The Thames Valley Corridor is one of London’s most important natural, cultural, recreational, and aesthetic resources. Located along the Thames River, the corridor is a complex system of sensitive ecological habitats, intensive public recreation areas, and developed urban lands that are interconnected by a municipal pathway system called the Thames Valley Parkway (TVP). Comprising over 40 kilometres of multi-use pathway, the TVP extends along all three branches of the Thames River and converges in the downtown core. It links to over 150 kilometres of additional city trails.
Opening up this section of the TVP has been a high priority for the City for many years, with discussions with property owners started over 10 years ago. Dillon was retained by the City of London to complete an Environmental Assessment (EA) to develop an alignment that was sensitive to the natural surroundings. Dillon was later retained to complete the design, and contract administration for the preferred pathway alignment. Information gathered during the EA was used to guide the detailed design process with consideration for the natural environment sensitivities along the North Thames River. Construction of the pathway connection was completed and opened to the public in the Fall of 2020.
The TVP - North Branch Connection project addresses a major gap in the Thames Valley Parkway between Richmond Street and Adelaide Street, connecting Ross Park to the North London Athletic Fields. The new pathway opens up the TVP to thousands of Londoners in the north east end of the City. The approximately 1.8 kilometre connection features two modified warren half-through pony truss bridges spanning the North Thames River and is fully accessible to all ages and abilities. A neighbourhood connection from North Branch Meadows to Tetherwood Boulevard provides access for maintenance and emergency vehicles to the new section of pathway north of the Thames River.
With the recreational pathway constructed through mostly undisturbed naturalized land, Dillon collaborated with the City and the Upper Thames Conservation Authority to minimize the construction footprint and ecological impacts to the local wildlife. The final alignment was meticulously established by balancing the removal of significant trees and impacts to floodplain storage. The pathway design includes very purposeful vegetation and habitat restoration along the new alignment, allowing the area to re-naturalize over time. Numerous species of thorny vegetation were incorporated to help deter people from straying from the path.
Whether actively commuting to and from the north end of the City, exercising, or out for a leisurely stroll, the North Branch Connection showcases the City’s natural heritage and offers stunning views of the North Thames River. Already well used, the meandering path with strategically placed seating areas and spacious bridge decks expands access to public open space and facilitates views of the Forest City which were previously unseen.