Upgraded Trail to be Reopened Mid-September, Pending 3rd Party Work”

Metrolinx has issued permits for third-party work required before City contractors can complete the trail work. The third-party work includes a cable utility relocation at the new Belleville Underpass, and the trail crossing over the active rail line by the new Pottery Road trail bridge. The rail crossing work can only happen on weekends due to weekday commuter rail traffic.

Meanwhile, City contractors are assembling all the plant material and new soil required for site restoration and enhancements, ready to mobilize when the third-party providers have completed their work in the next few weeks. Re-grading and paving the affected portions of trail will be the last step.

Plans are coming together for a re-opening event and celebration of Toronto’s ravines in September. It will be announced here, and we hope you will join us to ride, walk, and enjoy the new connections and underpass.

An Update from Parks Construction Manager

Key Message: Trail will open soon, pending 3rd party utility re-location. Final construction work will continue into September.

Dear Trail Users

I understand your frustration on this project. We are working to get this trail open as soon as possible. When we reopen, the safety of this trail, its surfaces, connection to the Bayview multi-use trail and the visitor experience will be greatly improved, but I realize it is hard to take comfort in these improvements while the trail remains closed.

Currently, we are waiting for a third-party utility that runs across the trail to be relocated so that final grades are acceptable for cyclists and do not impose a hazard. While this relocation is not the last of the work to be done, we expect that the trail will open after this work is completed. Additional safety protocols will be established to allow the final construction work to be completed while the trail remains open.

The Lower Don Trail is a major spine in the utility infrastructure of this city. Three high-pressure oil pipelines, a gas line, as well as a major high-speed fibre optic line are all hidden in the trail alignment. On top of this is the visible utility infrastructure of electrical corridors and two rail corridors, all sandwiched within this green oasis of a recreational trail. As a result, there is very little working room between the rail, Don Valley Parkway and the river.

Unusual high water and heavy rain this season has also affected the productivity of crews working in tight proximity to the river. Water levels of the Lower Don overflowed the banks in several areas of the project more than once this year, causing flooding in our work areas.

I do want to clarify the status on the permits required and the timing of the applications. The City consulted with both Metrolinx and the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) about requirements and permits through the design process beginning in 2014.  TRCA permits were completed in one step. Metrolinx requires permits be completed in a sequential process for each stage of work, as each stage is completed.  Each submission takes several weeks to review and process and some of these permits have required several submissions. The most recent permit is a final re-submission for the last of 15 Metrolinx permits, which includes those needed by third-party utilities to relocate within the corridor as part of the project as well. This is the process for all Metrolinx permits for these types of projects.

There have been lessons learned in the permit review and approval process that will be applied to the next stage of Lower Don work, and indeed all future trail work. Also, I am working with staff to improve how we plan and communicate trail detours to reduce the effect on trail users. This work includes ensuring contractors are better able to safely maintain, to the fullest extent possible, public access to trails and public facilities during construction.

We look forward to the reopening and we hope you will attend the formal celebration of the improved trail later in the fall.


Daniel McLaughlin

Manager, Construction Management & Capital Projects

Parks Development and Capital Projects

Parks Forestry and Recreation

Aiming to Reopen Trail in July – Date to be Determined

The City is in the final stages of work to reopen the improved section of Lower Don Trail between Pottery Road and the Riverdale Parks Bridge.

flooded tunnel

Record rainfall has caused intermittent flooding, slowing progress. Here, contractors inspect the completed Belleville trail underpass structure.



Bala Track removed

Tracks Removed:  The rail bed on top of the Underpass, before laying the new track ballast and rails.


train tracks over underpass

Tracks Replaced: City contractors have replaced the rail line above the Belleville underpass and largely completed the earthworks around the new structure.


In recent weeks, here’s what’s been completed:

  • The rail line above the new Belleville trail underpass has been replaced, which is a Metrolinx requirement for potential future use of the rail corridor
  • Earthwork around the new underpass is almost finished, despite the wet soil conditions
  • Work has been completed for some of the necessary engineering features at the new Pottery Road trail bridge as well as railings on bridge approaches
  • Drainage improvements have been made to minimize flooding risk within the Belleville Underpass
  • Seating circle has been created at Pottery Road Trailhead


big square rock being movedContractors have been able to incorporate old foundation stones unexpectedly found at the Belleville Underpass site into the new earthworks shoring up the tunnel


Here is what’s left to do as of this posting date:

  • City contractors await Metrolinx permits for the final trail connection over the rail line at the new Pottery Road trail bridge, connecting the trail to the new, completed Bayview multi-use trail
  • City contractors await Metrolinx permits to reinstate utilities at the Belleville underpass, a requirement before the trail can be paved in that section
  • Soil quality and environmental approvals are pending to ensure the topsoil on site is appropriate for the plant material and meets the specifications of the contract
  • Asphalt installation and resurfacing from Pottery Road to the Belleville underpass
  • Planting of native species and other landscaping elements
  • Installation of new trail signs and surfacing associated with sign approach areas and seating area at Pottery Road


high water in river

Rising water levels in the adjacent Don River from record rainfalls have challenged construction work.

Higher than normal rainfalls causing flooding have delayed some work.

Assuming enough favourable weather and permit approvals from our partners, we are optimistic the trail can be safely reopened in July. Stay tuned to this blog for announcements.

Until the trail is opened, please do not trespass past the fences.  Along with construction area dangers, there has been flooding in this section of trail, as there have been extreme weather events, with water levels far above normal for this time of year.

Thank you again for your ongoing patience.

April 2017 Construction to Resume – Trail to Remain Closed to July

With above zero temperatures now the norm, construction crews will be returning to the work site on the Lower Don Trail next week. To facilitate the construction traffic in a safe manner, the section of trail between Pottery Road and Riverdale Park Bridge will remain closed until July 2017.

For trail users looking to connect to the trail north or south of the closure, the recommended detour remains via Broadview Avenue (view detour map).

We apologize for this extreme ongoing inconvenience, but unfortunately the contractors and City project team were previously overly optimistic with the date for re-opening the trail in the spring.  City staff have pressed for the trail to be reopened as soon as possible, but with public safety concerns on site, July remains the projected date for reopening.

Belleville Rail Underpass tunnel

Belleville Rail Underpass tunnel in progress

On the positive side, major works have been accomplished, such as the installation of the trail bridge at Pottery Road, and more recently the main concrete work for the Belleville Rail Underpass tunnel.

The next tasks will include large amounts of soil movement for grading and drainage works.  After this, crews will be planting, repairing sections of trail, paving, top soil placement, grading and seeding.

The City is also looking forward to required works by Metrolinx related to their rail crossing, to allow for the connection of the trail across the new Pottery Road bridge to the new Bayview multi-use trail to Rosedale Valley Road.

We can’t wait to post an update this summer celebrating the opening of this much improved section of the Toronto’s fantastic ravine trail network.  Thank you again for your patience.

Learn more about the Lower Don Trail Improvements at toronto.ca/lowerdon


Trail Still Closed – Concrete Work in Progress

498406322.jpgUnfortunately Lower Don Trail will remain closed between Pottery Road and Riverdale Park Bridge in to spring 2017.

This extended closure is caused by unforeseen underground site conditions and challenges with 3rd party existing infrastructure in the work zone.

Heavy concrete trucks are travelling in the work area now. Please respect the trail closure that is in place for your own safety. See recommend detour route map via Broadview Ave below or at this link .

The new Bayview Ave multi-use trail is now passable from Pottery Road to Rosedale Valley Road, which makes a good alternate route connecting west to the Brick Works, The Beltline Trail or into the city.

More update information…

The project team has been hard at work on the Belleville Rail Underpass portion of the project.  Sub-grade works have been complete with the placement of the final caisson and the advancement to the structure works.  The footing concrete and associated rebar have been placed with our crews working on forming the accompanying wingwalls and retaining walls.

At the Pottery Road segment of work, contractors have been excavating and grading the pathway connection from Bayview to the new Pottery Structure.  They are coordinating with the railway to create an appropriate at-grade crossing plan. Please note the new trail bridge is not yet open.

Please be reminded that construction activities and the associated truck traffic pose a risk to the public.  We have to stress that all parties respect the trail closure that is in place as it is for the safety of the public.  Unfortunately, it has been observed that some individuals choose to disregard the signage, fencing, site personnel and closure.  The act of disregarding this closure can pose a risk not only to yourself but to others as well.

See recommend detour route map via Broadview Ave below.  Bayview Multi-use trail is also now passable from Pottery Road to Rosedale Valley Rd.

Lower Don Construction Areas and Detour Map

Pottery Rd. Reopened Sunday after New Trail Bridge Installed Ahead of Schedule

Pottery Road is open again to vehicles and pedestrians ahead of schedule following the successful installation of the new trail bridge on Saturday.


Thanks to some professional crane operators, great project team work, and follow through on commitments by Mother Nature, the new pedestrian-cycling bridge is now in place and the weekend construction area closures have been removed.  Thank you, trail users and motorists, for your patience.
Trail users can again connect to the Lower Don Trail north of Pottery Road to Beechwood and also to the trails in Crothers Woods.  Sorry, but the Lower Don Trail, south of Pottery Road, will remain closed in to late fall for the challenging construction of the Belleville Underpass.
The new Pottery Road bridge itself will not be open until connecting pathways are completed – stay tuned to this blog!
The new bridge will connect the Lower Don Trail to the new Bayview Multi-use trail, separated from the roadway with a guide rail, now under construction (see drawings on panel #12 under Phase 1 Construction on the project web page)
We hope you all have a delightful Sunday!

Pottery Rd. & Trail Closures August 27-28 for New Trail Bridge (more details)

[Update August 28: Pottery Rd. Reopened Sunday after New Trail Bridge Installed Ahead of Schedule]

This weekend, Pottery Road is closed and the Lower Don Trail is closed to and from Pottery Road going north and south.  That means no trail access south of Beechwood Drive/Don Mills through to Riverdale Park. Please avoid this area.

Access from the trails in Crothers Woods to and from Pottery Road will also be closed. 

See map and more details below…Aug 27 2016 Pottery Closures

The good news:

The Pottery Road new pedestrian/cycling bridge is being placed the weekend of August 27-28! It will connect the new Bayview Avenue multi-use trail, now under construction, to the Lower Don Trail as part of Lower Don Trail improvements.


The bad news:

Bridge installation requires the following closures the weekend of Aug. 27-28:


Pottery Road:

Pottery Road between Bayview Avenue and Broadview Avenue will be closed to all through traffic the weekend of August 27-28, beginning 6 a.m. Saturday. Local access only to Fantasy Farms and Todmorden Mills will be maintained from Broadview Avenue.

Cyclists coming down Pottery Road from Broadview will not be able to connect to the Lower Don Trail. Same goes for pedestrians, skateboarders, incline skates, and uni-cyclists. Sorry.


Lower Don Trail, north of Pottery Road:

The trail will be closed south of Beechwood Drive/Don Mills. Any trail user arriving at Pottery Road will be turned back up the trail. There is no exit during construction.


Lower Don Trail, south of Pottery Road:

This portion of the trail is already closed, from Pottery to Riverdale Park, for continuing work on the new Belleville Underpass tunnel.


Crothers Woods Trail, north of Pottery Road:

The trail will be closed at the top of the hill leading down to Pottery Road. Any trail users arriving at Pottery Road will be turned back up the trail. There is no exit during construction.


The Worse News:

Unfortunately the closure on Lower Don Trail, south of Pottery Road, will be extended in to late fall.  The complications in constructing the Belleville Underpass tunnel continue to be a serious challenge for our construction contractors.  I know, this is really  frustrating and annoying.

As a positive distraction,  try the new Bloor Street bike lanes, which we just installed!   Ya! Let’s just talk about Bloor, right?   (sigh)

Pottery Rd. Closed August 27-28 for New Trail Bridge Placement

The Pottery Road new pedestrian/cycling bridge is being placed the weekend of August 27-28.

Recreational trail users heading south from Don Mills will be rerouted back north to avoid the conflict with the cranes while they are placing the bridge. 

This bridge placement unfortunately requires that Pottery Road will be closed during the time required to place the bridge.  At Bayview Avenue intersection with Pottery Road expect a full barrel closure of both north and south bound turning lanes to Pottery Road.  From Broadview Avenue only local traffic travelling to Todmorden Mills and Fantasy Farm will have access to proceed.  Police will be on site to monitor the cranes from both sides, as well as at the Pottery – Broadview intersection.

Recreational trail users heading south from Don Mills will be rerouted back north to avoid the conflict with the cranes while they are placing the bridge.

As soon as the bridge placement is complete the roads will be opened, but please plan your routes to avoid this closure on the weekend of August 27-28

Here is an artist rendering of what the new bridge will look like. 160808_Bridge-Approach-web

Photos of the actual bridge in place will follow soon. Future photos may or may not include a kid with a yellow balloon.

Have a great weekend.


Trail to Remain Closed through August

The Pottery Road bridge project is progressing well however the Belleville Underpass reconstruction project has unfortunately had several challenges in construction.  These challenges include:

  1. A redesign and additional excavation caused by an unforeseen condition encountered during construction, and
  2. Engineering difficulties observed with the progress of the installation of the 26 caissons (supports) for the rail underpass.

Unfortunately this slower progress means that the trail will remain closed longer than first anticipated and likely an additional month until mid August or possibly September.

Fortunately  construction on the proposed detour route of Broadview Avenue is complete, with all lanes open now.

Please consider the long term benefits this underpass will bring as a major improvement when completed.  Your patience while we get there is much appreciated.

Remember that there is a Police presence on the trail to ensure cyclists are respecting the closure for their own safety.  Be safe and do not trespass through the construction site as trucks are not able to see cyclists safely as they progress in and out of the site along the trail.  Images above show the large equipment in process with very large shoring rigs, concrete trucks and other construction vehicles moving through the trail area between Belleville Underpass and the Pottery Road access.

We sincerely apologize again for this unforeseen and very unfortunate summer trail closure situation. We look forward to announcing the reopening of this section of the Lower Don Trail, with major improvements to be enjoyed for generations to come.



Do Not Enter Construction Zone, please

A serious and important update:


20160609_111703_resized_1Contractors have alerted the City that cyclists and joggers are still trying to navigate their way through the active construction zone.  They will be rerouted back.  The construction zone has very heavy equipment with limited visibility; including large caisson drilling cranes, concrete trucks, soil trucks.  This is a major infrastructure component and the construction zone needs to be secure for everyone’s safety.

Please respect the barriers and take the detour routes so this project can be completed ASAP.  Police presence will enforce these closures.

Thanks to all the cyclists and joggers for your cooperation and again, we apologize for this inconvenience and look forward to completing this project and opening an improved trail experience for you soon.

See new recommended detours in previous blog post.