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City funds to shorten timeline for Relief Line, Mayor Tory says

John Tory at Pape Station.jpg

Mayor John Tory speaks to TTC staff at Pape Station, Thursday, January 17. Image: @johntory

Toronto Mayor John Tory journeyed to the TTC’s Pape Station Thursday, January 17 to announce a plan to shorten the timeline for construction of the Relief Line subway, linking Pape with Queen and Osgoode stations.

The plan would allow the southern part of the line to open two years earlier — in 2029, instead of 2031.

Chris Fox explains in a post on the CP24 website:

“Mayor John Tory has announced a $325 million plan to accelerate construction of the southern portion of the relief line…

“Tory told reporters at Pape Station on Thursday morning that the investment would go towards the cost of speeding up planning and design work and property acquisitions along the route as well as allow the TTC to begin work on acquiring the equipment needed for construction, such as tunnel boring machines.

“He said that staff have told him that by doing much of the planning work now, the target completion date of the relief line can be moved up two years to sometime in 2029.

“In order to move ahead with the work, though, both the TTC board and city council will have to sign off on an additional $162 million in capital costs in 2019. Approval will also be required for another $163 million in additional costs in 2020, according to a TTC spokesperson.

“‘Instead of taking the approach that has been taken in the past where you did everything in sequence we will be doing things in parallel now,’ Tory said. ‘Normally until you reach the 30 per cent design stage you wouldn’t be proceeding with land acquisition, getting boring machines and utility relocates but we are going to move ahead with that work now on the theory that we know we have to build the relief line.’”

Relief Line approved alignment.png

According to the Toronto Star’s transportation writer, Ben Spurr,

“The TTC said that [the $325 million] is money that would have been spent on the project anyway and doesn’t represent an increase to its budget.

“‘I know while the date that we’re talking about here in the late 2020s still sounds far away, the bottom line is that the faster you get on with these projects and everything you can do to speed them up, the sooner people are going to be able to ride on that transit, the sooner we’re going to have real relief that people have talked about for decades,’ [Tory] said…

“He said ideally, the provincial and federal governments would share in the cost of accelerating the project.

“The first phase of the relief line… is considered critical to relieving crowding pressure on the existing network. Early estimates indicate the 7-kilometre line would cost at least $6.8 billion.

“Although the federal and provincial governments have announced almost $9 billion combined to fund Toronto’s priority transit projects over the next decade, as of yet no level of government has formally allocated money to the construction of the relief line.”

You can read the TTC staff report about the TTC’s 15-year capital investment plan and 2019 to 2028 capital budget here (.pdf).

The Toronto Transit Commission will consider the report and its recommendations during its meeting this Thursday, January 24.

City Council will review — reject, revise or approve — the TTC’s operating and capital budget recommendations and the entire City of Toronto budget for 2019, during its meeting in February.