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There is Complexity in Beauty; Engineering Toronto’s New Waterfront Boulevard


Queens Quay is Toronto’s main waterfront street. In 2006, Waterfront Toronto hosted a design
competition to transform and revitalize the street into a major destination. The winning
concept proposed four parallel linear systems, one for each mode, within the same right-ofway.
The concept included, from south to north, a grand new pedestrian promenade, an
extension of the Martin Goodman Trail, reconstructed transitway, and placement of two-way
general traffic north of the tracks. This is a truly complete street and expected to be one of the
most vibrant and attractive streets in Toronto.
The corridor is a major transit route with streetcar connections to Union Station via the
underground tunnel beneath Bay Street. The new configuration; however, meant more signals
and potentially more delay for transit users. The interaction of bikes and pedestrians at
intersections led the design team to consider various options in two primary contenders: a
shared space concept, and a fully controlled concept with bicycle signals. The final decision was
to pursue the bicycle signal concept for positive guidance, safety and compliance with the
Highway Traffic Act.
The complex geometry and balancing of competing priorities led to various operational
concepts and innovative solutions at every intersections. There are closely spaced intersection
pairs which are interconnected for safety and reliability, a special laneway which introduces a
tricky left turn trap, and the streetcar loop at Lower Spadina Avenue which may end up being
the most complex intersection in the City.
Despite its complexity, the ultimate cross section will include the 4 parallel transportation
systems along with a double allay of trees, one on either side of the Martin Goodman Trail,
creating a linear park within the right-of-way. The new iconic boulevard will be an address for
thousands of existing and future residents, and a must-see destination for the millions of
annual visitors to the waterfront of Toronto.
The street opens in the summer of 2015.

Conference Paper Details

Session title:
Geometric Design - Lessons Learned
Gauthier, M.-P.
Geometric design