2019/09/01 – ION

Good morning. Forecast looks dreary and it’s starting to spit for my first walk in Waterloo Region. I’ll be following the route of the ION LRT, north from Fairview Station. Let’s check it out.

Long segregated stretch. Speed limit is 70 at one point, but not sure the train went that fast. The route shares a hydro corridor, but looks like it was buried until Courtland. The LRT then goes streetside to Block Line station, quite a distance from Fairway.

Railfanning in parallel. But then an example planning for one mode of transportation and not taking the opportunity to accommodate another. No parallel mid-block trail from Hayward to Ottawa. Conestoga Expressway and Overland/Ardelt remain barriers to active transport.

Resuming my pursuit of the ION at Ottawa. This is where northbound and southbound split, and a trail begins. The southbound sticks parallel to a freight line, before turning northeast along Borden. The overgrown trail continues north after sketchily crossing the track.

The north and south come together again at Borden station, and the route heads for downtown Kitchener. Splits yet again at Benton, and I will stick with the southbound.

Lovely to see the LRT cruising through local heritage and fine-grained business in a downtown core. Can’t help getting a sinking feeling about the lack of integration with Charles Street Terminal.

Central Station, which will only live up to its name when GO and VIA trains are shifted west from the current railway station. The K-W Strip to the north is an area in flux. Entering Waterloo now, the street lamps just got fancier.

Uptown Waterloo. The route splits again, and this time I follow the northbound. Through the town square, until both directions merge again at Erb. Not only that, but the ION becomes part of the Waterloo Spur, a heavy rail line between downtown Kitchener and St Jacob’s.

Waterloo Park to Laurier. This is how you do it. A green corridor with sufficient trail space in parallel, flanked by high-density development.

UW campus. Lots of pedestrian crossings, very smart. North of the University station, there’s lots of parking lots, and buildings are sprawled out. Quite deadsville around R&T station, not so smart.

Long slog north, zigzagging to follow the ION. Biggest barrier is the maintenance facility. Eventually you get to Northfield station, where the Waterloo Spur splits back off of the ION tracks to continue north, and the LRT turns east to the final stop.

Across the freeway, and hooking south to get to the mall. This marks the end of today’s walk.

Date: September 1, 2019
Length: 18.1 km
Type: Railway / Highway

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