Queen Street Bridge is Falling Down

Text by James Bow, pictures by Stephen van Egmond

Riders on the King and Queen streetcars all knew it. The drivers knew it. The TTC management knew it: it was past time to replace the stretch of streetcar track on Queen Street, west of Broadview Avenue and east of River Street. The problem was, that stretch of track ran over the Queen Street bridge over the Don River, and the City knew that the structure would need a massive renovation, if not rebuilding, soon. It only made sense to hold off track reconstruction until it could be combined with bridge reconstruction. Finally, in the year 2002, all of the elements came together. The City was going to bite the bullet and rebuild the bridge. The TTC track crews were ready.

It was a massive project with massive headaches. The stretch of Queen Street between Broadview Avenue and King hosted four streetcar routes (501 Queen, 502 Downtowner, 503 Kingston Road, 504 King) and dozens of streetcars every hour. There were plenty of cars from the east end of Toronto using the bridge to head downtown as well. Diversions meant long delays and massive traffic jams on other bridges, but these were unavoidable.

Westbound 501 Queen, 502 Downtowner and 503 Kingston Road cars diverted north on Broadview, west on Dundas and south on Parliament to either Queen (501 and 502) or King (503) while westbound King cars heading south on Broadview met the diversion at Dundas. During hte busiest part of the rush-hour, every second King car was diverted via Gerrard and Parliament in order to reduce congestion on Dundas. Even with this precaution, all it took was for an accident on Dundas (which happened on May 1st) to take the schedulers to a new level of pain. Even the 303 Don Mills Night bus was affected, running west along Dundas and south on River Street to get to King.

Initially no replacement shuttle buses were to be provided, but the TTC responded to local pressure and operated the Corktown Shuttle, operating clockwise via King, Jarvis, Queen and River on fifteen minute headways.

Passengers and drivers coped with the disruption and, slowly but surely, the construction progressed. Finally, in the middle of July, work was complete. Regular service returned to all routes, with a brief interruption at the end of July for further trackwork on Queen east of Broadview.


Bridge work

Here we see bridge work well underway. The road has been ripped completely from the deck. Considerable support structures were added for the safety of drivers on the Don Valley Parkway.

Walkways

Walkways for the workers!

East side

More of the construction site, near the east end of the bridge. The ramp onto the Don Valley Parkway was closed, of course.

Hit the deck!

The deck of the bridge, completely stripped.

Open Sidewalk

The bridge remained open for pedestrians, using the protected south sidewalk.

Rivet

This shot shows the rivets of the support beams, and the beginnings of the new cornice to be placed atop the bridge.

Through the deck

Here we see a portion of the deck removed, and the street (Bayview) below it exposed to view.

Down King

The Don River bridge not only holds Queen Street, but a portion of King Street as well. Here, we see some of the uncovered decking down King Street, ending at River.

Erosion

Some of the eroded concrete that needed fixing.

Poured Concrete

Some time later, once the deck was completely repaired, concrete for the roadbed was poured down. Note the space left for the streetcar tracks, here at the King/Queen intersection.

Poured Concrete

Another view of the King/Queen intersection. Compare with this earlier shot.

Old Meets New

Here we see the east end of the trench, where it meets the very battered old tracks of Queen Street.

Old Meets New

At the west end of construction, the workers have prepared the trench to accept tracks.

Dark
 Trench

The first tracks are being placed in the new trench. The bridge sits in the background. This view is of Queen Street, near Broadview, looking west.

Tracks!

Construction workers have laid out the tracks and are about to bolt them into the trackbed.

Tracks!

At the east end of construction, the tracks have been cemented into place. In the background, you can see Broadview Avenue and one of the streetcars diverting onto it.

Bricks!

As part of the reconstruction, the sidewalks were redone, with special blue bricks laid down in a "flowing" pattern to highlight the street's connection with the river.

Bridge

Here we see the bridge almost at the end of reconstruction. The lettering on the cornice states "THIS RIVER I STEP IN IS NOT THE RIVER I STAND IN." More information about the street art related to this bridge can be found at this website.