TORONTO – The date for the 19-kilometre Eglinton Crosstown LRT to begin operation has been pushed back by one year to the fall of 2021.
The new timeline was confirmed at the launch of two new westbound tunnel-boring machines for the project near Brentcliffe Road and Eglinton Avenue East.
“As we opened the bids process and talked through the different bid companies about how they can deliver, not just the infrastructure, but work with the communities as they’re building the infrastructure, we came forward with the completion date of 2021,” said Metrolinx President and CEO, Bruce McCuaig.
The machines, nicknamed ‘Don’ and ‘Humber’, begin digging the underground path toward Yonge Street next week after being delayed due to underground utilities being found where they weren’t expected to be. Tunnelling is supposed to be complete by the end of 2016.
“It will offer reliable transit to Toronto residents and integrate GTHA transit services,” Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca said.
“In fact, this new line will be 60 per cent faster than the existing bus service in operation today.”
Work on the western segment of the tunnel started at Black Creek Drive in June 2013 and complaints from the community started soon after.
“Business has been affected by the construction,” the chair of the Eglinton Way BIA, Maureen Sirois said. “There’s just no way that it can’t be because people have the perception that things are totally blocked up.”
Those living next to the site where the new machines have been launched are already upset with the construction that’s taken place.
“It’s been quite noisy,” said nearby resident Suzanne Akleh.
“You do feel the vibration through the house and I’m not looking forward to what’s to come.”
Employees from retail stores claim customers are avoiding the area because of the disruption.
“I’m sure when that starts even more people are going to avoid that noise,” store manager Mike Frazis said. “I can see how it’s affecting us more and more every month.”
Metrolinx does provide signage at each of its construction indicating businesses in the area are still open.
“We try to actually limit the amount of impact that we have on the business community and on driveways in terms of the construction activity that limits people’s access,” McCuaig said.
The $5.3 billion Crosstown will consist of 25 stations and stops, linking to bus routes, three subway stations and GO Transit lines.