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Make Sheppard tunnel a light-rail line, expert says

Posted: January 29, 2008, 9:07 PM by Kelly Grant
Hall Monitor

The TTC should convert the underused Sheppard subway line into a tunnel for a single light-rail line running from Downsview to East Scarborough, a new study says.

Transportation expert Richard Soberman, a former chairman of civil engineering at the University of Toronto, argued in a report released yesterday that a continuous link across Sheppard Avenue is a glaring omission in Transit City, Toronto’s long-term transit blueprint, and MoveOntario 2020, the province’s transit plan for greater Toronto and Hamilton.

“I believe and others believe, as well, that one of the missing links that’s not included in any of these plans is a connection between the Spadina subway and the Yonge subway from Downsview to Yonge and Sheppard,” Mr. Soberman said. “From the standpoint of regional mobility it would be nice to have a continuing service from Scarborough.”

While he admitted there would be some engineering challenges to converting the Sheppard subway into a light-rail tunnel, Mr. Soberman said it could and should be done.

But Councillor Adam Giambrone, the chairman of the TTC, said the idea is not on the city’s radar.

“I don’t think people up in the Sheppard area would be happy to have that happen and we’re not seriously considering it,” he said.

Mr. Soberman’s report, which was commissioned by a construction lobby group, also backs region-wide road tolls, suggests funding for transit be legislated to prevent changes in government from killing transit projects and concludes politicians are driving transit decisions that should be left to staff experts.