Monday, March 19, 2012

Somerset Street Reconstruction Part 6: Poles and signals

Here's part 6 of the 15-part series on the reconstruction of Somerset Street West. In the previous part, we looked at the reconstruction of the roadway along Somerset between Booth and Preston. This time, we'll take a look at the traffic signals and hydro poles in the same stretch.

You'll note that the longer posts are now shortened on the summary pages. You can read more about that here.

Most of the photos in this post were taken in the winter, after Eric Darwin pointed out some concerns with the traffic signal pole design on his blog, West Side Action. I took this one, showing a carefully choreographed dance between two cherry pickers at Somerset and LeBreton, in mid-February.

Even though this is a couple of blocks east of the project limits at Booth Street, it looks like the opportunity was taken to replace some of the other streetposts that had been chipped away by years of snowplows edging past.

Here across from Upper Lorne Place, between 760 Somerset and Pho Bo Ga La, old and new wooden posts stand side-by-side. Some of the signs have been transferred over to the new post, one of which is pretty close to the red Chinatown lantern.

These hydro poles are tall. The new one on the far right towers over the 4-storey building here at the corner of Somerset and Rochester, and must go some distance into the ground, too.

The posts for the new traffic signals, meanwhile, are being installed in different locations than the old ones. The headless new poles can be seen alongside the old ones here.

As Eric mentioned in his January post on West Side Action, the new poles are right smack in the middle of the sightline looking down the sidewalk, making the corridor look somewhat constrained. This is on the North side of Somerset at the intersection of Rochester.

Once the heads have been installed on the new signal posts, the old ones are removed. The power is cut to the entire intersection and many trucks work to get this done as swiftly as possible, while a police officer directs the light afternoon traffic.

With the old posts removed, the sidewalk doesn't look as constrained at the corners. There is much more room between the post and the building, even if the view down the sidewalk is still blocked. (Blind people will have no trouble finding them!)

We're told that the new post location is to make the buttons easier to access for people in wheelchairs; let's hope they're right. The sidewalk plows will have to go streetside to the posts, even though there's now a nice clear path on the building side of them. It'll be interesting to see how the crosswalks (and the depressed curbs leading to them) line up, or fail to line up, with the sidewalks.

For all the complaining about the new signal locations, Sang Value Mart now has much more clearance to their entrance. The old post was where the orange pylon is now, right in front of their door!

The old signal heads and posts were taken away in a truck. I don't know exactly what is done with them, but I presume they're re-used in some way or another. It's still stunning to see these things close up. Compare the signal head to the size of the license plate on the truck. As I remarked in the tour of the City's Traffic Operations Division building, traffic signals look so much bigger close up.

That's it for part 6 of the series. While you're waiting for part 7: trees and bike racks, why not check out the previous posts in the 15-part series.

1 comment:

  1. One thing I don't understand about Centretown is all the wooden poles everywhere. When I moved into the city from the country, I expected the wiring to be underground. I find it makes the city look really behind the times.