Today, the Margaret Ave Bridge is coming down after months of sitting closed to motor vehicle and (officially) pedestrian access.
Currently, the closest alternate crossings of the rail corridor for pedestrians only exist at Weber and St. Leger, necessitating a 800m-1000m (15 minute walking) detour for those looking to get to the other side.
When GO trait service began in Kitchener in 2011, the level crossing at Ahrens Street was closed in order to extend the Kitchener train platform. To quote the sign posted on the fence, the crossing has been "closed forever" for all uses.
Understanding that the Margaret Ave crossing will be closed until at least 2014, and given the current construction of Weber, I believe it would be pragmatic to for the City, Region, Metrolinx, and CN/Goderich Exeter to explore the possibility of re-opening pedestrian access across the rail corridor at Ahrens/Gzowski St. Such a crossing would continue to be used to access the Kitchener train station and the businesses on Victoria St from the Breithaupt/Mt. Hope neighbourhood.
The crossing would approach the rail corridor at a right angle to encourage cyclists to slow down while making the rail crossing. A precedent for this type of pedestrian crossing already exists north of Agincourt GO station in Scarborough at Marilyn Ave: http://goo.gl/maps/pe9Tr Although nice, crossing gates may not be required; static signage would probably be enough given current rail volumes.
Please feel free to circulate this email and take this idea under consideration with your staff to what is possible in the short-term given the circumstances.