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Eglinton subway not in cards: Miller

But only paperwork in the way of Spadina extension, Mayor says

Natalie Alcoba, National Post
Published: Saturday, July 26, 2008

Government officials signalled yesterday that construction will soon start on the anticipated Spadina subway extension, even as the Mayor dismissed a new push to build a subway along Eglinton Avenue.

“You should build subways in extremely dense neighbourhoods where you have two-way traffic because there are offices and people living … you don’t build subways where there’s not that ridership and it’s not projected to be” along Eglinton, Mayor David Miller said yesterday. “And there isn’t the money, it’s that simple.”

Toronto’s ambitious Transit City project, which is planning for new light rail lines across the city, includes a light rail route along Eglinton that would extend from the airport to Kennedy, and run underground in a a 10-kilometre tunnel between Laird Drive and Keele Street.

But area city councillors and Metrolinx, the province’s GTA transportation agency, believe Eglinton may in fact warrant a subway. Metrolinx chairman Rob MacIsaac said the agency has not settled on the subway as the best route, but preliminary ridership results suggest it could use something more than a Light Rail Transit. The LRT is projected to cost $2.24-billion, which Mr. Miller says is about $4-billion less than the cost of a subway.

Councillor Karen Stintz (Eglinton-Lawrence) says it would be “smart and strategic” to piggyback on the Spadina extension and build a subway under Eglinton, which she insists has the “ridership potential.”

“Once we get the equipment, once we get the design, once we get the momentum, the more track you build it reduces our kilometre cost per track,” said Ms. Stintz, who attended an announcement for a new busway in the north end of the city.

Representatives from all three levels of government were at York University yesterday to boast about the new York University Busway, which will run on six kilometres of dedicated bus lanes from Downsview subway station to the university. Officials touted it as a cheaper, faster-to-complete project that will ease growing congestion in the corridor during the seven years it will take to build the subway into York Region.

The federal and provincial governments have each pitched in $9.7-million, and the city will pay $18.4-million to build the system, which is supposed to be ready in time for the 2009/2010 school year.

“A busway is an incredibly important piece of transit infrastructure. Most of this will be permanent,” said Mr. Miller, who had hoped to have it up and running by this fall.

He said only paperwork stands in the way of the Spadina extension, which appears to be set to break ground in September.

“When they’re ready to go, the Government of Canada has made its commitment. We pay on invoices for work done,” said Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who made yesterday’s busway announcement.

“Constructing subways doesn’t happen overnight,” added George Smitherman, Ontario Minister of Energy and Infrastructure. “We made a good piece of progress here today, with the bigger one to come very soon.”