Eglinton West Extension LRT moves forward with new contract

Click to play video: 'Transportation Minister weighs in on LRT delays'
Transportation Minister weighs in on LRT delays
RELATED: Ontario's Transportation Minister Prabmeet Sarkaria said he is “not happy” with the ongoing Eglinton Crosstown LRT delays. – Dec 11, 2023

The Ford government has awarded a contract to build a portion of its Eglinton Crosstown West Extension as the wait for an opening date for the original line continues.

On Friday, the province announced it had settled on a company to build an elevated section of the extension, which will run 9.2 kilometres from west Toronto into Mississauga, Ont., along Eglinton Avenue.

“As part of the largest expansion of public transit in Canadian history, the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension will bring more people in Toronto and Mississauga closer to rapid transit,” Prabmeet Sarkaria, Minister of Transportation, said.

The contract is for a 1.5-kilometre section of the line, running from Jane Street to Scarlett Road. It will be elevated as it runs through a park and across the Humber River, while most of the route will buried underground.

The Humber River portion of the route has caused local controversy, with some residents concerned it will change the park for the worse.

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A local group called  Stop the Trains in Our Parks, or STOP for short, has said the raised portion of the route could alter the landscape of their local park by building large tunnel entrances and could threaten “mature trees.”

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Metrolinx, which is organizing the construction of the project, has said tunnelling the route through a floodplain would be a logistical nightmare.

“Tunnelling the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension under the Humber River would require excavations for the underground stations at Scarlett-Eglinton and Jane-Eglinton to be up to 30 metres deep,” the provincial transit agency previously said in response to the group’s concerns.

Announcing the award of the new contract, the province also said elevating the route would maximize travel times and minimize the impact of trains on the local community. Access to the park would be possible throughout construction.

“We are thrilled to reach another important milestone for the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension,” Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster said.

“When combined with the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, this line will bring riders from Mississauga through midtown Toronto and all the way to Scarborough, making it easier for thousands of people to choose transit first.”

The announcement of progress on the extension comes as Verster remains tight-lipped on when the original Eglinton Crosstown LRT will open.

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At the beginning of December, Verster said he was not going to “guess” when the delay-plagued line would open, refusing to even be drawn on a year.

The Ontario NDP has called for the Metrolinx CEO to be fired over delays to the line, which was due to originally open in 2020 and then 2021.

Both Metrolinx and the province have blamed the contract agreed to build the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, which officials believe bundled too many elements into one mega-deal.

They say lessons have been learned from that, including using smaller, nimbler contracts on future transit projects like the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension and the flagship Ontario Line.

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