Monday, January 25, 2010

Other Bridges Over the Lower Don

In addition to pedestrian, rail, and road bridges, there are a few miscellaneous structures that are no longer used or are just not used for people. These three structures are all located south of Queen.

This is an unusual bridge among the Lower Don bridges. It is not used for any vehicle or pedestrian traffic. It is a non-descript steel box about 3m high and 5m wide. It crosses the river just south of the Lakeshore railway bridge. According to my sources, it is used to carry critical hydro lines across the river.

Old Eastern Avenue bridge. According to Wikipedia this bridge was built in 1933 to replace an earlier one that was damaged by a spring ice jam. In 1964 the bridge was closed when the Don Valley Parkway was built. Nowadays it is only used by some street people who hang out underneath the deck. If you look closely you'll notice a brown circle mounted on the south side of the bridge. This is a leftover from an art project mounted in 2008. The artists removed most of their work but left this remnant which is sure to puzzle passersby long after I'm gone.

This bridge is owned by Enbridge (formerly Consumers Gas) and contains a 30" (0.76m) gas main. A recent Environmental Assessment recommended that the sides of the bridge be opened up to increase flow through space in the event of a Hurricane Hazel style flood.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Two dates for next week

These days I usually just tweet about these things but because they are both relatively important (Don Valley-wise) I though I'd better blog about them too.

The first is the deadline to submit an application to join the Don Watershed Regeneration Council. The Don Council is made up of members that come from all parts of the Don watershed. It is a body of the Toronto Region Conservation Authority. For the next three years the council will be focused on helping to implement the brand new Don Watershed Plan. Applications are being accepted up until Monday January 25. For more information please see this website page.

The second thing is on Wednesday, January 27. This is another public meeting concerning the restoration of the mouth of the Don River. This meeting will provide updates on current progress on the environmental assessment and will give members of the public a chance to ask questions and provide input. The meeting will take place at the Toronto Fire Academy at 895 Eastern Avenue. Open house starts at 6 PM, presentation and discussion starts at 6:30 PM.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Road Bridges of the Lower Don

This is the third of a series on bridges that cross the Don River south of the forks. Previously I blogged about pedestrian and railway bridges. Road bridges comprise the majority of bridges. Of the 26 bridges that cross the lower Don River, 13 are used by road traffic. Here they are from south to north. Note that I haven't included the Cherry Street lift bridge at the west end of the Keating Channel since I consider this part of the harbour and is not really on the river.

The first bridge is a dual bridge. On top is the Gardiner Expressway and below is Lakeshore Blvd. East. It probably dates from the 1960s when the Gardiner was built.

This picture contains bridges 2 and 3. The one in the foreground is the offramp to the Don Valley Parkway. The bridge in the background is the onramp.

This bridge connects Eastern Avenue to both Front Street East and Richmond Street.

This is the ramp from the Don Valley Parkway that connects to Front Street East and Richmond Street.

Queen Street East Bridge. The bridge was built in 1911 and replaced several earlier bridges all of which were damaged by Don River flooding. During the 1837 Upper Canada Rebellion, rebels tried to burn the bridge but were unsuccessful.

Dundas Street East. There is a sign on the bridge that says "1910 2007". Presumably that indicates when it was built. I do remember a lot of reconstruction work a couple of years ago so I guess that's what the 2007 refers to.

Gerrard Street East. There is no plaque on this bridge (at least none that I could see). However it looks very similar to the Dundas Street bridge so it may date from the 1910s.

Bloor Street Viaduct. Officially the Prince Edward Viaduct but nobody local calls it that. Opened in 1918, the far-sighted designer included an underdeck for a future subway that wouldn't be built until 1960. The bridge construction was portrayed in fiction by well known author Michael Ondaatje in his book, In the Skin of the Lion.

A connector bridge that runs between the DVP and the Bayview Extension. Underneath this bridge is an unused cloverleaf exit. Two slowly decaying offramps are closed off and lead nowhere. Their existence is a legacy of a colossal plan to lace all of Toronto with a network of expressways. This bridge was supposed to be the start of the Crosstown Expressway which would have cut straight through Rosedale and the Annex and link up with the Black Creek Expressway. None of these came to fruition but the Don Valley is stuck with the leftovers of this folly.

Pottery Road eastbound. The Pottery Road bridge is actually two separate one lane bridges. The westbound bridge is the later construction and the east bound (the one with the arch) is earlier. A plaque on this bridge indicates it was built in 1928.

Pottery Road westbound. This bridge, the more modern of the two was constructed in 1977.

Leaside bridge. Actually it is Millwood Road that goes over the bridge. It splits into Donlands and Pape at the south end. The bridge was built in 1927. While the underdeck looks like it might be converted to a subway line, according to Steve Munro this is not the case.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Railway Bridges of the Lower Don

There are six railway bridges that cross the Don River south of the forks of the Don. There are four separate rail lines with two lines having two bridges each. Here they are from south to north.

This bridge is hard to see because it abuts right up against the Lakeshore Blvd East/Gardiner Expressway bridge. This bridge is owned by Toronto Terminals Railway. It connects the main Union Station rail yard to the west to a smaller one just east of the Don River. From the eastern yard there are two more spurs that serve a few customers in the portlands to the south. It is not used very often as most freight now comes and goes by truck. The one regular customer I know of is the Ashbridges Bay Sewage Treatment plant. They still receive some chemicals delivered in tank cars which need to cross this bridge.

This bridge has three separate rail lines and is the main Lakeshore line which connects Toronto to destinations to the east (a fourth track appears to be the tail end of the rail yard). In 2006-7, the span was lengthened to accommodate maximum flood levels that could impact the Don if a Hurricane Hazel style storm hits the watershed some time in the future. This necessitated the closure of the lower Don path for 9 months. While inconvenient it was worth it since the new path connection is much nicer than the old one.

This bridge is the first on the CP line that leads to an unused spur. It runs beside the Don Valley Parkway and up to the rail line behind the Millwood Road Loblaws site. It is the first of two bridges on this line south of the forks.

This is the second bridge on the CP spur and is the highest rail span on the lower Don. It is owned by CP rail and was once used as a commuter line connecting Toronto to Durham and Peterborough. It is currently unused and there has been some talk about converting it for pedestrian use. However, the Federal government has nixed this idea since Jim Flaherty, the MP for Peterborough has mooted about reviving GO service.

First of two bridges on the CN line. This is just north of Pottery Road. It was hard to get a good picture of this bridge because it is obscured by trees lining the riverbank. This bridge along with the other CN bridge and the first CP bridge are of the same construction. I don't know when they were built but they probably date from the 1920s.

Second CN bridge at Beechwood Drive. Note the tree trunk stuck on the bridge. This became lodged here due to a recent flood. On the far bank you can also see a ramp built underneath the railway bridge which is used by cyclists.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Pedestrian Bridges of the Lower Don

I thought it would be an interesting photo study to look at all the bridges that cross the Don River. All told there are 26 bridges that cross over the river between the lake and the forks of Don where the East and West branches converge. Of those three have been specifically built for pedestrian use and one other has been converted.

This bridge connects the lower Don trail to the Martin Goodman Trail as it heads east along the Lakeshore to the Beaches. It was put in place about 5 years ago when they took down the Gardiner east of the Don. It is a simple one piece bridge span and may eventually be moved when the mouth of the Don is reconfigured some time in the future.

This bridge connects the east and west portions of Riverdale Park. The bridge was constructed in 1959. In the late 80s stairs down to the lower Don Trail were added.

Footbridge just north of Riverdale Park on the Lower Don Trail. Like the bridge down at Lakeshore it is of single span construction. It arcs about 3m above the river. Even so, some of the higher floods have covered the bridge leaving debris covering the floorboards. These floorboards are loosely bolted to the bridge and make a lot of racket when you cycle across.

This bridge is north of Pottery Road at the very end of Beechwood Drive. Up until the 1970s the west side of the river was a municipal dump and trucks used this bridge to access the dump site. The dump is now closed and the bridge has two large boulders placed at one end to prevent vehicles from using it. It is now only used by pedestrians and cyclists.