Commuters and merchants who endured years of disruption along St. Clair Avenue West may soon see construction crews again after it was learned the TTC’s new streetcars don’t line up properly with many platforms along the route.
As many as half the platforms along the dedicated right-of-way are either too high or too low for the new streetcars’ deployable ramps, which make it possible for wheelchair users and passengers pushing strollers to board the vehicles.
"Those platforms as they exist today are too high, or in some cases too low, making the ramp when it deploys too great a grade," said TTC spokesman Brad Ross.
The new streetcars, which are set to begin service on Toronto streets next year, were ordered before all the platforms were finished as part of a massive overhaul of the entire St. Clair Avenue West right-of-way, said TTC CEO Andy Byford.
That overhaul was originally budgeted to cost $48 million but ended up costing more than $100 million. It also took much longer to complete than originally projected, angering residents and businesses in the area.
'Here we go again'
Meanwhile, the new streetcars were ordered in 2009, but the final design of the ramps needed to make the vehicles fully accessible was only finalized last year, said Byford.
"At the time that the new street cars were ordered, we did not know and we could not know the height of the ramps that needed to be deployed," he told reporters on Monday.
He says the retrofit has not taken the TTC "by surprise," and money has been set aside in the commission's capital budget to make the necessary changes on the St. Clair and Roncesvalles lines.
"There is $58 million that has been put aside for these modifications to the islands. And that was what we knew we had to do. And to do the curb cuts, which is what we knew we had to do," Byford said.
But Donovan Wong, who owns a takeout restaurant along St. Clair Avenue West, has bad memories of the right-of-way construction. He wasn't happy to hear that TTC work crews may have to return.
"A lot of customers changed their habits because it was difficult coming here," he told CBC News. "Here we go again."
The CBC's Trevor Dunn reported Monday it’s not known how long it will take to adjust the platform height to match the new streetcars.