London

Drivers celebrate the end of Adelaide St. train traffic jam as underpass opens Friday

The long-awaited Adelaide Street underpass officially opens to traffic starting today, and London drivers say they're looking forward to travelling along the bottleneck without train interruptions. Starting at 10 a.m. the City of London will open one northbound and one southbound lane below the underpass, and a sidewalk will open to pedestrians and cyclists later in the afternoon.  

One northbound and southbound lane will open to drivers Friday at 10 a.m.

The Adelaide Underpass is getting ready to open up to vehicles on Friday morning. Drivers will be able to use one northbound and one southbound lane to travel on the traffic bottleneck.
The Adelaide Underpass is getting ready to open up to vehicles on Friday morning. Drivers will be able to use one northbound and one southbound lane to travel on the traffic bottleneck. (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

The long-awaited Adelaide Street underpass officially opens to traffic today, bringing relief to London drivers who feel they've lost years of their life stuck waiting for the train to pass on the busy road.  

Starting at 10 a.m., the City of London will open one northbound and one southbound lane for drivers and a sidewalk will open to pedestrians and cyclists later in the afternoon.  

The underpass' opening brings lots of excitement to Seif Hassan, a full-time taxi driver who spends a lot of time in the area everyday. On some days, he gets stuck for more than 15 minutes waiting for a train to pass and it affects his business, Hassan said. 

"This is very good news for me and I'm happy to hear that I can pass. No train, no headache and that's all I need," he said.

Taxi driver, Seif Hassan says the Adelaide Underpass's opening is good news for traffic. He says waiting for the train the cross can take upwards of 15 minutes and sometimes it  causes him to lose business.
Taxi driver Seif Hassan says the Adelaide underpass opening is good news for traffic. Waiting for the train can take more than 15 minutes and sometimes it causes him to lose business. (Isha Bhargava/CBC)

"Sometimes I can lose a call because if a customer is in a rush or it's raining and another driver is nearby when I'm stuck by the train, I have no way to turn around because there may be cars behind me. By the time I wait for the train, customers jump into another cab."

The $87-million construction project started in 2022 and was on the city's wish list for decades, said Jennie Dann, the city's director of construction and infrastructure services. Federal and provincial funding covered $11 million of the cost, while the city paid for the rest.

The train track runs into the CP Rail shunting yard, which often leads to train cars stopping, reversing, and blocking traffic. CP Rail did not contribute to the cost of the underpass. 

A 'huge relief' to Londoners

About 24,000 vehicles travel on Adelaide Street per day, and the new underpass will eliminate them having to cross the railway track that leads into the shunting yard, said Dann. 

"We know that Adelaide can be a particularly frustrating road crossing for Londoners. It's very near to the shunting yards, so sometimes you see trains move and stop and go the other direction," she said. 

"For other crossings in the city, trains are on their way, they move through pretty quickly but the interruptions here can be quite long, so this is going to be a huge relief to Londoners."

Western University student Zoha Raza drives along Adelaide Street often. Although traffic during construction has been challenging, she's looking forward experiencing fewer delays on the road, she said. 

"I think it'll make traffic smoother. There's a lot of construction, which is a good thing because the city is improving the roads, but that's really slowing things down," said Raza. 

"I'm really excited, I think that'll be really nice. There are a lot of us who have to work everyday and are caught up in traffic at the wrong time and it can take up to 15 or 20 minutes at time, which is kind of ridiculous." 

Want to be the first to go under it?

Crews will briefly stop traffic around 10 a.m. and close the temporary bypass road, and a construction vehicle with flashing lights will lead traffic under the underpass. They will start with the southbound lane, followed by the northbound lane, said Dann. 

Traffic is still reduced to one lane in each direction and drivers are urged to use caution. Signs will be posted under the rail crossing to direct cyclists and pedestrians.   

The underpass will eventually have paths for cyclists and pedestrians, but cyclists are encouraged to get off their bikes while using the west sidewalk until crews finish work on them.

All four lanes of the underpass will open later this summer and the entire project is expected to be completed by August 2025. 

A prototype of what the Adelaide underpass facing southbound traffic will look like once it's complete.
A rendering of what the Adelaide underpass facing southbound traffic will look like once it's complete. (City of London )

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Isha Bhargava is a multiplatform reporter for CBC News and has worked for Ontario newsrooms in Toronto and London. She loves telling current affairs and human interest stories. You can reach her at isha.bhargava@cbc.ca