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Most level crossings in Newmarket to disappear as part of all-day two-way GO train program

Huge multi-million dollar construction projects to eliminate level crossings in Newmarket are flagged up in a report going to York Region councillors tomorrow (10 September).

The report gives background to a presentation by Metrolinx on the Regional Express Rail program which will see all-day two-way trains on the Barrie corridor.

The Barrie rail corridor has 25 level crossings; 13 of which cross regional roads and 12 cross local roads. The staff report says:

“The planned increase in rail and vehicle traffic will trigger the need for grade separations on all existing level crossings between Regional Roads and GO rail corridors.”

Transport Canada guidelines stipulate that grade separations are warranted where the so-called “exposure index” exceeds 200, 000. (The index simply multiplies daily road vehicle traffic with daily train traffic.)

Attachment 2 to the report gives the figures for all level crossings on the Barrie line.

The figures for Newmarket and East Gwillimbury show a huge increase in traffic in the near term (within the next decade) which underlines the need for grade separation.                                  

Location index at  present index at 2021    index at 2025
Mulock Drive (regional rd)         458,400          531,600          1,371,000
Water Street (Nwkt road)          143,760         158,160             409,800
Timothy Street (Nwkt rd)            23,400           25,680                 66,600
Davis Drive (regional rd)          396,000          459,600            1,156,200
Green Lane (regional road)         464,400          538,800          1,373,400

The report says that with grade separation “there is no longer the need to sound the train whistle”. However, “not all existing crossings will be grade separated as part of the Regional Express Rail program".

Earlier this year, Newmarket Aurora MPP Chris Ballard, said the 15 minute GO train service would only run from Union Station to Aurora. Newmarket would lose out because of the need to do the grade separations and this would take time.

The fictional Mulock Drive GO Rail Station

The staff report also looks at existing and new GO stations on the Barrie line. The recently adopted Newmarket Secondary Plan has a new station penciled in at Mulock Drive but this has been ignored by regional staff who are prioritizing Concord (Highway 7); Kirby Road/Keele Street and 15th Sideroad/Bathurst Street.

There was no debate about the proposed Mulock Road GO station as the Newmarket Secondary Plan went through its zillion iterations. I took the view it was a figment of Planning Director Rick Nethery’s fevered imagination – especially when Metrolinx told me they had no plans for a station at this location. In the end, the Mulock Drive station was nodded through by weary councillors, desperate to put the Secondary Plan behind them.

It will be interesting to see if Tony Van Bynen and John Taylor make the case for prioritizing Mulock Drive or if they simply let it go.

I suspect the latter.

Metrolinx has been invited to give a presentation to Newmarket councillors in the Fall.

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