It is touch and go whether the proposed new GO Rail Station at Mulock Drive will ever materialise.
At the last Metrolinx Board meeting on 8 March 2018 there were questions about Mulock and whether the negatives outweighed the positives. As I listened to the debate unfold the omens didn’t sound too good. The Board will make a decision on the definitive list of new rail stations by October.
The Initial Business Case (IBC) in 2016 found:
“the Mulock station supports a few of the Strategic, Financial and Economic criteria for new stations and none of the Operations and Deliverability Case criteria. These results, which include high capital costs, negative net-present value (NPV) and significant construction challenges, are largely attributed to the requirement for a rail overpass and the proximity of the rail and station lands to the East Holland Creek, a Hydro corridor and established businesses.”
For all that, there is no doubt in my own mind that Newmarket needs a new GO Rail Station at Mulock - coupled with a 15 minute service extended northwards from Aurora. This changes all the metrics.
When Newmarket Mayor, Tony Van Trappist, learned that Metrolinx was planning a new station at Mulock he told residents they should do a “happy dance”. As is his way, he then let events take their course instead of pushing mightily for the 15 minute service to be extended a couple of miles north from Aurora to Mulock.
At the 8 March Board meeting, Metrolinx abandoned grade separation which was previously deemed essential.
“The feasibility of the Mulock station concept is contingent on the grade separation of Mulock Drive, with a multi-span bridge over both the rail corridor and the East Holland River.”
Without grade separation we shall have to live with the old level crossing, slowing down traffic on one of the Town’s busiest roads.
Grade separation and the cost of doing nothing
Obviously Metrolinx cannot do grade separations all the way up the Barrie line. It would cost an arm and a leg. But doing nothing on major arterial roads like Mulock will in the long run cost more. And land will still have to be safeguarded for future grade separation as the population grows here in Newmarket and in East Gwillimbury.
I’ve asked Metrolinx when we can expect to see the results of their Review of Level Crossings. Perhaps we shall hear more about this tonight.
Back in 2016 Metrolinx said the proposed new station
“conforms to broad transportation and planning policies but does not currently align with the Town of Newmarket’s policies for where growth and higher density development should be located”
It didn’t meet the density targets for Regional Rail with only 35 to 40 people and jobs per ha within 800 m of the station. At long last the Town is now embarking on a Secondary Plan for the Mulock Area – and, inevitably, bringing in outside consultants - to see if that density can be revised substantially upwards.
The Town has got to get fired up about the Mulock Secondary Plan and sell its vision to Metrolinx who will, by October, be looking for reasons to keep Mulock in the programme – or not.
Metrolinx Open House tonight 5 April 2018
Tonight Metrolinx will be hosting an Open House on the proposed new station to get feedback from local people. It will be held at the Council Offices at 395 Mulock Drive from 6.30pm-8.30pm with a presentation at 7pm.