WATERLOO REGION — The new LRT route to downtown Cambridge would snake for 18 kilometres, across two rivers, through established neighbourhoods and busy commercial areas.
The region released a detailed description of the proposed route into Cambridge as part of its Transit Project Assessment, a key step in getting provincial approval (and funding). People can download documents about the route and its impacts at engagewr.ca/Stage2ION, and comment on the draft document until Feb. 12.
Stage 2 will replace the ION bus service between Fairway and downtown Cambridge. If the project is approved and funded, it likely wouldn’t open until at least 2032.
Eight stations — far fewer than the 19 in Stage 1 — dot the line to downtown Cambridge. The route aims to encourage people to walk and cycle to the LRT, with sidewalks on both sides of roads and improved cycling infrastructure and trails. Areas around the stations are slated for more intense development.
The report divides the route into five sections:
Kitchener North – The route begins at Fairway Station in Kitchener, where elevated track would take trains over the Fairview Park mall parking lot, across Fairway Road and the CN rail tracks.
The LRT would then run in the centre median of the planned River Road extension, skirting environmentally sensitive land in Hidden Valley. At King Street, tracks head south, parallel to Highway 8, with two sections of elevated track.
Just north of the Grand River, tracks must cut into the hill, with an extensive retaining wall running for about 200 metres next to the tracks.
The Ion would cross the Grand on its own bridge just downstream from the highway. The elevated tracks would parallel the highway, bringing trains over the highway off-ramp to the centre median of King Street.
Kitchener South – Key roads in this section will be rebuilt as part of non-LRT projects. Work on King Street from the Freeport Bridge to Highway 401 is planned to start this year. The rebuilt road will accommodate the LRT in the centre median.
The province also plans to widen the 401 at King and replace the bridges over King Street. If that work happens after the LRT is built, it could temporarily suspend LRT service.
The first new station on the line is Sportsworld Station at King Street and Sportsworld Crossing Road. It’s close to a Park and Ride bus terminal, where people can catch intercity buses.
North Cambridge – Another stretch of elevated track takes trains down steep Shantz Hill Road at a gentler slope than the road. Traffic will drive beneath the raised tracks, which continue across the Speed River. At Chopin Drive and Queenston Road, trains cross Chopin into Preston station, which stretches diagonally across the block to King and Eagle streets.
Past the station, trains cross King and run between Eagle and the river. They rise on two more bits of elevated track over rail lines, running off-road along a rail right-of-way.
Eagle Street south of King will become a single-lane, one-way street, with traffic flowing south.
Central Cambridge – North of Eagle Street, the LRT will run next to CN tracks to Hespeler Road, where trains run in the median.
Trains will prevent left turns on Hespeler except at traffic lights. Critics say this will worsen traffic on Hespeler Road, already one of the busiest roads in Cambridge. U-turns will be allowed at most traffic lights. Driveways into the area’s many retail outlets will only allow right-hand turns in and out.
Four stations dot this stretch: Pinebush south of Eagle, Cambridge Centre next to the mall and the Cambridge Centre bus station, Can-Amera station at the Can-Amera Parkway and Delta at Hespeler and Avenue Road.
South Cambridge – At Avenue Road, the LRT leaves Hespeler Road, and runs beside the CN tracks, and onto a disused rail right-of-way, through a future roundabout at Dundas and Beverley Street, along the west side of Mill Creek to Main Street.
Main Street station is at Wellington, where the train will move into the median. It continues down Bruce Street to Water Street. Between Wellington and Ainslie streets, Bruce will turn into a one-way street, with one eastbound lane, and will be closed to traffic (other than buses) from Ainslie to Water.
Downtown Cambridge station on Bruce is the southern terminus. An on-street GRT bus station would replace the Ainslie Street bus terminal.
article can also be found at TheRecord.com