Major installation to bring King-Liberty bridge 1 big step closer to completion

A bridge installation that Torontonians have been waiting on for years is finally set for Sunday. The steel structure of the King-Liberty Pedestrian Cycle Bridge will be put in place.

Construction will affect Sunday morning UP Express trains

The King-Liberty bridge will connect Western Battery Road with Douro Street. (City of Toronto)

After years of manoeuvring around construction, Torontonians will see major progress on the construction of the King-Liberty Pedestrian Cycle Bridge over the weekend.

The goal of the bridge is to connect the densely-populated Liberty Village area with King Street West. 

Frank Claritzio, a director with the city's engineering and construction services department, says this weekend's work will see two large steel bridge spans hoisted by cranes over the train tracks and bolted together.

"It's a very technical operation," Claritzio told CBC Toronto. 

From there, the bridge will be finished with a concrete deck, security system and an elevator, he said, with work expected to be complete by spring of 2020. 

Access problem 

"Liberty Village is such a vibrant and thriving area, but it's very hard to get to," Kevin Rupasinghe with Cycle Toronto said.

As of right now, the only ways into the area are via Strachan Avenue, Atlantic Avenue, or through the Exhibition GO station tunnel.

"For folks that live there it's hard to access key transit routes or destinations in the area. This will help immensely in terms of giving people access," Rupasinghe said.

The planned pedestrian cycling bridge will stretch across the Metrolinx train tracks to connect Liberty Village to King Street West. (City of Toronto)

He says residents choose to walk or bicycle when it feels safe, and if there's a direct way to get where they need to go.

"I think this bridge will [provide] an opportunity to choose that mode of transportation more often."

The bridge will stretch above the Metrolinx rail corridor and across Douro Street, south of King Street West, to the western edge of Western Battery Road into the centre of Liberty Village. The project was initially approved by city council in 2011.

Claritizio says that eight-year delay can be chalked up to the long list of tasks the city had to sort out before construction could begin, including working with Metrolinx, utilities providers and various property owners. 

"It's a very dense urban environment and it's a very complex project," he said. 

Construction will affect transit, close streets

Nitish Bissonauth, a spokesperson with Metrolinx, says customers should give themselves extra time to travel in the area on Sunday.

The rail corridor will be shut down with buses replacing the early morning Union-Pearson Express trains.

"We're looking forward to this bridge," he said.

"It's obviously going to connect two very vibrant and exciting neighbourhoods and it'll give better access to the Exhibition GO station as well. 

The first bus replacing the Union-Pearson service will leave Union Station at 5:05 a.m. and Pearson Airport at 5:37 a.m. on Sunday.

Replacement buses will run every 20 minutes until train service resumes at 8:30 a.m. During that time, buses won't stop at Weston or Bloor.

"We want to make sure they're able to get the destinations on time so we will have extra staff to guide customers at both Pearson and Union Station as well."

Road closures on Douro Street and Western Battery Road have also been in place since early September. They will reopen on Monday, Sept. 16.