Suicide barriers, wider sidewalks coming to eastern Toronto bridge

Feb 17 2022, 4:40 pm

A bridge in the east end of Toronto is gearing up for some major changes, including the addition of suicide barriers, wider sidewalks and bike lanes.

The City of Toronto released details of the planned Overlea Boulevard renewal project this week, with its sights set on revamping the roadway between Don Mills Road and Thorncliffe Park Drive. According to the City, they have been “studying ways to make it safer, more pleasant, and efficient.”

The Overlea Bridge, running across the Don River, will see some of the biggest changes in the renewal project. Local residents have long advocated for upgrades to the bridge, with its narrow sidewalks and lack of bike lanes causing concerns. In fact, just last year, Grade 12 students from the local Marc Garneau Collegiate presented plans to City Hall for what they would like to see there. According to a Toronto Star article, however, they were met with a “get-off-my-lawn tone” from councillors and told to “send your plans over to your financial literacy class.”

But the City appears to have now taken their request for safer walking and cycling conditions seriously and are planning to widen the bridge’s sidewalks to 2.5 metres and add in a bike lane in both directions. The outer vehicle lanes will be dedicated HOV lanes in both directions, with other traffic travelling on the innermost lanes.

toronto bridge suicide barriers

City of Toronto

On the sides of the bridge, there will be three-metre-high suicide barriers installed. Similar barriers were installed on the Bloor Street Viaduct in 2003 when it was, at the time, the bridge with the second-highest number of suicides in North America. An 11-year study [conducted] after the barriers were installed on the bridge found that the number of suicide-by-jumping deaths decreased in Toronto “with no associated increase in suicide by other means.”

New lighting will go on both the north and south sides of the bridge.

City of Toronto

The extended sidewalks and new bike lanes will continue throughout the rest of the street. The City is also planning to add a tree-filled median to the roadway, with possible tree-lined medians between the sidewalks and bike lanes, although that decision has not yet been finalized.

toronto bridge suicide barriers

City of Toronto

More minor upgrades would be made to all intersections including renewing pavement markings and timing traffic signals to improve road use and safety.

Laura HanrahanLaura Hanrahan

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