Metrolinx/GO Transit has set Sept. 17 as the date for a public presentation of its proposed noise walls for Sorauren Park and area.
The walls are proposed to mask the sound of increased diesel train traffic on the Georgetown rail corridor beside the park. Carcinogenic diesel rail traffic is planned to increase eight-fold over the coming years, from approximately 50 to 400 trains per day to serve the growing suburbs and the new rail link to Pearson airport.
The noise wall meeting for our stretch of the corridor will be:
Tuesday, September 17, 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.
The Lithuanian House, 1573 Bloor Street West
Community advisory committees have expressed serious reservations about the Metrolinx wall proposals. Some designs will become graffiti magnets, and community proposals to explore “living” green walls were dismissed. Some voices have also asked that no walls be built in certain areas until the true traffic and noise conditions are understood, especially in the context of proposed electrification of the rail corridor, which would introduce quieter, lighter, faster, non-emitting and cheaper-to-operate trains.
More details including updated sketches of the proposed walls will be posted once available.
Landscape architects on contract to Metrolinx are proposing a transparent, multi-coloured acrylic noise wall for the park along the rail corridor.
The rail corridor is being expanded to accommodate the new Union-Pearson Express diesel rail link to the airport, and an increase in regular diesel GO train traffic. Provincial regulations require noise walls due to the increase in loud diesel train traffic. Metrolinx predicts traffic to increase from about 50 trains per day currently to approximately 200 per day by 2015, and more than 400 per day in the years afterwards.
The acrylic noise walls were presented this month to the community advisory committee providing input to Metrolinx. The full presentation can be found here (pdf). More information on the community advisory committee can be found here.
A full public meeting will be held in September to present refined designs.
The 16-foot-high acrylic walls would extend from the edge of the condos north of the park, south across the entire east side of the park, continuing behind the future community centre and the east end of Wabash Avenue. A different design—precast concrete with transparent top ribbon—would continue south of that point, behind the homes on Macdonell.
Metrolinx has also proposed filling in the existing swale between the top of the berm in the park and the Metrolinx property line, marked by the existing chain-link fence (see illustration). But no decision has been made on the swale.
Members of the community advisory committee have told Metrolinx that the view from Sorauren Park is an important feature worth preserving. At the same time, members are concerned about graffiti on the walls.
The City of Toronto has ruled out willow-based “green walls” primarily because of ongoing maintenance costs and less-effective noise mitigation.
What do you think? Would these walls invite graffiti? Would vine-covered walls be preferable? Maybe a combination of the two, so kids can still watch the trains through “windows” in the wall? Should the swale be filled in? Should it be filled in high enough to create a better toddler toboggan hill? Should the “no wall” option be explored pending further discussions on electrification and real vs predicted noise levels?
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For related stories on the rail corridor including the fight for electric rather than diesel cancer trains, click here.