The Brief

A city’s ability to move people effectively can propel it onto the world stage. We worked collaboratively with Metrolinx on a multi-year, multi-billion dollar expansion of Toronto’s regional transportation system ahead of the 2015 Pan American Games.

Project Overview

Thoughtful design cultivates meaningful city experiences

Whether getting to work or heading to school: efficient transportation shapes the way citizens experience cities from day to day. True, too, for international visitors looking to explore the unique qualities a locale has to offer. When Metrolinx engaged our team to expand the region’s rail transportation system ahead of the 2015 Pan American Games, we embraced this opportunity to play a part in the way folks accessed this moment-in-time event.

Focusing design around the end user’s experience is incredibly important. As we set out to design a new grade separation along Metrolinx/GO Transit’s express route between Toronto’s Pearson Airport and Union Station, we thought a lot about the people who would travel these tacks during the Games. We also considered local residents who could be impacted during the critical stages of construction. With that in mind, we set out to design two reinforced concrete railway bridges, a tieback retaining wall system, and a new precast storm tank under Denison Road. The $64.5 million undertaking represents a critical transportation link. We wanted to create something that would cultivate a positive upside for anyone travelling across Toronto—during the Games, and long after.

Construction would be complex. Each of the three-span bridges we designed would run 45 m. These extensive construction projects required crews to excavate nearly 200,000 m3 of earth in an area characterized by poor local soil and high groundwater. Adding to the complexity? A web of essential public safety measures necessary to ensure construction would be safe along the major pedestrian and cyclist thoroughfare that is Denison Road. Collaboration would prove critical to our success. We coordinated closely with Metrolinx, as well as CP Rail, CN Rail, the City of Toronto and local property owners to make sure our plans could be seamlessly executed while minimizing the impact on the neighbourhood. And it worked. By baking special considerations into our designs and modifying concepts to drive careful sequencing, we enabled bridge construction to be completed earlier than anticipated.

Looking forward, the grade separation now denotes railway traffic from motorist and pedestrian flow, improving public safety. Our designs have fuelled a critical transit link that provides a protected rail corridor, reducing time and improving the overall GO Transit experience to this day. This project will continue to have a meaningful impact on Toronto’s visitors and citizens for many years to come.