BUILDING UNDERGROUND STATIONS FOR EGLINTON AVENUE’S CROSSTOWN TAKES SOME PRE-PLANNING

Building under one of TORONTO’s busiest streets isn’t a job for amateurs. METROLINX, the provincial transport agency, is constructing three underground transit stations (out of 22) between Yonge Street and Bayview AvenueWhat does it take to build underground rapid transit? – pile driving, excavating, shoring, installing water valves and pipes, re-directing heavy traffic, pouring concrete, laying foundations, erecting temporary bridges, re-routing Hydro lines, assembling new Hydro infrastructure, jack-hammering, building storm sewers and water shut-off valves, working all night . . . and so much more.

The CROSSTOWN, served by LRT’s, will be part of TORONTO’s subway system when it’s finished in 2021. The first phase of the 12-mile line (19 kilometres) will serve 22 stations – with the possibility of more in the future.

<RENDERING OF EGLINTON STATION – public art by Rodney LaTourelle & Louise Witthoeft, “Light from Within”>

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THE FEDERAL & PROVINCIAL GOV’TS ARE ABOUT TO INVEST HEAVILY IN TORONTO TRANSIT

<Ontario Infrastructure Minister Bob Chiarelli, (left), & Amarjeet Sohi, the federal Minister of Infrastructure & Communities; PHOTO – Carlos Osorio / Toronto Star>

<‘NEXT STOP: SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW’, editorial cartoon by BRIAN GABLE, Globe and Mail/Toronto/2017>

After years of pleading, finally the two senior governments have recognized the necessity of improving transit infrastructure in TORONTO. The city will get $4.89-billion from the federal government, and that will be matched with $4.04-billion from the province.  That’s about $9-billion altogether.

$9-billion won’t be enough to build everything on TORONTO’s wish list, but it’ll be a significant boost (covering about 75%) to priorities such as the Scarborough subway extension, Smart Track, the Line 2 subway relief connector, the Eglinton East LRT, and the Waterfront LRT.

<The light at the end of the tunnel – upcoming federal & provincial elections/2018 may have something to do with governmental largesse.  I wonder.>

METROLINX APPEARS TO BE A PROVINCIAL TRANSIT AGENCY THAT’S GETTING THINGS DONE

When it comes to public transit TORONTO is playing catch-up with other major cities and METROLINX is leading the charge.

After a second round of study the provincial agency has recommended the construction of 12 new stations for GO’s regional express rail program (the RER).

Metrolinx estimates the new stops will cost a total of $2.1-billion, but deliver benefits of $6.7-billion over a 60-year period. Six of the stations will be part of Mayor JOHN TORY’s SmartTrack plan.

Metrolinx is presently involved in turning historic Union Station into a major transit hub for the GO suburban network, VIA Rail Canada, the TTC and Amtrak. Expected completion date: 2025.

The Eglinton Crosstown LRT, with 25 stations, is well underway and will link up with 54 bus routes, 3 TTC subway stations, the UP Airport Express and the Kitchener, Barrie and Stouffville GO lines. Expected completion date: 2021.

The Finch Avenue West LRT line will connect northwest TORONTO to the subway and transit services from exurban Peel and York regions. Completion date: 2022.

For more info on Metrolinx & what it’s up tohttp://www.metrolinx.com/en/greaterregion/Default.aspx

SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME, BUT FORMER CHIEF PLANNER KEESMAAT NOW HAS 2ND THOUGHTS

The one-stop extension to TORONTO’s Line 2 subway could become a history-making white elephant for taxpayers. It was originally supposed to be a 7-stop LRT extension from Line 2’s Kennedy station to the Scarborough Town Centre – fully funded by the province.

Then the politicians got involved – former Mayor “subways, subways, subways” ROB FORD, his brother DOUG FORD, Mayor JOHN TORY and Premier KATHLEEN WYNNE, plus an assortment of city councillors.

To cool things down, then-chief planner JENNIFER KEESMAAT came up with the idea of a one-stop subway extension straight to Scarborough Town Centre.  No intermediate stops.

With potential costs rising (current estimate $3.56-billion for one stop) Ms. Keesmaat isn’t so keen on her idea anymore. She wants a financial audit before October’s municipal election. It seems an updated cost estimate for the project could be possible by September.

“There has to be a threshold. There has to be a moment where you say, wait a minute, the cost-benefit analysis no longer works . . . If they have that number available, do they have a duty to release it as a way of informing the electorate and the decision making? My opinion is, absolutely.” – Jennifer Keesmaat on CBC radio & the Toronto Star, February 8/2018

AND THE BEAT GOES ON . . .

NOT EVERYONE IS PLEASED, BUT RUSH HOUR RIDERSHIP ON THE KING STREETCARS HAS SHOT UP

The reports are in, and it appears the King Street streetcar pilot project has increased morning rush hour transit ridership by as much as 25% (a gain of 16,000 additional riders). On-street parking has been outlawed, and car drivers are forced to make right turns off King at most major intersections.

City stats show a decrease in journey times by as much as 14%.  Increased ridership of course means crowded streetcars. And some businesses along the Bathurst to Jarvis Street route are unhappy. The city is working to come up with a solution.