After decades without adequate transit expansion, it’s time to pay. The cost is not only monetary but comes as construction-related dust, noise and delays — particularly in the city of Toronto. Stimulus funding is going to result in a lot of road resurfacing in 2010, followed by years spent building new subway and light rail lines.
Some areas can expect more disruption than others. Businesses and homes along the planned Transit City routes may be more difficult to reach by auto — permanently.
Higher land values are expected to accompany these new LRT routes as well as the Spadina subway extension to Vaughan, putting further pressure on low-rise, car-friendly areas to make way for urban-style development.
No matter how justified, heavy construction in the city is hard to take — especially after years of relative calm. Just ask people living near the Georgetown rail line — some of whom already hear the thud of pile-drivers. Residents along all GO Transit corridors must adapt to construction and then more trains.
There will be many complaints about all this heavy work in hopes that authorities can make it bearable.
Some opponents want to alter the transit projects themselves, such as building subways instead of light rail to reduce noise and surface delays.
Those following the latter strategy have a big job ahead. They would need to reopen the regional transport plan that is underway, as well as show their real aim is not to curtail transit expansion.
And someone must enunciate just how to pay the higher cost of tunnelling underground. There are ways to raise the money — including road tolls or higher taxes — but these also generate heavy opposition.
Let’s have this discussion, although with the aim of building the next phase of overdue transit projects, not stopping the ones already under way.
Note to commuters: See toronto.ca/stimulus_fund for maps of upcoming roadwork.