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Metrolinx doing 'late-stage' work on Eglinton Crosstown LRT but offers no new opening date

Arabnews24.ca:Thursday 1 December 2022 09:10 PM: Metrolinx is doing "late-stage" work at Eglinton Crosstown LRT stations and stops, but it has no new date for the opening of the new line, the provincial transit agency reported on Thursday.

At a board of directors meeting, Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster said the agency is working closely with Crosslinx Transit Solutions, the consortium building the $5.8 billion Eglinton Crosstown project, to ensure testing, commissioning and documentation is completed. Metrolinx announced on Sept. 23 that the project was delayed.

"We will open the EC LRT once we are satisfied that it is safe and reliable to do so," Verster told the board.

The 19-kilometre line, which was to be up and running by the end of this year, is to run along Eglinton Avenue with 25 stops from Kennedy in the east to Mount Dennis in the west.

Metrolinx received updates on several rapid transit projects at the meeting, including the Ontario Line, Eglinton Crosstown West Extension, Finch West Extension, Scarborough Subway Extension and Hurontario LRT.

Verster said the agency will learn lessons from the final report, delivered on Wednesday, of a public inquiry into Ottawa's Confederation Line, a light rail transit system.

The inquiry found that city officials and contracted companies made "egregious" errors during the construction and testing of the $2.1-billion LRT route. The report said the line was rushed into service too early, which led to malfunctioning equipment, flattened and cracked wheels and a pair of derailments.

The Rideau Transit Group consortium, which helped build the line, includes SNC Lavalin and Ellis Don, two companies that are helping build the Eglinton Crosstown.

Crews on the Eglinton Crosstown continue underground work on the southwest corner of Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue. (Angelina King/CBC)

When asked about the report at the meeting, Verster said: "It's really important to learn lessons from equipment that operates on other networks."

A quarterly report on capital projects says Metrolinx has completed such Eglinton Crosstown work as the installation of exterior glazing at the Chaplin Station main entrance and landscaping for both Oakwood Station entrances in July. Permanent traffic signals were installed at several stations, including Fairbank, Laird and Oakwood, in August.

'Huge steps' taken on Ontario Line, CEO says

As for the Ontario Line, Verster said the agency has awarded two major contracts for its design and construction.

Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx have awarded a contract valued at $6 billion to Ontario Transit Group to design, build and finance the Ontario Line Southern Civil, Stations and Tunnel package and a contract valued at $9 billion to Connect 6ix to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Ontario Line Rolling Stock, Systems, Operations and Maintenance package.

"We have made huge steps forward on the Ontario Line," Verster said. "These are two of the three big packages to built the Ontario Line."

Verster said Metrolinx has "disaggregated" the third package into different contracts and has gone to market with requests for qualifications for two big progressive design build contracts that makes up the northern end of the 15.6-kilometre route. The line is slated to cut through downtown from the Ontario Science Centre to Ontario Place.

This rendering shows the elevated section of the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension running along the north side of Eglinton Avenue West before heading back underground east of Jane Street. (Metrolinx)

Metrolinx, meanwhile, has closed requests for proposals for two parts of the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension light rail line for a elevated guideway and a second advance tunnel to Mount Dennis, he said.

The $4.7-billion project, expected to finish in 2030-31, will extend the Eglinton Crosstown 9.2 kilometres west along Eglinton Avenue West to Mississauga.

One of two boring machines has tunnelled beneath the streets of Toronto to build out the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension. It has now reached Martin Grove station and is expected to connect Mount Dennis in York to Mississauga.

Andrew Hope, chief capital officer for rapid transit at Metrolinx, told the meeting the agency is moving from "planning and procurement and into implementation" on the Ontario Line.

Hope said Metrolinx is making "great progress" on laying the concrete bed for tracks and building stations on the Finch West LRT, which is still on track to open in 2023. 

Construction continues in Scarborough

Hope said construction continues on head walls for the Scarborough Subway Extension, including at the future Scarborough Centre Station, south of Highway 401. He said head walls are watertight walls built at either end of stations.

Hope said the head walls have to be completed in time for the arrival of a boring machine, which proceeds through the head wall.

The project is a 7.8-kilometre extension of TTC's Line 2 subway. It will run from Kennedy Station northeast to McCowan Road and Sheppard Avenue East.

Metrolinx, as well, has installed what it calls a "push box" for the Hurontario LRT in Mississauga. It is a large, hollow concrete box under the QEW that will accommodate northbound traffic lanes. It frees up space for the LRT to travel under an existing bridge.

The 18-kilometre line, to be renamed the Hazel McCallion line, will have 19 stops and link to GO Stations at Port Credit and Cooksville, the Mississauga Transitway, Square One GO Bus Terminal, Brampton Gateway Terminal, and MiWay and Brampton Transit routes.

At the meeting, Metrolinx also reported on its ridership, saying the same number of people are riding its bus and train networks as before COVID-19, but they are doing so less frequently.

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