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Spadina line to end in Vaughan

$2.1-billion project: York university one of six new stops by 2014

Thia James, National Post
Published: Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Two of York University’s most powerful alumni, federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and provincial Finance Minister Greg Sorbara, yesterday gave their alma mater the best gift that taxpayers’ money can buy: a new subway stop at its door.

At yesterday’s news conference at the Downsview Park hangar, the two men joined Prime Minister Stephen Harper as he pledged $697-million to extend the subway to York University and onwards into York Region. In total, the project will cost $2.1-billion.

The province of Ontario will put up $670-million, with the City of Toronto and the municipality of York contributing the rest, $400-million and about $300-million respectively.

But Adam Giambrone, chairman of the Toronto Transit Commission, said the project all hinges on the next federal budget.

“If this money is confirmed, if the budget passes ? we would begin to issue contracts, do design works of stations,” Mr. Giambrone said.

The TTC is “excited that the federal government has come through with their funding,” but he said he is concerned the Prime Minister said nothing about a national transit strategy.

The proposed extension of the Spadina line, which ends at Downsview Station, would stretch more than eight kilometres, into Vaughan.

An “ecstatic” Sandra Yeung Racco, Vaughan councillor and chairwoman of the Spadina-York subway extension committee, said Ottawa recognizes that “traffic gridlock is a problem, and we need the money to fund transit.”

“This is the last piece of the puzzle,” she said.

The extension will add six stations: Finch West, Sheppard West, York University station, Steeles West, Highway 407 Transitway and a final stop at Vaughan Corporate Centre.

The TTC, which will be responsible for the project, owns much of the land on the path of the new subway, Mr. Giambrone said, but not all of it. It will have to buy land from private owners, including peoples’ backyards, to build the extension.

“Some have yet to be arranged, but everything is in place for the Spadina extension,” he said.

The main work on the extension is to begin in late 2008 or early 2009, and will be completed by 2013 or 2014.

“We would issue tenders. Those would be public issues,” he said. “A lot of the work would be done by the TTC itself.”

The tendering process will begin this year.

The TTC said it will construct the extension by open cut, tunnelling and hand tunneling.

Open cut was the method the TTC used to build the Yonge line. The subway would still be underground, because workers will bury what they build. Tunnelling uses boring and tunnelling machines below the surface.

In sensitive areas, such as around buildings, workers will hand tunnel their way through.

The extended route is to be underground until Steeles Avenue, then would continue above ground out to Vaughan.

Although Ms. Yeung Racco said, “there’s not a whole lot” for passengers to see, “certainly, [it] will help land developers and land owners in that area.” They would begin to focus on building something “nice” there because of the subway, she predicted.

The stop at York University would be roughly at the centre of the campus, Mr. Giambrone said. It would be close to the transit circle, where the buses unload and pick up students.

The subway will relieve some of the heavy bus traffic from the campus. “We have almost 800 TTC buses coming,” said Alex Bityk, a spokesman for York University.

“This is great for the whole region,” he said. “It will help to alleviate congestion in the northwest corridor of the city.”