Ford government prepares to build stations for Eglinton Crosstown West Extension

Click to play video: 'Province forges ahead with western Crosstown LRT extension'
Province forges ahead with western Crosstown LRT extension
Even as commuters continue to wait for an opening date for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, the province is pushing forward development on seven new stations that will service the west end of the GTA. Shallima Maharaj reports – Mar 25, 2024

The Ford government is forging ahead with plans to build an extension to the years-delayed Eglinton Crosstown LRT, promising it has learned the lessons from the unopened original route.

On Monday, the province announced it was opening the door for companies to begin bidding on contracts to design and build seven stations on the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension.

The 9.2-kilometre route will be built predominantly underground from Mount Dennis to the Mississauga-Toronto border. Tunnelling on the project began in 2022 with two tunnel boring machines heading east underground.

“Our government is bringing thousands of people in the GTA within walking distance of public transit,” said Prabmeet Sarkaria, Minister of Transportation, on Monday.

“For people who depend on transit to get to and from work and other important destinations, the seven-stop Eglinton Crosstown West Extension will be a game changer, connecting commuters from Renforth to Mount Dennis, Kennedy and beyond.”

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Monday’s announcement means the government is issuing a request for qualifications for companies to design and build stations, rail and systems for the route. Interested groups will share their credentials during this stage of the process before it is later narrowed to a request for proposals and then a successful bidder.

The contract for stations, rail and system is the fourth contract for the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension. Two contracts to deliver tunnelling for the project and another to build an elevated track for part of the route have already been awarded.

The province said it expects almost 70,000 daily riders to use the route once it has opened. Sarkaria did not provide an opening date or budget for the line when asked but said the plan was to “procure it to the market and … work with the market” to determine the final cost.

The announcement was welcomed by Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow who said the latest request for proposals on the route was “another sign of progress” in delivering transit in the city.

“I hope that we can soon have thousands of people filling up these stations and excited about exploring all the amazing things that Mount Dennis and the neighbouring communities have to offer,” Chow said.

The continued progress on the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension comes as the original line remains unfinished and without an opening date.

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Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster has promised to announce an opening date for the years-delayed line three months before it is ready to host riders. On Monday, he said ongoing issues with the software designed to run the trains had yet to be resolved. Once the final issues are ironed out, drivers will still need to be trained on the route before passengers can board trains.

Asked if he remained confident in the extensions, Sarkaria said lessons were being taken on board from the original project.

“We’ve learned from previous projects and we’ve got shovels in the ground on this project — already we’ve completed almost five kilometres of tunnelling on this line,” he said.

“Sure, there have been challenges. As you build in a city, there are going to be challenges. But we’re going to learn from them — and we have. And the result of that is projects that you see here today: the west extension.”

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