Construction work for the implementation of the City’s Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel (CSST) is going to result in a lengthy closure of Cumberland Street (between Wilbrod and Stewart) in 2019. In late 2018/early 2019 the underground tunnelling machine for this project will make its way southward from Lowertown under Cumberland Street into Sandy Hill, then curve westward under the lawn of Tabaret Hall and then along Laurier under the canal. In the middle of Cumberland Street between Wilbrod and Stewart a three metre diameter, 5-6 story deep access shaft will be drilled out to connect to the tunnel. This is roughly the mid-point of this east-west CSST tunnel and will be used to occasionally access the tunnel for maintenance purposes. The construction period for this access shaft will go on for many months and during this period all north-south vehicular movement on this block of Cumberland will be cut off. Pedestrian and cycling connectivity through the block will be maintained.
A lot of traffic uses this block of Cumberland today so there will be some displacement of traffic to adjacent streets. Area residents/UofO employees will be forced to use alternative routes for some of their comings and goings. Fortunately some of the other detours currently in this area due to the LRT construction/bus detours should be reversed prior to this CSST construction project. For example, the current detours that should be unwound first include the prohibited northbound right turn from Laurier to Cumberland during the afternoon peaks and the no eastbound right turn from Nicholas to Laurier.
Whenever a street is significantly affected by construction an opportunity is created to change the design of the street for its reinstatement. Some consultations have started with the City and nearby residents about possible options for this single block of Cumberland. These involve narrowing the distance between the curbs of the street and implementing a raised cycle track in the southbound direction together with an on-street bike lane in the northbound direction (this section of Cumberland is part of the main east-west bikeway route). Other opportunities to also be explored are slight additions to the sidewalk width and designing in some more space for greenery. The evolution of the streets in Sandy Hill is gradually moving forward.