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Route chosen: Now for the hard part

Planners pick a subway path to York

All that’s missing is the $1.5B to build it


A route has been chosen for the Spadina subway extension from Downsview station to York University, but there is still no money to design and build it, says Tom Middlebrook, chief engineer at the TTC.

“If money would start to flow in, we could start design soon and we could get into the ground by 2007,” Middlebrook said yesterday.

He estimates the Spadina extension would cost $1.5 billion. Last week, the federal government signed a deal giving Toronto $407.2 million in federal gas-tax cash, but Mayor David Miller said it was not enough to build a new subway line.

The favoured route, stretching from Downsview to Keele St. to Steeles Ave., was chosen from eight possibilities.

The report — phase two of the project — will be presented today to the Toronto Transit Commission by the environmental assessment study team chaired by Middlebrook. Phase one involved public consultation and route evaluation.

The extension would serve the university and the northwest corner of the city, connecting it to York Region.

The proposed route includes three stations: Sheppard West, which would connect with the GO Bradford line; Finch West, which would connect with the 36-Finch West bus route, one of the busiest in the city; and a York University station in the Commons area, the university’s current transit hub.

The route, recommended by the study team and supported by 80 per cent of those who participated in public consultations, also minimizes environmental impact and leaves open the possibility of future expansion into York Region.

In phase three, the study team will begin fine-tuning the route and decide on final station layouts.

There will be more public consultations in October. Middlebrook hopes the final report will be presented to the TTC in November and to city council in December. After that, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment has 30 weeks to decide whether to give its approval before any building can proceed. But other work could begin if the government committed funding, Middlebrook said.

The Spadina extension is one of two subway projects in the TTC’s plans. The other is the Sheppard extension, for which an environmental assessment has already been completed. However, Middlebrook said the Spadina line would probably have priority.

“There’s a lot of interest in it, and certainly there’s a compelling need from a transportation perspective,” Middlebrook said.

Meanwhile, the Toronto Waterfront Revitalization Corp. has budgeted more than $100 million to build transit lines serving the West Don Lands (running on Cherry St. south from King St.) and East Bayfront (on Queens Quay east of Union Station to Cherry), two neighbourhoods planned for the redeveloped waterfront.

At the TTC meeting today, a report will ask the commission to authorize the corporation to fund environmental assessments for those two routes, which will probably be dedicated bus or streetcar lanes, said Bill Dawson, the TTC’s superintendent of service planning.