Dublin Street closing at rail crossing

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The railway crossing at Dublin Street no longer meets Transport Canada regulations based on updates made to the Railway Safety Act. The City is working with Metrolinx, the owner of the rail line, to close the railway crossing at Dublin Street to make sure that people walking, cycling and driving through the area are safe. In addition to the closure, neighbouring streets will see the following changes:

  • Kent Street will be one-way westbound between Dublin Street and Glasgow Street on the north and south side of the railway tracks
  • Kent Street will be one-way westbound between Northumberland Street and Dublin Street north of the railway tracks
  • Northumberland Street will be one-way southbound south of the pedestrian bridge over Norfolk Street to Kent Street
  • The four stop signs at railway crossing will be removed and replaced with two stop signs on Dublin Street north and south of the closed railway crossing for drivers to stop before turning onto Kent Street

The closure and these changes will happen July 6, 2020.

The closure is required due to federal regulation so there is no opportunity to consult on the closure itself.

City staff held meetings with both the local schools—Central Public School and St. John Bosco Catholic High School—to discuss impacts of the closure and any opportunities to mitigate them. Notices were also delivered to properties bounded by Waterloo Avenue to south, Glasgow Street to the west, Norfolk Street to the east and Paisley Street to the north in March 2020.

A neighbourhood meeting was originally scheduled for Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at city hall to allow residents to ask questions of clarification about the closure and traffic changes. Based on advice from Guelph’s Medical Officer of Health regarding COVID-19, the City cancelled the meeting. In the absence of an in-person meeting, an online forum is available for community members to ask questions or provide comments about the rail crossing closure and related traffic changes.

Have a question or comment about these changes? Read the information report and the Kent Street Traffic Study in the documents tab at the right of the page. Post your question or comment below and we’ll reply as soon as possible.

The railway crossing at Dublin Street no longer meets Transport Canada regulations based on updates made to the Railway Safety Act. The City is working with Metrolinx, the owner of the rail line, to close the railway crossing at Dublin Street to make sure that people walking, cycling and driving through the area are safe. In addition to the closure, neighbouring streets will see the following changes:

  • Kent Street will be one-way westbound between Dublin Street and Glasgow Street on the north and south side of the railway tracks
  • Kent Street will be one-way westbound between Northumberland Street and Dublin Street north of the railway tracks
  • Northumberland Street will be one-way southbound south of the pedestrian bridge over Norfolk Street to Kent Street
  • The four stop signs at railway crossing will be removed and replaced with two stop signs on Dublin Street north and south of the closed railway crossing for drivers to stop before turning onto Kent Street

The closure and these changes will happen July 6, 2020.

The closure is required due to federal regulation so there is no opportunity to consult on the closure itself.

City staff held meetings with both the local schools—Central Public School and St. John Bosco Catholic High School—to discuss impacts of the closure and any opportunities to mitigate them. Notices were also delivered to properties bounded by Waterloo Avenue to south, Glasgow Street to the west, Norfolk Street to the east and Paisley Street to the north in March 2020.

A neighbourhood meeting was originally scheduled for Wednesday, March 25, 2020 at city hall to allow residents to ask questions of clarification about the closure and traffic changes. Based on advice from Guelph’s Medical Officer of Health regarding COVID-19, the City cancelled the meeting. In the absence of an in-person meeting, an online forum is available for community members to ask questions or provide comments about the rail crossing closure and related traffic changes.

Have a question or comment about these changes? Read the information report and the Kent Street Traffic Study in the documents tab at the right of the page. Post your question or comment below and we’ll reply as soon as possible.

Comments

Please provide any comments you may have about the Dublin Street road closure here.

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

I understand that the Dublin Street rail crossing does not meet current standards. This does not explain why you are proposing to change Kent Street to one way and removing the option for pedestrians to cross the tracks at Dublin. Is this a prescribed requirement (i.e., by regulation)? I have not seen an explanation for this anywhere. It seems to me that this is to facilitate an easy through-way for traffic using Dublin as a through street. Frustrated drivers will speed down our narrow little street creating hazard for people and pets. Please do not to make it easier for vehicular traffic to move through our neighbourhood. Your number one concern should be the impact on the neighbourhood and the people who live there. I suggest keeping Kent as a 2-way street, making the intersections at Dublin 3-way stops, and allowing pedestrians to continue to cross over the tracks. Dublin should be clearly marked as "not a through street" or "no access to Waterloo Ave" or "local traffic only" to discourage traffic that is not local to the neighbourhood. I live on north Kent Street (since 1996). We walk down Dublin all the time to go to the park or the market or the stores at Dublin and Wellington - this walk-ability is important to our quality of life and should be preserved if at all possible. While I appreciate the opportunity to comment here and I completely understand why an in-person meeting could not be held, not holding a virtual meeting leaves it up to the citizens to try to imagine why you are proposing the changes you are including what specifically the law requires in this case and what risks you are trying to mitigate by the changes you are proposing - what is the problem you are trying to solve by making Kent 1-way and closing Dublin to pedestrian traffic. Is this problem real or imagined to be a problem? Without being able to talk to you, about this as you invited me to originally, I can ask questions here, make comments and you get to make the decision without me hearing the answers from you and allowing me to respond. Does not feel right to me. I don't think you could possible know better than I do what goes on in my neighbourhood. We are a neighbourhood of thoughtful people. Notification is not consultation. Jane

Jane Birnie 11 days ago

I have looked at the situation at the rail crossing on Dublin and understand the need to close this crossing to car and truck traffic. I don't understand why it is not possible to arrange a safe crossing for pedestrians and, possibly, bicycles. Was any thought given to pedestrians? Many parents and children use that crossing to walk to and from Central Public School.

zhora63 12 days ago

Thank you June for responding.It seems to me that Metrolinx scheduling requirements will over-ride the safety and quality of life in this historic section of town. It's only a kilometer or two of sensitive area. How much time will be saved by running through at high speed? Surely trains have to stop anyway at the station! I have complained to the rail safety commission and Metrolinx in the past regarding the speed of the trainsin our area before. I feared for my safety at times as both passenger and particularly freight trains exceeded the regulated speed in this area. Houses are a mere 15 ft. from the tracks. Now it seems they will be disrupting the flow of traffic and the peaceful quality of this historic people friendly downtown area in order to accommodate their desired schedule.This is very disturbing. I'm sure once people realize the full impact of this change there will be disruptive protests. I will follow through and contact the 500+ that signed the petition in this regard. This is an unnecessary and unthinkableloss to the residents of this quiet neighbourhood. How will this affect our real-estate values?Thank you for helping me see the full picture.Please forward this email to all concerned, including Metrolinx. It would be greatly appreciatedSincerelyTony Darmon

Tony Darmon 17 days ago

Closing Dublin permanently to pedestrians and bicycles would be a mistake. Dublin Street North is an important active transportation corridor in Guelph. It provides a safe alternative to Norfolk Street, which is loud, busy, steep, and used by large trucks. Norfolk Street, which once has a (dangerous) bike lane, lost that lane to construction a year ago and it has never been replaced. Dublin is an important local road connecting residents to the shops and services located at the commercial plazas at Wellington and Gordon, the Basilica of Our Lady, and Central Public School. It is an historic street, present on maps of Guelph as long ago as 1855 (https://wcma.pastperfectonline.com/media/C9D4F8F8-320F-4F28-BBB7-092665202472) I walk over the railway on Dublin Street several times every week. With the COVID-19 health emergency, pedestrians are being encouraged to use side streets and disperse as much as possible; a permanent closure will channel pedestrians into fewer, less walkable streets, and runs contrary to that public health advice. It will lead to frustrating detours of over 400 m, a walk of 5 minutes for pedestrians in good health, and longer for people with mobility challenges, injuries, children, etc. The neighbourhood to the west of downtown Guelph embodies excellent principles of urban design, with a compact grid of interconnecting streets and walkable neighbourhoods. A permanent closure of Dublin to pedestrians and cyclists would damage this grid. The stated reason by the province (to increase train speeds) does not make any sense at present, and only becomes sensible if other streets (e.g. Glasgow, Yorkshire, Edinburgh, Alma) were also also to be closed - a set of decisions which would cause irreparable harm to the neighbourhoods on both sides of the rail line and great inconvenience to residents.I am not concerned with the closure of Dublin to vehicles. I do not however accept the province's representation that the crossing cannot be made safe for cyclists and pedestrians. I ask that the city push back against this and work with Metrolinx to keep the crossing open to active transportation users. A grade-separated crossing such as a tunnel would be wildly expensive and not necessary - the road is being closed almost entirely due to a risk of dangerous interactions between cars and trains. The intersection can be preserved with minor changes. Any changes to the directionality of Kent/Northumberland should exempt cyclists, as this is a highly local road. While there may be difficulty with two cars passing each other or turning around on the street, these concerns do not apply to cyclists.

Luke Weiler 18 days ago

GCAT (Guelph Coalition for Active Transportation )fully supports waking and biking and increasing infrastructure including connections that are safe enjoyable and as direct as possible to encourages (AT )Active Transportation. Closing this well used connection will discourage AT. AT is doubly important during a pandemic and increasing not decreasing opportunity for AT should be priority. Everyone also recognizes the importance of All Day Go service and the greater good-but can we not have both local and regional excellence?On behalf of GCAT I submitted the following questions and Metrolinx answers follow. Q: pedestrians should not be denied access if it is possible?A: For a pedestrian crossing at track level to be provided advanced warning infrastructure (lights, bells, pedestrian arms) would be required. To increase the speeds and deliver the promised service levels infrastructure within such close proximity to the west end of Guelph station cannot exist. For clarification would it be accurate to conclude; 1 -Yes it is possible to incorporate a safe pedestrian crossing with the required advanced warning infrastructure installed.However this infrastructure cannot exist because the delivery of Metrolinx promised service levels would require increased train speeds and this pedestrian infrastructure located within close proximity to the West end of the Guelph station would make this impossible ? Yes. Given the proximity to Guelph Central Station, this crossing would require more than advanced warning, it would require a full grade separation (bridge, tunnel, etc…), which could have implications for surrounding properties. 2-Can you explain how the proposed pedestrian infrastructure would prevent the increased speeds needed for promised service levels? The presence of pedestrian crossing infrastructure would require the train to slow, as per regulations. The location of this crossing means there would not be enough time for the train to speed up again before it needs to slow to enter the station. 3- Can you provide the projected improvement in service level by the complete closure in minutes of time? Since taking over ownership of the Guelph subdivision (section of track between Kitchener and Georgetown) Metrolinx has been replacing, repairing and improving infrastructure all the way along the corridor. This essential safety work, which includes the closure of the Dublin Street crossing to meet Transport Canada safety requirements, will allow us to remove slow orders through Guelph and increase to designated speeds for the area. Once all of the required work is complete, we expect to decrease current travel times on the corridor by approximately 10 minutes, a critical step towards improving service on the entire Kitchener corridor.FURTHER QUESTIONS FOR THE CITY OF GUELPHCan the City ask further clarification from Metrolinx why a pedestrian crossing is not possible?ie for example does the current regulation have a speed threshold beyond which grade level pedestrian crossing cannot exist?please specify. 2 Who is responsible for the installation and expense of “full grade separation”ie a pedestrian tunnel or bridge. 3 Has the city fully investigated the possibilities of either a grade level pedestrian crossing or a full grade separation tunnel?4 Can the City Confirm from Metrolinx if they are planning on further rail/road intersection closings West of Dublin st for example Glasgow st or more ?4 If no further closings are planned is Metrolinx justification for increased speeds necessary considering the tiny increase in efficiency for such a short distance requiring acceleration and then braking before Central Station?The City report states that discussion with Metrolinx started last August but the public was informed until around March 2020 of the Closure. Why didn’t the City have public engagement much earlier in the process?Thanks

Mike Darmon 20 days ago

On the issue of closing the intersection to all forms of travel: The decision to close the Dublin crossing to all forms of travel is inconvenient, to say the least, for the neighbourhood and for pedestrian travellers (walking/cycling/mobility-assisted) through the area. Finding a solution to maintain pedestrian travel through the intersection, especially one that is AODA compliant, will be costly. At this juncture, I think our money is better spent upgrading separated cycling infrastructure and / or the accessibility of sidewalks in other parts of our City. But the lack of engagement around the decision was troubling It is my understanding that a number of crossings along the line are set for re-evaluation and possible closure. This is what concerns me most. The decision at each individual intersection leads to a major transformation of our streetscape and the connectivity of our City. The public must be made aware of exactly which intersections are being considered for the kinds of significant change we are experiencing at Dublin. The public needs input into the strategy guiding those decisions, and we should have the ability to comment on the strategy guiding those decisions. E.g. - we have an ongoing transportation master plan process, and I'm not aware of conversations within that process of what we do as / if more rail crossings are closed. On one-way traffic along Kent:The logic for this is not clear to me. I'm also wondering how garbage collection will take place on the south side of the tracks - unless garbage trucks are granted two-way access, residents on the southside will need to put their containers on the other side of the street. I can live with this minor inconvenience. But the major concern is the winter time, when snow is also piled heavily on that side of the street.

KirbyC 22 days ago

As a full time pedestrian and downtown condo owner, I want the City to kerp open crossing for pedestrians, mobilty carts, and bicyclists. Dublin north from Waterloo is number onealternative for those ofus who find Norfolk hill too hot/busy/too many exhaust fumes and roaring vehicles, Cork Street hill is too steep for me, most days.Closing this crossing will negatively affectmany downtown residents.

SueC 22 days ago

Dear City Staff - I can understand why we need to close the road at Dublin to be in compliance with the Railway Safety Act, but are the changes to traffic direction also mandated by the Act? If not, please remove them from the plan. Public consultation has not fed into this change and neighbourhood residents do not support the change. Please also consider whether there is a solution to continue pedestrian access over the railway crossing as this is the route taken by many students walking to Central school.

kathrynfolkl 22 days ago

When I heard this was happening I initially thought it was a joke. Now that I know that it isn't I'm wondering what thinking went into making this decision. I've lived in this neighbourhood for over 45 years -- not ONE incident at this railway crossing. And then, to add to the absurdity, the decision to make Kent St. one way. The topping on the cake? No public consultation. Increased train speeds is irrelevant if you have proper crossing safety features. I would argue those are already present. I strongly oppose this "planning" decision.

Ella 24 days ago

Dear City Staff,I am a resident of Kent Street and use the Dublin/Kent crossing regularly by vehicle, foot and bike. I am bothered the City is moving ahead with these changes without adequate public consultation which was planned before the pandemic. My concerns are as follows:1. If the crossing must close to vehicles the City should seek to keep a pedestrian crossing. This location is used by hundreds of people each day and has been functional with no safety issues for decades. I don't accept the argument that increasing train speeds pose a risk at this location, because there is another pedestrian crossing at Glasgow St. that will limit train speeds and has exactly the same risks. For pedestrians the Glasgow street crossing will increase walking time by 5 minutes, and longer for people with wheelchairs. I ask that the City make a meaningful effort to consider how a pedestrian crossing could be maintained at this location.2. The proposed Kent Street direction change doesn't make sense. What is the reason for this proposal? What is the problem you are trying to solve? These streets function perfectly well as two-way streets and there are no traffic issues occurring. This direction change will have several unintended consequences: a) vehicle speed will increase in a one-way scenario posing risks to children and cyclistsb) bicycles going downtown will be forced to ride up the steep Northumberland Street hill which is not ideal for biking.c) Northumberland and Kent Streets are poorly maintained in the winter with frequent berms of snow and ice that is not cleared for weeks. The one-way route will require all Kent Street residents to drive this route instead of the flat Kent Street route. This does not make sense.3. The consultation process has been inadequate. We were told in March that a public meeting would be held but this was understandably cancelled due to the pandemic. Now in mid-June we have received a letter that the changes are occurring in three weeks. How are we to give meaningful consultation if the decision has already been made? Just today (June 16) signs have been posted that the traffic direction change is happening and this is a done deal. We need a meaningful public consultation to give input on the proposals (ideally a virtual public meeting) before final decisions are made.Thank you for reading my concerns and I look forward to a wider public consultation.Ian Digby

Ian Digby 25 days ago