relatively quiet neighbourhood. Lots of families ... now it's going to become a superhighway for trains."

Metrolinx President CEO Bruce McCuaig also appeared on Metro Morning to speak about the issue. He said the tunnel option would cost much more and cause more disruption for the neighourhood. 

"We need to expand transit and unfortunately that means in some cases that we need to build infrastructure in communities," he said. 

McCuaig said Metrolinx has scaled back its plans, arriving at a revised design that trims the length of the proposed overpass by about half. 

He said a tunnel would leave a much longer footprint. 

"We'd need long trenches to bring trains into the tunnel and back out," he said. "Two kilometres of trenches."

Information about the project posted online by Metrolinx says the bridge will take two years to build, while a tunnel would take five. 

Toronto city council — which has no say in what eventually gets built — voted against the overpass plan with some councillors chiding Metrolinx for not consulting enough with the neighbourhood.  

Barbieri denied the neighourhood's opposition to the overpass amounts to NIMBYism (not in my back yard). He said he accepts the need for expanded transit, but wants to ensure Metrolinx is looking at the best option. He said the tunnel option might be more disruptive during construction but would in the end reduce its impact on the neighourhood, where signs against the project are a common sight.  

​"I think there's a difference between people complaining for the sake of change ... we're just asking for better options for our community so that everybody wins," he said. 

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