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Metrolinx approves construction schedule
for building four Toronto light rail transit lines


Thanks to Cameron MacLeod of CodeRedTO for the map.

At its meeting today, the Metrolinx Board of Directors approved a schedule for building four light rail transit lines in Toronto.

The plan basically echoes the former Transit City network of LRTs, which, originally, former Mayor David Miller supported. Current Mayor Rob Ford famously declared that “Transit City’s over” on his first day in office, December 1, 2010, effectively killing all work on light rail lines in the City for nearly 18 months. Although the Mayor supported building subways instead of LRT lines, last month, Toronto City Council refused to support the mayor’s plans, reviving light rail, instead.

The board approved:

  • continuing work to build the Eglinton - Scarborough Crosstown line — underground between Black Creek and Laird Drives and on the street elsewhere. (Line opens in 2020.)
  • converting the Scarborough RT to LRT and extending the line to Sheppard Avenue East. (Line closes 2015; reopens 2019.)
  • building the Sheppard East line. (Construction starts in 2014 and the line opens in 2018.)
  • building the Finch West line. (Construction starts in 2015 and the line opens in 2018.)

Metrolinx intends to work with the TTC on the projects but also hopes that private-sector organizations would participate in building, maintaining and operating the various lines.

Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown

The line stretches through 11 kilometers of tunnel below Eglinton Avenue between Black Creek and Laird Drives, then extends further west and east on the surface of the roadway. The entire line stretches 19 kilometres between Jane Street and Kennedy Station on the TTC’s 2 Bloor - Danforth subway.

Although work has already started on this project the work won’t end until 2020. Metrolinx and the TTC have already

  • dug out a shaft near Black Creek, where tunneling will begin;
  • designed the west tunnel between Black Creek Drive and Yonge Street;
  • started designing seven stations between Black Creek Drive and Yonge Street;
  • held public consultation events for Bathurst Station, Dufferin Station, Eglinton West (Allen) and Keele Stations — another event for Chaplin Station takes place tonight;
  • bought property for a vehicle maintenance and storage facility, which Kodak formerly owned;
  • conducted extensive geotechnical testing and investigation work;
  • ordered the tunnel liners;
  • ordered the tunnel boring machines; and
  • ordered the light rail vehicles.

Metrolinx previously estimated the budget for the line at $4.9 billion in 2010 dollars. Staff will have to review these costs to reflect any changes to the scope of the project, including an option to build “a grade separation” overpass through the Black Creek area. Staff plan to report back to the board of directors at the June meeting on how they propose to align the LRT in the Black Creek area and on plans for the western terminus.

Scarborough RT to Sheppard Avenue East

This project involves replacing the current ART (advanced rapid transit) trains with LRTs extending the line from McCowan Station to Sheppard Avenue East.

The length of the line is 9.9 kilometres and it likely will carry about 10,000 passengers every hour in each direction. The Transit City plan included a construction schedule for this line of from 2015 until 2020. This schedule allows for the current Scarborough RT to continue operating during the PanAm / ParapanAm Games in the summer of 2015, after which service would end for construction.

Metrolinx and its partners would finish planning, designing and engineering the project before starting construction to reduce “down time” along the line. (The TTC plans to operate express buses between Scarborough Centre and Kennedy, while the line is closed.) The new plan will move up the date for finishing the entire project from 2020 to 2019. Metrolinx and its partners accomplished this by starting work on extending the line between McCowan and Sheppard as a first phase, allowing the current service to continue until after the Pan Am / Parapan Games.

Metrolinx estimated the budget for this line at $1.8 billion in 2010 dollars.

Sheppard East

This project is a new LRT line from Don Mills station on the 4 Sheppard subway to Morningside Avenue, a distance of 12 kilometres. Metrolinx staff forecasted ridership in 2031 as 3,000 passengers every hour in each direction.

Metrolinx and the TTC are currently finishing work on building an overpass to carry Sheppard Avenue East across GO Transit’s 71 Stouffville line near Agincourt GO Station.

Metrolinx has also bought property near Sheppard Avenue East and Conlins Road for a maintenance and storage facility to serve both the extended Scarborough RT and the Sheppard East line. Contractors have finished relocating underground utilities and preparing the site for construction. The original plan included a construction schedule from 2010 until 2014. Except for building the Agincourt grade separation and grading of the Conlins yard site, no work has progressed on this project for more than a year. The target date for operating this line is now 2018.

Staff estimated the budget for the project at $950 million in 2010 dollars, with the Government of Canada contributing one-third of the cost.

Finch West

The original plan called for the Etobicoke - Finch West LRT project to proceed in the 2015 to 2020 period. The project is a new LRT line from the future Finch West station on the TTC’s 1 Yonge - University - Spadina subway to Humber College, a distance of 11 kilometres. Metrolinx forecasts the number of riders using the line in 2031 to be 2,800 every hour in each direction.

It expects to finish the project in 2019.

In its background report and presentation, Metrolinx refers to extending the Scarborough RT to Sheppard and building the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown project as separate projects, however, they’ll likely be a single line. Also the map that Metrolinx uses to illustrate the work plan indicates that both the Sheppard East LRT and the Scarborough RT would serve the east end of Sheppard Avenue to Morningside, which is new for this version of the LRT plan.

You can read the staff report here. (.pdf)

You can view the staff presentation here. (.pdf) 2012425-metrolinx-lrt-plan-toronto.jpg