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Union Station platform extension gets go-ahead after years of delay

$90-million project to be completed by 2011



A long-promised subway platform expansion at Union Station is now in view for squished transit commuters.

But before subway riders breathe out in relief, they will have to breathe in to make way for construction activity over the next five years.

The Toronto Transit Commission promises to carry out the $90-million project — complete with a second subway platform by 2011 and a relocated major sewer line — while commuters continue to use the station.

Most of the construction work will be carried out after 7 p.m. and before 6 a.m., when ridership is low, compared with rush hour.

Still, construction-related detours will be unavoidable at the station, the busiest transportation hub in the country, as the TTC opens new pedestrian arteries to connect to the Harbourfront streetcar line and the PATH system to downtown. Automobile traffic on Front and Bay streets will also face restrictions.

The project was officially launched yesterday by representatives of the three levels of government — Toronto Mayor David Miller, Treasury Board President John Baird and Ontario Infrastructure Minister David Caplan — under a long-term commitment made in 2001 to renew the waterfront.

Construction of a second subway platform to serve the overcrowded Yonge line was first proposed in 2002 and was to have been completed in 2008.

Now, construction will not begin until 2008, once the east-west sewer line under Front Street is relocated to make room for the new platform.

The original platform, built in 1954 to handle 25,000 passengers a day, now serves 75,000.

Meanwhile, the TTC will redesign its ticket concourse so that GO Transit commuters no longer have to pass through it to get to their destination.