Rail crossing study

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The Study

We've initiated a transportation study to explore the transportation impacts on five road-level railway crossings along the Metrolinx corridor. This work supports planned Metrolinx service expansion along the Kitchener GO rail line through Guelph including all-day two-way GO service. While Metrolinx is indicating they do not plan on closing any more crossings, we continued with our study because we want to preserve connectivity and ensure it aligns with our transportation goals now and into the future.

This is a City of Guelph-led project, and the results will be shared with Metrolinx when the study is complete.

The rail crossings we’re looking at are:

  • Alma Street between Crimea and Inkerman streets
  • Edinburgh Road between Foster Avenue and Preston/Inkerman streets
  • Yorkshire Street between Foster Avenue and Preston Street
  • Glasgow Street at Kent Street
  • Watson Road just north of York Road

The study will also look at and assess options for active transportation (e.g. footbridge) connection across the rail line at Cityview Drive. As a result of the engagement, we have added the assessment of options for active transportation at Margaret Green park and Dublin Street.

To find the best solution for each crossing we’ll look at the unique context of each one and our city’s overall transportation network. For example, we’ll need to consider how closing one rail crossing would affect traffic flow at another and in the local area. Some options may not be possible to implement for every crossing.

What is the process moving forward?

  • The current open house comment period ends June 29.
  • The next step is to commence an EA in 2023. Through a Schedule C Municipal Class EA, we will continue refining and exploring options in close consultation with the community. Options include do nothing and various design alternatives for grade separating. A recommendation will be brought forth to City Council in 2024 or 2025 for decision.
  • It is possible the do nothing option is selected with no property impacts.

The Study

We've initiated a transportation study to explore the transportation impacts on five road-level railway crossings along the Metrolinx corridor. This work supports planned Metrolinx service expansion along the Kitchener GO rail line through Guelph including all-day two-way GO service. While Metrolinx is indicating they do not plan on closing any more crossings, we continued with our study because we want to preserve connectivity and ensure it aligns with our transportation goals now and into the future.

This is a City of Guelph-led project, and the results will be shared with Metrolinx when the study is complete.

The rail crossings we’re looking at are:

  • Alma Street between Crimea and Inkerman streets
  • Edinburgh Road between Foster Avenue and Preston/Inkerman streets
  • Yorkshire Street between Foster Avenue and Preston Street
  • Glasgow Street at Kent Street
  • Watson Road just north of York Road

The study will also look at and assess options for active transportation (e.g. footbridge) connection across the rail line at Cityview Drive. As a result of the engagement, we have added the assessment of options for active transportation at Margaret Green park and Dublin Street.

To find the best solution for each crossing we’ll look at the unique context of each one and our city’s overall transportation network. For example, we’ll need to consider how closing one rail crossing would affect traffic flow at another and in the local area. Some options may not be possible to implement for every crossing.

What is the process moving forward?

  • The current open house comment period ends June 29.
  • The next step is to commence an EA in 2023. Through a Schedule C Municipal Class EA, we will continue refining and exploring options in close consultation with the community. Options include do nothing and various design alternatives for grade separating. A recommendation will be brought forth to City Council in 2024 or 2025 for decision.
  • It is possible the do nothing option is selected with no property impacts.

Comments

Do you have a comment for us about the Rail Crossing Study or any of the crossings in the study? Tell us here. 

CLOSED: This discussion has concluded.

I think that the idea of Edinburgh being sunken into a roadway underpass below the railway track is a monstrous idea and should be dismissed.

The City should be coming up with solutions to knit back together the community which is bisected by Edinburgh Road. It is too busy, there are too many trucks and too much through-traffic on it, and there are not enough safe crossings for pedestrians. Staff should be trying to find ways to slow traffic, reduce traffic, and divert traffic away from Edinburgh entirely.

An underpass is a bad piece of 1960s thinking. It is an ugly idea, a bad plan that will only serve the interests of a single community, namely drivers from other parts of the city cutting through the neighbourhood. Not only will it not be of benefit to locals, it will harm them. It will increase traffic volumes, increase noise, and rip up the community. It will require the expropriation and destruction of homes, including fine heritage buildings and family homes in the neighbourhood. It will lead to streets being stopped up, reducing interconnectivity for cyclists and pedestrians. It will turn Edinburgh into an insurmountable obstacle for both local residents and wildlife for whole blocks.

Simply put, this is a terrible plan. We deserve much better than this. The city should stop treating Edinburgh like a north-south arterial (it was never meant to be one) and direct traffic away to the Hanlon Expressway and the Silvercreek extension.

The worst part of the entire downtown is the miserable Norfolk subway - two stories of grey cement retaining wall, filled with jarring loud cars and pigeon excrement. No one ever wants to go there, and people who have to leave as fast as they can. The very thought of building another one of these wounds should be shameful.

Luke Weiler about 2 months ago

Regarding the competitive process of awarding an Environmental Assessment (EA) to a consultant, would you agree that because Parsons was already involved in conducting the Feasibility Study, Parsons should be excluded from being awarded the Environmental Assessment due to a direct conflict of interest and at a minimum the appearance of a conflict of interest since Parsons cannot be seen as an impartial and objective partner for conducting the EA?

Thomas about 2 months ago

In Last Night’s Council Meeting, City staff, when asked what warrants an Environmental Assessment for an underpass at Edinburgh, said that safety is the main reason, yet City staff fell short of defining exactly what those safety concerns genuinely are.

Unfortunately, safety is a very broad term. For instance, one could say it is unsafe to walk or drive to work because one could get into an accident and possibly die, yet people leave their houses and go to work every day despite this “safety concern”.

What I try to get at is how is “safety” defined by City staff in the context of a warrant that triggers an EA for studying an underpass option at Edinburgh Rd?
Can you please explain less prescriptive and more descriptive?
In addition:
1. Can you please provide the detailed sections of the ‘Grade Crossings Regulations’ SOR/2014-275 from the federal ‘Railway Crossing Act’, that applies to EXISTING GRADE CROSSINGS for PUBLIC CROSSINGS including Part B of the Grade Crossings Standards, or any other regulation for that matter, for issues, which you have identified as concerning under the broad term 'safety' that warrant in your opinion an underpass at Edinburgh Rd.?
2. Can you please explain the data (e.g. when and where were they collected, how do they relate to the issues you try to address with your feasibility study) and please explain ALL assumptions that supported your feasibility study and how they resulted in and concluded with the identified issues under point 1 above, that warrant an underpass at Edinburgh Rd.?

The reason why I am asking you these questions is that the public has a right to understand how you define in more detail “safety concerns”, what those mean and how they result in an underpass conclusion at Edinburgh Rd in your rail-crossing-study.

In last night's City Council Meeting, it seemed that when city staff waved the 'underpass flag' in the name of safety, the community's concerns were not addressed and the concerns of members of the public who were trying to come up with solutions for individual issues under your safety banner, were ignored. Instead, one got the impression that the City’s engineers seemed to prefer to leave the EA work to the “Professionals” who know what they are doing.

Unfortunately, given the process of how the feasibility study with its virtual open house has been handled thus far, as well as other past events along the rail line, the public has lost faith and confidence in the very same “Professionals” and their judgement.

To gain back trust and confidence on both sides, in my opinion, it would help, in the case of the Edinburgh underpass, if City staff and the public would be able to discuss the detailed issues under the broad umbrella of safety using a more close-up lens to better understand where each party is coming from and where we are heading based on where we are now.
That way, we might end up speaking the same language again and we will be able to discuss and address individual issues that were identified in the feasibility study and how those issues can be mitigated and handled through possible engineering solutions that might not require an underpass at a projected cost of $48.5M and the savings can be used for other capital projects.
I would appreciate it if you can answer my above questions.
Thank you!

Thomas about 2 months ago

Please share and consider engineering solutions!
Here are some examples of European-style, state-of-the-art level railway crossings as well as a link to an article about bikes paths meeting level crossing in the Netherlands

Examples of Gates that prevent pedestrians and cars to enter the track when closed:
https://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-1017992662-train-level-crossing-barrier
https://www.shutterstock.com/video/clip-1054201319-selected-focus-view-red-white-level-crossing

A movie that explains how a level-crossing in Germany with full and safe gates for both lines of traffic as well as for pedestrians works. (English subtitles are available) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rHgVU5ltjfQ
[For Subtitles: Turn on ‘closed captions’ (CC) on youtube, you can then choose under “Settings, Subtitles/CC” ‘Auto-Translate’ and choose ‘English’; the translation is not perfect but good enough]

Example of what could be done at Dublin Street to open for pedestrians & bicyclists:
A level crossing with barriers for bicycles and pedestrians, Bonn, 17 06 2020 (Germany):
https://www.imago-images.de/st/0101711490
A level crossing with barrier and traffic lights for pedestrians and cyclists Railway tracks, railway tracks:
https://www.imago-images.de/st/0102765433

Article of an Australian who observed bike paths and railway in the Netherlands
When bike paths meet a railway level crossing
https://www.eurogunzel.com/2016/11/bike-path-railway-level-crossings/

Thomas about 2 months ago

I live right by the tracks and fully support all day GO. I do not support using Edinburgh as a high speed north-south route for cars - we already have the Hanlon, plus all of the expropriation that already happened for the Silvercreek extension. Facilitating fast cars on Edinburgh is regressive - as it stands there is an 800m stretch of Edinburgh (between Paisley and Waterloo) that has no pedestrian crossing and is very dangerous for pedestrians to cross (I've been doing it several times a day for a decade). Those who currently run the gauntlet to cross Edinburgh close to the railway include families using the hugely popular Sunny Acres Park (which is a truly 365 day/year park), parents and caregivers trying to get to the large daycare facility on Crimea St, to say nothing of the foot traffic from the neighbourhood that crosses Edinburgh to get to the businesses in the Junction..
Traffic on Edinburgh needs to be slowed way way down- why on earth would we want to speed it up! And speed it up at the cost of pedestrian and cyclist safety, community access, housing? And this is before we even get to the huge cost to municipal taxpayers for saving drivers a few seconds. Really not a good look in an election year.

M H about 2 months ago

Folks this underpass has been on the books and planned for 30 years. The Guelph Community Pottery Centre is owned by the City as it was required for the planned underpass and expropriated for when this was planned aroung 1990 when GO first came to Guelph.

Times and regulations have changed but the whole point of the pottery place is to avoid future expropriations...

It merely has been delayed 30 years.

Steve about 2 months ago

As per Guelph Today:

“ But Juste added they're taking the concerns presented back to the consulting team ‘and consider a different way to represent the technical study on the grade separation that's not as explicit to people's properties themselves.’

Juste said in the end, the final report would supersede the current draft report, and hopes buyers and sellers use the most recent documentation available when researching a property.”

Are you kidding me? All of these properties have essentially been flagged at risk, and you’re now asking the public to ignore the “draft” plans when researching a property. It’s too late! I’m curious how the city plans to compensate these families for destroying their property value.

We’re now told property owners have to wait years to find out whether their properties will in fact be impacted. How are they expected to make any decisions in terms of planned upgrades to their homes (ie. major renovations)?The way the city is brushing this off as “just a draft” is insulting.

The communication plan of this project, and dissemination of information has been severely mismanaged given the magnitude of impact this could have on property owners.

Larry52 about 2 months ago

It does not have to be one or the other ...

The City of Guelph has a long history of living alongside the railway, since 1856 according to the Guelph Historical Railway Association. The City has since embraced the railway and grew around and with it. As a result, this neighbourhood is called ‘The junction’ for a reason and for generations people have managed to coexist with the railway. Why not keep it that way?

I do agree that two-way all-day service on the Metrolinx corridor is long overdue and will be welcomed, but it does not have to come at the expense of fundamentally changing the naturally grown neighbourhoods around the tracks by cutting through them and inserting an underpass or by completely blocking off level crossings. There are well-established, European engineering solutions for safe rail barriers and gates which put safety first, come at a fraction of the cost of an underpass, and allow pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorists alike to cross the tracks safely as they have done for over a century in Guelph.
Therefore, I would recommend the city consider turning its Rail Crossing Study into an opportunity if such European grade-level crossing solutions are not yet well established in Canada. Based on its Rail Crossing Study, the City of Guelph could become a Pilot Project and model case to install state-of-the-art barriers and gates for level crossings and demonstrate how a vibrant community can continue to coexist with modern rapid transit solutions. Such an approach can also include reopening the Dublin St. level crossing for pedestrians and cyclists.

Thomas about 2 months ago

I support the evaluation process, and the finding to do nothing, along with a long-term Edinburgh underpass. I would need to understand more of the impacts of the Edinburgh underpass, and the disruption that would be caused by construction, to be able to comment further. However, a good traffic flow on Edinburgh and 2-way all day GO, and (to a lesser extent) high-speed rail, should be considered extremely high priorities for the City of Guelph.

This process feels like it is being strongly driven by Metrolinx, and options A5 and A6 will be the natural "compromise" between the City of Guelph and Metrolinx. With Dublin closed, all traffic would be further increased on small side streets (i.e. Northumberland, Preston, etc.) that aren't meant for these increased flows. This could cause safety concerns for pedestrians, cyclists, children playing in the streets, and motorists. I'd encourage exploring all other options (i.e. more significant rail barriers and other safety measures) before we "split the difference" and agreed to eliminate more rail crossings and further divide a neighborhood.

Smccaw22 about 2 months ago

Restricting pedestrian and bicycle access at these points or forcing them onto overpasses will further malign active and non-automobile transportation methods - especially with the river-park corridor to the south of the area, thus cutting off northern areas from easy access. Traveling to edinburgh or norfolk/gordon to access the parks is up to an additional 1km or more of travel, which can be onerous for the less mobile. It also forces cyclists onto major routes, which, despite bike lanes, are not as safe.

KenChase about 2 months ago

I’m very pro all day GO but the proposed underpass on Edinburgh seems like an unnecessary piece to that project. A huge waste of taxpayer dollars (keeping in mind the delays will be much greater at Paisley anyway) and involves demolishing several century homes, decreasing the beauty of our community, displacing people, etc. Not to mention, Edinburgh is a two lane road with more traffic than it can currently handle. Wouldn’t it be better to discourage cars on Edinburgh and encourage them on the Hanlon which is better equipped for volume?

Josh Greenlaw 2 months ago

If Metrolinx's goal is to remove all level crossings in Guelph, some grade separation scenarios cannot co-exist. For example, if there is an underpass at Edinburgh there cannot be an overpass at Alma because it would dead-end Crimea at both ends. The same is true for Northumberland and Preston. Is it true that some of the scenarios cannot co-exist?

If the answer is “yes,” it increases the likelihood of the crossings on Alma, Glasgow and Yorkshire being closed. Allowing an Edinburgh underpass will make other options impossible and therefore closures inevitable at Alma, Glasgow and Yorkshire. Do we want more Dublin streets?

Thomas 2 months ago

My house is within the affected on Edinburgh across from sunny acres. We own a heritage house and it is now in jeopardy if this plan moves forward.
There is on going studies being down towards this plan, timelines indicate years for completion. My house value is now affected, we are in the midst of Renovations which are now in question and the whole plan is affecting the value of homes in this area, as well as any potential for people to sell in this market.!!!
It’s absolutely unreasonable to think this plan in study that is now public information…(before some home owners.) and the area is now not desirable for resale.
We love our home. And it is where our life savings have gone to. Our life is there our childrens life’s friends and and schools. We spent more money on property in the downtown core to ensure development issues wouldn’t be a problem also. And this plan seems absolutely the least feasible option out of many
Another issue is the amount of traffic on Edinburgh when the hanlon was supposed to be the express route. The amount of lights there should be assessed and the traffic would be redirected.

Av snowden 2 months ago

In one of your answers in the Question section you are saying " The exact nature and extent of property impacts is not known at this time. The 'orange highlighted properties" represent one very conceptual design sketch for an underpass simply as a way to estimate comparative impacts between an underpass, an overpass, and keeping it at-grade. No design decisions have been made at this stage, so there is no confirmed property imapct."
How comes that the City of Guelph's Transportation Planning department publishes in your words "... a conceptual design sketch..." at this stage of the feasibility study when the feasibility study itself has not even been completed and you are further claiming that "... there is no confirmed property impact"?

Don't you agree that by publishing a Plan for the Edinburgh underpass which outlines potentially impacted properties, the market value of those orange-marked properties diminished over Night as a result of your publication of the Plan for the underpass, regardless of what you claim the plan means?

Why did you not publish a generic example of an underpass map from a location where an underpass had been built before in which case you could have provided a Plan from before and after, perhaps with pictures?

Thomas 2 months ago

According to Parsons own website on 4Transit Joint Venture, "... Metrolinx has entrusted Parsons and the entire 4TRANSIT team to help bring this important project to fruition, drawing on our extensive rail transit experience in Canada and across the world.” Which makes it obvious that Parsons is closely involved with Metrolinx.
As per the City of Guelph's procurement By-law Number (2018) - 20259
“Principle f. No Conflict of Interest:
(2.3.f.l.) The City shall include conflict of interest guidelines in all Competitive Bidding documents to minimize the risk of Bidders trying to influence officers, employees or members of Council of the City during the bid evaluation process.”
For your Rail-crossing-study audience, can the City please explain how the city ruled on and followed its Principle of – No Conflict of Interest when it came to awarding Parsons with the contract for the Rail Crossing Study, knowing that Parsons has along standing relationship with Metrolinx and any study conducted by Parsons for the City will have the appearance of potential bias and influence from Metrolinx?
What exact measures did the City take to alleviate any conflict of interest concerns before awarding its contract to Parsons?

References:
https://www.parsons.com/2017/08/4transit-joint-venture-wins-cad-300-million-metrolinx-contract-regional-express-rail-program/
https://guelph.ca/wp-content/uploads/Purchasing-Bylaw.pdf

Thomas 2 months ago

This is fundamentally the question the staff of the city and citizens of Guelph need to ask themselves: What type of community to we want to be? The type that promotes active transportation, preserves green space, respects the sanctity of people’s homes, and works to provide sensible alternative transportation routes to those running through residential communities? Or the type that is beholden to motorists, uprooting families and beloved community spaces for the sake of shaving 90 seconds off of a trip across town? This proposal is infuriating, and not remotely what I've come to hope Guelph represents as a city.

astraathof 2 months ago

I am supportive of ways to move our city toward a less car reliant existence - and thus I support plans to allow active transport, as is detailed in a number of rail.crossing plans. However, the Edinburgh plan to ease train issues for the tracks that cause a very small minority of this issues seem shortsighted. While an underpass would stop (small) delays at the Metro-link tracks, the shunting of trains as Paisley and Edingburgh is clearly a bigger contributor to delays and would simply leads to parked traffic under a fancy and expensive new bridge. I have never understood why trains are shunted so cliae to an intersection and in the dorection that causes the largest road(s) to be blocked. Of course there are historical reasons the yard exists where it is - but the tracks were purchased and revitalized in the past few years. Why were these switches not changed to shunt out toward Murphy's park/across Alma where there is little disruption? Also, while shuntimg delays are commonly caused by unmovimg trains and apathetic operators who simply allow the lights to run without need...why is this acceptable for our city and neighbourhood? I strongly suggest we address this issue first before an expensive and destructive contruction job on Edinburgh.

Jb44 2 months ago

It is inconceivable to me that the current plan appears to indicate the appropriation of a number of historic properties for a temporary detour on Edinburgh. This is absurd. I’m stunned by the lack of basic decency expressed by the city. Affected property owners were not notified prior to these plans being made public. Details are significantly lacking. This is absolutely appalling!

My vote will not go to any candidate that supports this underpass project in the next municipal election. Guelph can do better. This is horrible. I’m at a loss for words.

Larry52 2 months ago

How much did the current study cost? What was Parsons paid? How much will be budgeted for an environmental assessment ? As a tax payer there are better uses of our money...

AEI 2 months ago

How much money is the city going to spend on this environmental assessment needed before the crossing can be approved? Why isn't this money being spent on items of higher priority such as education infrastructure, or the hospital?

Jen_iffer 2 months ago
Page last updated: 04 Jul 2022, 09:20 AM