Sunday, February 05, 2017

Eglinton Crosstown surges forward

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The year 2017 will see construction on Toronto’s Eglinton Crosstown LRT project move into its next phase.

eglinton final map janThe Eglinton Crosstown extends 11.8 miles (19 km), from Mount Dennis Station (Eglinton and Weston Road) to Kennedy Subway Station (Eglinton and Kennedy Road). Six miles (10 km) are underground, in twin bored tunnels, while the balance is center reservation surface running along Eglinton.

It could be said that 2017 will be the “Year of the Dig” for the Crosstown. The tunnel sections were finished in 2016, and work has begun on the 15 underground stations, utilizing the cut-and-cover method. Shoring work should be completed by Dec. 31, 2017, allowing for roof slab construction. In addition, concrete pouring for the track bed was scheduled for a February startup.

Pile driving is progressing for the underground Science Centre Station, at Don Mills Road. This facility includes an off-street bus terminal. The station will be located on the surface section, about one mile east of the Brentcliffe Portal, where the LRT tracks emerge from underground.

However, it was decided to place the line underground at Don Mills, as this is one of the busiest traffic intersections in Toronto. The below-grade design also protects for a possible future connection with a future Relief Subway Line, which would remove pressure from the severely overcrowded Yonge Subway. Metrolinx, the City of Toronto, and the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) are currently studying this project.

The eastern terminal of the LRT, at Kennedy Road, will also be underground, descending a ramp from its center median just west of Kennedy. It provides a pedestrian connection with the Bloor-Danforth Subway, which has terminated here since December 1980. Provision is being made for a possible eastern extension of the Crosstown LRT from this location. The new station is to have four entrances.

Preparatory work (subsurface utilities engineering, plus environmental and geo-technical investigation) is progressing here; utility relocation will be under way this spring. Similar work is continuing on the surface track section between Brentcliffe and Kennedy. However track construction is not in the cards for 2017. The rails are to be installed in a concrete track bed, with center pole bracket arms for the overhead wires.

The first rails for the Crosstown LRT will actually be laid in 2017, at the above-ground storage and maintenance facility adjacent to Mount Dennis Station. Construction of the buildings will be also be well advanced by year’s end.

The yard, shop and related buildings are being built on 47 acres of land occupied until about 10 years ago by Kodak Canada Ltd., which incorporated Kodak’s Canadian head office, film, paper and camera manufacturing divisions, and color film processing services. All but one of the buildings was demolished, leaving a “brownfield.” This structure is being retained for historic reasons, and will provide a secondary entrance for Mount Dennis Station, on which work has commenced.

The Mount Dennis yard and shop is intended host the 76 Flexity Freedom double ended low floor LRVs that Metrolinx has ordered from Bombardier Transportation. However, Metrolinx has been threatening to cancel the order, due to the manufacturer’s chronic lateness in supplying vehicles. The first prototype car was received in late 2016, considerably behind schedule, and sent to Bombardier’s plant in Kingston, Ontario (about 200 miles east of Toronto) for testing and evaluation. The LRVs will be delivered to the Mount Dennis yard by railroad; Canadian Pacific’s Mactier Subdivision borders the western boundary.

The Crosstown tracks, incidentally, are being laid to railway standard gauge, not the TTC’s of four feet, 10 7/8 inches. Metrolinx made this decision to allow for a possible future linkup with Mississauga’s Hurontario Street LRT line, on which construction will begin in 2018. The Crosstown, however, will be operated by TTC employees and maintained by Crosslinx Transit Solutions (CTS), the consortium responsible for designing, building, financing and maintaining the LRT for a 30-year term. In any event, the nearest TTC streetcar tracks are about one mile south of Eglinton Avenue, on St. Clair Avenue.

Metrolinx has also decided not to use the TTC’s floating slab track, which was introduced on the Spadina Subway in 1978. In a nutshell, this involved utilizing a track slab that is tunnel width and about 10 feet in length, isolated from the invert both underneath and at the sides by circular rubber pads, akin to oversize hockey pucks. This system significantly reduces noise and vibration in the subway, but requires the tunnels to be slightly higher. The late Stan Lawrence, TTC’s Manager of Engineering, recommended use of the floating slab system for the Spadina subway.

The Crosstown LRT’s tunnel height is approximately 15.75 feet (4.8 meters); the tunnels are lined with concrete.

The Crosstown route passes beneath two existing subway lines, the Spadina and Yonge. At Eglinton Station, Yonge Subway, the platform is being extended northward by about 75 feet to provide a better interface with the LRT. This will be achieved by building into a former box tunnel storage track, incorporated within the original Eglinton Terminal, opened in 1954. All of the underground LRT stations are designed with mezzanines. Mount Dennis Station will offer a connection to a new GO Transit station at this location, on the former CN Weston Subdivision.

The rail being used throughout is 115 pound RE, the TTC’s standard. The Crosstown follows a generally tangent alignment across one of Toronto’s most important east-west arteries.

Opening is scheduled for 2021; the Eglinton Crosstown LRT represents the largest new rail transit line to be built in Toronto.















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