As we reported in October on our website and in the newsletter, the city is planning major improvements to the bus transit service along Baseline Road. The first phase will involve the eastern section of Baseline, from Woodroffe to Heron and on to Billings Bridge.
The plan calls for two bus-only lanes in the centre of the road, with fewer frequent stops. Passengers will board the bus at platform-stations built at each stop, with traffic lights to control access. The roadway will be widened to keep two lanes in each direction for cars, and add a protected bicycle lane and a sidewalk on the side. The design implements a new intersection design to shelter pedestrians and cyclists from turning vehicular traffic by increasing separation and improving visibility. The residential section of Baseline in our community, along the experimental farm, will feature a bicycle/pedestrian “multi-use pathway” on the north side. In Fisher Heights, most of the expansion for the wider roadway will be on the north side, but the plan foresees that local homes on Baseline Road would lose the city boulevard in front of their homes.
Work began on the project several years ago, and the latest plans were released last fall at a public Open House. The proposals will now be considered by the Transportation Committee of City Council in early February. Detailed design planning is anticipated in 2017 and 2018, but construction is at least several years away, and depends on additional funding from provincial and federal sources.
These are some of the details about the section that affects the Association’s residents, between Merivale Road and Fisher Avenue:
- There would be bus stops at Merivale, Farlane, Zena and Fisher. The existing bus stop at Marson Street would be removed. Bus riders who use the Marson stop would have to use the stops at Zena or Fisher instead.
- Existing accesses to Baseline Road from the community would be unchanged. The intersection with Farlane would continue to have a traffic signal; the intersections at Zena and Marson would continue to be right in, right-out.
- The project would be built within the existing right of way on the south side of Baseline; there would be no need to acquire privately owned land. However, the right of way in general extends for a certain width onto the front year grass beside the existing sidewalk on each property, and this grass would be replaced by the new sidewalk, which would occupy the last part of the existing right of way. With a bicycle lane and a narrow buffer to be built adjacent to the new sidewalk, it means the actual vehicular traffic would occupy about the same locations as now, or perhaps a small distance closer to the houses.
- The project would require seven metres of Experimental Farm land on the north side of Baseline. In addition, the Farm would use an additional 18 metres of its land to produce a ‘shelter-belt,’ a treed buffer for the adjacent farm lands and to provide a scenic backdrop for that section of Baseline. The ‘shelterbelt’ would actually start at Prince of Wales Drive and also carry on onto the east side of Merivale Road northbound. The north side of Baseline, between Prince of Wales and Merivale, would include a multiuse pathway in both directions. It would extend northbound along the east side of Merivale to the NCC pathway at Caldwell Avenue.
- The project foresees that the city will have to implement elevated snowplowing and snow removal policies along the corridor, because of the amount of extra pavement that needs to be plowed and the reduced room to store it with the addition of median bus lanes.
- The project is expected to spur development in the Triangle lands, the largely vacant lands bordered by Baseline, Clyde and Merivale.