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

47 thoughts on “Trail Still Closed – Concrete Work in Progress

  1. Thanks for the update. I think (hope) you mean “concrete work” and “concrete trucks”. Looking forward to using the trail again with all the new improvements.


    • Good point!


      What is the difference between cement and concrete?

      Although the terms cement and concrete often are used interchangeably, cement is actually an ingredient of concrete. Concrete is a mixture of aggregates and paste. The aggregates are sand and gravel or crushed stone; the paste is water and portland cement.

      Cement comprises from 10 to 15 percent of the concrete mix, by volume. Through a process called hydration, the cement and water harden and bind the aggregates into a rocklike mass. This hardening process continues for years meaning that concrete gets stronger as it gets older.


  2. … and there it is. Just as I said in August, this project has now gone from minimal closures to over a year with a complete season closed. Then, if I recall correctly, the next phase begins so a different portion of the trail will be closed for 2017. Well done, guys. Awesome project management. Thanks.



      • Hi Anthony,
        The current work is phase 1 of the Lower Don Trail Improvements. Phase 2 work is in “The Narrows” (Belleville to Bala underpass). Work includes widening, surface and drainage improvements, Dundas and Gerrard Staircases, and possibly a ramp at Riverdale bridge to be added to the scope.
        We do not yet have a schedule for Phase 2 but I would assume extended closures required, since the narrows are so narrow. I’ll keep you posted.

        See more details at


  3. No one has been able to explain why the City is building this rail overpass at all. Metrolinx has not published a plan for what to with the rail line. To the north the Half Mile and to the south the Don River bridges would need to be replaced along with all the rails. The Don River Valley Park talks about moving the Richmond Hill line to the east side of the river and yet this bridge is being built as a single rail not double. The cost efficient approach would have been to remove the rail berm, rails and build the bike path but not rebuild the overpass at all until Metrolinx, the City and the Park agree on a plan what to do with this rail line. Then it would be known what do with all bridges, rails and the submersible GO line on the west side of the Don River. But hey – it’s only a Million bucks to build the overpass and then find out we either – don’t need it or we need a second one.


    • Metrolinx has required the City to construct the trail underpass (under the currently not used Belleville track) to be functional for the future. The City has to meet the requirements set by Metrolinx when working within their right-of-way.


      • Again, no reason why from Metrolinx why the City has to do this. A complete waste of money when the City could have acknowledged its requirement to rebuild the overpass WHEN Metrolinx provides a comprehensive plan what it will do with all three bridges and the rail right of way. In the meantime the City could have just done a reasonable “temporary” bike path without an overpass and come back later.


        • Interesting Post.
          Does anyone know why the following was not done: “the City could have acknowledged its requirement to rebuild the overpass WHEN Metrolinx provides a comprehensive plan about what it will do with all three bridges and the rail right of way”
          Does anyone have any insight into why it was not possible for the City to “have just done a reasonable ‘temporary’ bike path without an overpass and come back later.” (once Metrolinx intentions crystalized)
          Thanks in advance for providing illuminating answers to these two (previously) posted questions.


          • Hi again. Metrolinx is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and the City of Toronto is a child of the Province, thus we generally have to do what they tell us. Also the Metrolinx railway right-of-way is not City property and we can only build as Metrolinx permits us too.

            In short, the answer is “Metrolinx told us too” and so we have no other choice.


          • This is all we got:

            Here is informtion from Vanessa Thomas, GO Public Relations on the purchase, for the record:

            Q – Can you confirm whether or not GO has purchased the “Don Branch” from the Canadian Pacific Railway? Is this indeed owned by Metrolinx or GO?

            Metrolinx purchased the Don Branch, which is part of the CP Bellville Subdivision, from CP in April 2009.
            The Don Branch is just over five kilometres of single track that connects the Union Station Rail Corridor to the CP Bellville Subdivision.
            The Don Branch runs from around Queen St E. (just west of Don River), crosses over the Don River near Riverdale Park, continues north along the Don Valley Parkway, crosses over and under Bayview Avenue, to join with the CP Bellville Subdivision tracks near Millwood Road just north of the DVP.
            Q – Is there any documentation supporting this? There have been no press releases to this effect, despite the public releases for purchase of other rights of way in Toronto. 

            The purchase agreement between GO and CP for the Don Branch would be the documentation that is on file with Metrolinx’s legal department.
            For a number of years, the Don Branch has not been active, or used by CP, prior to the purchase by Metrolinx.
            If the decision is made for future activation, this corridor will require significant capital rehabilitation work to be preformed.
            No major announcement about the purchase of the Don Branch has been made to the media because there is currently no impact to members of the public, and there has been no decision as to how and when this infrastructure could be used.

            In this doc:

            Click to access backgroundfile-94550.pdf

            5.6.3 Acceleration of the Richmond Hill Line
            The Richmond Hill Line follows a winding path through the Don Valley which causes low speeds and is susceptible to flooding. An alternative routing for these trains is using the CP line through the Don Valley and then a new connection between the CP North Toronto subdivision and the Richmond Hill Line where the CP to Agincourt line intersects with the Don Valley Parkway. This connection would not be possible with heavy freight traffic on the CP line as the Richmond Hill trains would have to cross the heavy through freight train flows. It would be feasible with the rerouting of the heavy through CP Rail traffic. This is also shown on Map 6.

            If you have a look at the doc – it’s clear the Belleville underpass is being built so that Metrolinx can connect the Don Valley lines to the the Mid-town line. There goes the Half-Mile bridge and Brickworks will have commuter trains running at the top of the east hill. That;’s why the Belleville underpass is being built to support a train.


          • “No major announcement about the purchase of the Don Branch has been made to the media because there is currently no impact to members of the public, and there has been no decision as to how and when this infrastructure could be used.”
            Right. That sounds transparent and trustworthy.


      • Hi Jason. A few questions:
        1) Is there any more detailed construction schedule available? Based on the latest picture posted, it seems like there is a lot of work left to do – finish constructing a base for the trail, build a bridge over the trail, lay a rail line on the bridge, and pave the trail, are just a few that are apparent. Winter is coming and frequent floods on the Don in the spring will limit accessibility. I don’t see how this work gets done anywhere near “early 2017”. I’m thinking 2018.
        2) In the original plan, Phase 1 also included “Condition Audit and Surface Improvements” between Belleville Underpass and Pottery Road. Has any of this work been done?
        3) The Gardiner East reconfiguration may be coming a few years down the road. I would imagine that would close the trail at least as far north as Queen St. Has there been any discussion about delaying phase 2 and doing the work in conjunction with the highway project to help minimize the trail closures?


        • 1) Sorry, no I do not have any more detailed work schedule to publish. You are right that weather is a big factor in getting the work done quickly, but “spring 2017” is what I have been told.

          2) Surface improvements are usually done in last stage of work, after all the heavy (concrete) trucks are no longer passing through the area.

          3) I’ll pass on your comments about coordinating the Gardiner East and Lower Don trail work to the project manager.


  4. Thanks for the update. Could you please explain what exactly being constructed? The problem with the old underpass was that when going south it was impossible to see anybody coming in opposite direction. And there was almost 90 degrees turn to the right with a small hill. From the picture above the turn still looks sharp and steep.


  5. well isn’t that just *special* – funny the Mayor said nothing about it when stood at Corktown Common and whined about raising money from the private sector. So he can fund raise til the cows come home but citizens don’t have access long standing public pathways? Nice democracy we have here!


  6. Thru there on Tues’. Trail is not finished (paved) between Pottery Rd level crossing and the traffic lights at Bayview.

    Then until the 4th of Nov’ the foot of the trail between the Don & Cherry St. (by the GO Train yard) the trail is closed due to soil testing for the Don River relocation project. Cyclists were detoured along Villiers (south of the Keating Channel. I wonder when the construction of the new Don River channel begins if that will affect cyclist/pedestrian traffic thru the area?

    Then you have the DVP to Gardiner ramp rework in the same area in the future, again is that going to affect riders?

    Those complaints aside, a lot of armchair engineers here. The update states “This extended closure is caused by unforeseen underground site conditions and challenges with 3rd party existing infrastructure in the work zone.” Hard to say to specifics but is it possible that the soil underneath was found to be insufficient to properly support a railway? On the second part, I’ve read of construction projects were delayed when once work commenced and soil was broken, underground infrastructure was not where it was documented or not documented at all.


    • Hey Kris,
      Just a small bit of insight from 15 years in a hybrid engineering/construction firm.
      The (potential) story here is one of the oldest in the books used to do smaller time-and-materials projects like Belleville (not EPC or EPCM). First you hire third party geo-technical folks to do seismic work, drill and do soil testing and use this data as part of your bid. Whatever you do, make sure you insulate yourself from the results of the geotechnical work (limitations of liability work best). Then, when you win the bid and start the work (on a time and materials basis), you discover that the geotechnical work was not sufficiently robust, and the predictable surprizes come to the surface quicker than a breaching whale. [At this point downplay your public claims of “innovation and unique knowledge of new construction and rehabilitation of bridge structures including rail work, tunnels, overpasses, underpasses”.]

      Make sure there are precious few penalties to be assessed by clients, but detail when time-and-materials triggers. Since the the City favours the optics of “low cost” bidders for smaller projects [small projects, generally under ~$25 million] you have a great opportunity to make money.

      The contracting approach that the City generally uses performs EXACTLY as designed, mostly yielding cost overruns and multi-month/year delays. This approach to contracting seems to work well financially for contractors and the City/electorate is, well, very accepting of the predictable outcome.
      If a private company such as the one doing the Belleville underpass work becomes a publically traded company, investors should snap up the shares, after additional careful analysis.


      • Fantastic insight. Thank you for this Jim.

        I don’t have an engineering background. But, I work in finance and I became curious as to how projects like this can deviate from time and cost in a such a large way. I mean, we’re not talking small variances here anymore. Doing some prelim research, I got the sense that all along the mechanics of how companies bid and are awarded such contracts seems to be fundamentally flawed, thus inevitably causing project delays and so called unforeseen circumstances. Knowing what I know now, the delay of this project was inevitable.

        But, what I find frustrating about this situation is there seems to be no efforts to improve this moving forward. Does anyone actually believe that the plans outlined in stage 2 of this project will have any credibility whatsoever?

        I have also began to find out the process of how the city reconciles the costs. I think people deserve to understand the full financial budget for the work compared to the final actuals.


  7. I have sent the question to Peter Tabuns. He is the MPP for the area and Metrolinx is a provincial thing. He is looking into it but no answer yet. If this is running over time and over budget it really does beg for more attention as to “why the City is building a train bridge and laying rails” when there is no plan for a train here. It’s a complete waste of taxpayer’s money that could have been deferred until a plan was in place.


  8. Don Valley trail is a major commuting route for bicyclists, yet nobody at the city hall from the mayor down seems too upset about a year-long closure. There are no clear answers what is being done and why, and why it’s taking the full year. Imagine if something like this happened for a major arterial road.


    • We are upset and frustrated with this extended trail closure. Major construction work is moving forward to complete the required rail underpass. We apologize for the continued inconvenience.


  9. What type of inconsiderate fool builds a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists entirely of metal in our climate?
    Those people and committees should be forced to walk, run and ride over metal bridges in wet and freezing weather. Nonstop. From September to May.
    Bad enough there is no safe route across the 401 anywhere near where it is useful, while the lower end of the city has been effectively removed from access for the more timid recreational rider – likely for two or three years – but then to fail to provide alternate routes, safe access to and along Bayview (and a little law enforcement here would be nice) or any kind of reliable timeline, but then use the most dangerous materials for cyclists!
    Toronto’s planners ought to bury themselves for shame.


    • Hi Dylan

      This pedestrian bridge at Pottery Road uses weathering steel planks which are extremely durable in their natural state, with an inherent protective oxide layer that regenerates continuously when exposed to the weather and provides increased resistance to atmospheric corrosion compared to other steels, effectively providing a maintenance-free finish.

      Planks feature a dimpled surface that provides an effective non-slip texture. The bridge deck is flat, further minimizing chances of user slippage compared to a cambered or sloped deck.

      This dimpled corten weathered steel has been used in many pedestrian applications for throughout the City, including UTSC campus, just outside Colonel Danforth park, and a stair case in High Park.

      May I note that this bridge design is part of the DTAH led Master Plan effort for the Lower Don Trail, which won an Award of Merit at the Toronto Urban Design Awards in 2015, and Regional Honour, Canadian Society of Landscape Architects in 2014.


  10. Although this project has closed the trail for what seems like forever. The city doesn’t do winter maintenance on the trail anyway.
    J. Diceman a quick question why isn’t there a temp separated space for people to get through ?


    • Hi Jason. Happy New Year!
      Transportation staff looked at all the options for a temporary path around the heavy construction area, but could not find a solution they could endorse as safe for families to use.


  11. Imagine if we understood that Canada has a winter and the bicycle trails could be flooded with water from the Don and turned into long skating trails.
    Ottawa makes $$ from tourism on this investment while Toronto spends the $$ on building a useless railway bridge over a cycling path that is under utilized in Jan/Feb


  12. Since we have had a remarkably mild winter to date can we assume that construction is moving ahead and the Spring re-opening date will be met? (I assume the City thinks Spring goes on until mid-May!) I actually cycled today from Riverdale Park down Lower Don Trail to Corktown. That section of the trail has some sections that really need some repair/repaving. If the City really cared about cyclists they would have done any necessary work there while the section from Pottery Road to Riverdale is closed.


    • Hi David,

      While we have had some mild days, it is still winter in the valley, regularly dipping below zero, reducing construction capacity. Spring is March 20 to June 21. Staff are pushing our contractors to re-open the trail as soon as possible; May-April, is probably realistic.

      The section of trail south of Riverdale Bridge does need major work. That section is called “The Narrows” (Belleville to Bala underpass) and is considered Phase 2 of the Lower Don Trail Improvements project. The Narrows will be improved with enhanced habitat, trail widening and resurfacing. In addition to the existing staircase at Queen Street, new access points to the trail will be provided with stairs from existing bridges at Gerrard and Dundas Streets. The stairs will feature lookouts over the trail and have a carefully designed bicycle trough to permit cyclist access to the trail. A new signature art fence has been proposed, to add to the improved experience along the trail. We are also looking at possible ramps to connect at the Riverdale Bridge. The schedule for Phase 2 is not yet set. And yes, unfortunately this will again require trail closures to complete these major improvements.

      Learn more at


    • Of course tuning your bike is a great idea. Toronto is filled with wonderful bike routes you can use now and into the spring. Specifically we have Cycling Snow Routes

      But, of course, you are asking about the Lower Don Trail closure during construction. I have yet to receive an update from the contractors with a firm trail reopening date, so I’m sticking with “mid-spring” until I hear otherwise. We continue to apologize for the prolonged closure.


  13. Any idea when the new Pottery Road bridge, rail crossing and path to Broadview will be opened? For my Southbound commute I need to ride on the sidewalk, dismount to cross Pottery Rd and then continue on the new Broadview path.


    • We are still waiting on the latest estimated schedule from the contractors. We probably will not have a firm date until winter weather is over and the ravine has fully thawed, allowing the contractors to restart soil grading work. So I’m sticking with “mid-spring” until I hear otherwise. We continue to apologize for the prolonged closure.


    • We are still waiting on the latest estimated schedule from the contractors. We probably will not have a firm date until winter weather is over and the ravine has fully thawed, allowing the contractors to restart soil grading work. So I’m sticking with “mid-spring” until I hear otherwise. We continue to apologize for the prolonged closure.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Surely the ravine has thawed completely by now, checking myself the other day it clearly is. So now with the warmer weather over the last few weeks, any updates??? please??!!!


  15. EXCELLENT! i’m so looking forward to accessing the trail again, it’s such a huge part of my weekends as silly as it sounds. any updates would be wonderful, Thanks so much!



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s