New LRT plan would cut Eglinton tunneling Jan 2012
Paula Wallis, TunnelTalk
- Looking to do more with less, there is movement afoot in Toronto to scale back the underground works on the proposed Eglinton Light Rail Line to free up funds for other transit projects.
Fig 1. Proposed transit plan with Eglinton line (blue), bus line (orange) and Sheppard Subway extension (red)
- Instead of tunneling the entire 17.5km (10.9 mile) length of the Eglinton Crosstown Line, the new plan would have the line surface east of Laid Dr and run above ground to Kennedy. The proposal would save as much as CAN$2 billion for other projects, enabling a start to construction of the proposed Sheppard Subway extension and the implementation of a new bus line along Finch Avenue in the city's under-served northwest (Fig 1).
- The new development comes just as tender documents for the first 6.75km (4.1 mile) tunnel segment from Black Creek to Yonge Street are expected to hit the street, with the other two contract tenders to follow later this year.
- Project owner Metrolinx has on order four new EPBMs from Caterpillar Tunnelling Canada Corporation to excavate the 5.75m (18.8ft) i.d. twin-running tunnels. Metrolinx is also procuring the concrete lining segments.
- The new proposal could delay the tender schedule for Eglinton, or worse, replace one or more of the tunneling contracts with a surface option. The proposal by Toronto Transit Commission Chair Karen Stintz is gaining traction with several councillors who have voiced support for the plan.
- Stintz said: "I think this compromise plan will help get Sheppard built, which is a priority for the Mayor. As soon as the tunnelling machines are done at the Yonge-University-Spadina Subway extension we can move them over to Sheppard. I expect that could happen as early as the end of next year."
- The new proposal is a reversal of sorts to the old Transit City plan that foresaw only the central portion of the line being underground. When Mayor Rob Ford came to office in 2010 one of his first actions was to draw up a new transit plan that placed the entire line underground. While not commenting on the new proposal, Mayor Ford has remained committed to his goal of keeping all transit off the city's streets. However, he has also championed the extension of the Sheppard Subway, and the compromise would jump-start that project by extending the subway east from Don Mills to a new stop at Victoria Park at a cost of about CAN$1 billion.
Fig 2. Spadina Subway Extension
- Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has expressed a willingness to consider changes to the Eglinton line if a formal proposal is put forward by the City. Until that happens, he said, the Province remains committed to the terms of the existing agreement reached last Spring. Under the agreement, the Provincial transit agency Metrolinx agreed to build the $8.2 billion line entirely below ground, while Mayor Ford agreed to look elsewhere for Sheppard Subway extension funding.
- But support is growing for the new proposal, which would move three transit projects into construction using exiting funds. Stintz believes a majority of councillors support the new plan and she believes they would approve the measure if it goes to a vote in the next month or two.
- Meanwhile excavation progresses on the Toronto-York Spadina Subway extension. Three of the four Caperpillar TBMs are now tunneling. On the Southern Tunnels Contract, TMB Holey has completed more than half of its first drive from Sheppard West Station north to Finch West Station (Fig 2). As of Wednesday (25 January) it had completed 885m (2,904ft) of its 1,565m (5134ft) drive following launch late last Summer. It is expected to break the headwall at Finch West Station extraction shaft in late February/early March.
- TBM Moley is excavating the twin tunnel some distance behind. Once complete the TBMs will be relaunched for their second drives south to the current terminus at Downsview Station. Aecon, with tunneling partners McNally Construction and Kiewit Construction, holds the CAN$279 million Southern Tunnels Contract.
- TBM excavation was delayed on the 6km (3.7 mile) Northern Tunnels Contract after a drill rig collapsed and killed a worker during preparatory excavation for the new subway station at York University in October last year. The station construction is part of the CAN$404.5 million contract held by the joint venture of Spanish-based construction and engineering firms Obrascón Huarte Lain (OHL) and FCC Construcción. TMB Yorkie has resumed its drive after a two month delay following its launch in early Fall. In December crews remobilized to the University Station site to continue the construction of a compensation grouting shaft to protect nearby buildings in advance of the TBM's arrival. The fourth TBM, Torkie, has not yet commenced drilling activities. It is still under assembly in the launch shaft and is expected to launch in the coming days.
- The Spadina Line extension is expected to open to the public late 2015.
Tender schedule for the 17.5km Crosstown LRT for the Toronto Metro, Canada - TunnelTalk, Procurement
Tunneling to commence in Toronto - TunnelTalk, May 2011
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