A well-travelled intersection along Toronto's King Street West will close for over a month to allow for street car track replacement, the City has announced.
The intersection of King and Shaw Streets will close beginning Tuesday, October 4 and is expected to remain blocked off to traffic until November 12.
The intersection has already become a construction site over the past two weeks, with the westbound curb lane along King Street closed for both watermain and TTC work. At times, this has lead to traffic backups heading into the intersection.
During the full intersection closure, nearby Douro Street and Strachan Avenue won't be affected and will remain open as detour routes for drivers. For those trying to navigate public transit along the Toronto throughway, westbound 504 King streetcars will end at Spadina and turn back east at Charlotte Loop. Replacement buses will operate between Dundas West Station and the intersection of King West and York Street.
The closure is the latest in a series of Toronto construction projects affecting major roadways across the city, and comes amidst reports of worsening traffic. A recent Toronto Starreport found that the average trip during morning rush hour -- 8-9 am -- now took 61% longer than it would have in free-flow conditions. During the evening rush hour -- 5-6 pm -- the average trip took 63% longer. Although these numbers are similar to traffic levels seen pre-pandemic, they're happening with fewer cars on the road than in 2019.
Mayor John Tory noted during a press conference earlier last month that he expected traffic levels to worsen throughout September as students returned to school and employees returned to the office. With that in mind, the City rolled out a number of anti-congestion initiatives, including reducing the number of rush hour construction exemptions that are issued.
Despite these efforts, a number of major construction projects are still ongoing, including a reduction of the westbound Lake Shore Boulevard, between Jarvis and Yonge Streets, to just one lane, which is expected to continue until Friday, October 21. College Street, from St. George Street to Spadina Avenue, is also closed until mid-November for streetcar track replacement. And the lanes around Queens Park have been reduced to accommodate elevator installation work at Museum Station.
There was also the recent major announcement from Metrolinx that the Eglinton Crosstown LRT will not finish construction this year as planned, with no new opening date laid out. An anonymous source speaking with CBC, however, said that the delay will be at least a year due to construction issues.
In addition to the City's congestion-fighting plan, other solutions have been proposed including congestion pricing, which would see drivers charged a fee for entering the downtown core.