Behind-the-scenes look at the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension

Global News recently toured Pioneer Village station, which is under construction and scheduled to open as a part of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension by the end of 2017.
Global News recently toured Pioneer Village station, which is under construction and scheduled to open as a part of the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension by the end of 2017. Nick Westoll / Global News

It’s a project that has been in the works for over a decade, but work on the TTC’s Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension (TYSSE) is entering the final-year countdown as the transit agency aims to finish the $3.18-billion project by the end of 2017.

Global News recently got a tour of Pioneer Village station, one of six new stations to open on Line 1. We got an inside look at the TYSSE’s progress with Joanna Kervin, the project’s director of third party, planning and property, before subways start going to Vaughan from Downsview station (to be renamed Sheppard West station once the extension opens).

“One of the things passengers will notice when they’re using this extension is how seamlessly the connections between different transit services are provided,” Kervin said.

READ MORE: $150M needed to finish delayed Spadina subway extension by end of 2017

But the journey to opening the subway extension and creating those new, seamless transit connections hasn’t been an easy one.

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TTC staff and contractors have been working in overdrive since a project reset back in March 2015. The TYSSE was two years behind schedule at that point and it needed an extra $150 million to get the job done.

The board approved recommendations from TTC CEO Andy Byford and since then, staff have been working feverishly to identify critical milestones and shuffle contractors’ work schedules around in order to meet the revised goal of opening the subway extension by Dec. 31, 2017.

Kervin said substantial progress has been made over the past few years with the assistance of hundreds of construction staff. Two stations are 95 and 98 per cent complete and the remaining stations are 87 to 95 per cent complete.

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Downsview Park station is the closest to being finished, while York University station still has the most work to be done. She said tunneling and track installation has been completed, electrical power has been mostly installed and signalling, communication and utility cable work is continuing.

The next critical milestone for the project comes is scheduled for the end of March. That’s when crews turn on traction power to the rails, which will allow trains to enter the tunnels and for staff to test all of the systems.

READ MORE: Track work complete on Yonge-Spadina subway extension

In addition to intensive testing, Kervin said thousands of equipment safety certificates need to be issued and emergency personnel crews in York Region need to be trained on how to respond to incidents in the subway system.

Meanwhile at Pioneer Village station, located on Steeles Avenue West near Jane Street on the north side of York University, commuters will notice the rust-coloured weathering steel metal panels on the station’s façades – a colour theme that carries through the terrazzo flooring, TTC bus terminal ceiling panels and landscaping.

Each of the stations has its own unique design, but high ceilings, large windows and natural light are prevalent at Pioneer Village station and other TYSSE stations.

WATCH: TTC previews new Downsview Park subway station (Jan. 23, 2017)
Click to play video: 'TTC previews new Downsview Park subway station'
TTC previews new Downsview Park subway station

There are classic TTC features, as well.

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“At the end of the day though, a lot of the elements that are in the stations like the terrazzo flooring, the cladding for escalators, the ceilings and the finishes at the platform level, those are actually standard TTC features,” Kervin said, adding commuters will see natural sunlight on the concourse level.

Some of the other amenities include 2,900 combined parking spaces at Finch West, Pioneer Village and Highway 407 stations, as well as bicycle facilities.

Once completed, she said 80 million people will ride on the 8.6-kilometre subway extension annually. Kervin said it should take around 17 minutes to travel the length of the extension and 42 minutes to travel between Union Station and Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.

WATCH: Yonge-York-Spadina subway extension makes progress (June 6)
Click to play video: 'Yonge-York-Spadina subway extension makes progress'
Yonge-York-Spadina subway extension makes progress

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