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Noisy subway project near end after 18 months

Unforeseen difficulties: Jackhammers and traffic congestion upset Annex dwellers

Shannon Kari
National Post

A TTC construction project that has inconvenienced thousands of residents who live near a busy intersection in the Annex is finally near completion, 18 months after it began and more than six months after it was supposed to finish.

The second underground exit from the Spadina subway station is being built on Walmer Road, just west of the main entrance at Bloor and Spadina, as part of a required safety upgrade.

Construction began in close proximity to four high-rise apartments and many local businesses in the fall of 1998. Since then, residents and store owners have had to deal with noise from the site, traffic limited to one lane and reduced parking. One resident, Cindy, said there was a long period recently when the neighbourhood was filled with the sound of jackhammers.

“It would start at 7 a.m. and it was pretty intense,” she said.

Bob Andstein, the building manager of a high-rise that has had its main entrance obstructed by the site, said his tenants regularly ask him, “When is it going to be finished, Bob?”

Mr. Andstein said the space taken up by the construction work also causes traffic problems when trucks making deliveries to a busy drug store next door are forced to park on Bloor Street.

While Mr. Andstein praised the efforts of the foreman of the project for keeping him informed, he said the TTC has only gone so far as dropping off flyers and has never apologized for the delays.

“We’re just as frustrated,” replied Tom Middlebrook, a chief engineer at the TTC.

Mr. Middlebrook said unexpected difficulties in relocating utilities in the area had caused some of the delays in the $3.3-million project, which was supposed to be completed last fall. The problems also added about $400,000 to the total cost.

But he added that the commission is disappointed with the pace of the work by Dineen Construction.

“We feel the contractor has not worked expeditiously,” Mr. Middlebrook said.

Bill Love, vice-president of Dineen, said the delays were unavoidable because “we got into site conditions that were pretty tough.”

He said the Bloor-Spadina area is very congested underground, which resulted in complications that could not be predicted in advance.

“Because it was mostly underground, it looked like nothing was happening,” he added. Yet much of the construction was far enough below ground to be compared to mine conditions, an exasperated sounding Mr. Love explained.

The construction has lasted so long that Cindy said she is now more amused than angry at the delays.

Still, she asked, “How can it take so long to build a subway entrance?”

Not much longer, according to Mr. Love.

He said Dineen expects to complete its work in May and he hopes that people will then forget about the delays and admire “a great looking station.”




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