[attach]6581[/attach]For the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project there is still light at the end of the tunnel, it just may be moved 2 km down the road.
Transit officials with Metrolinx and the TTC are looking into having the eastern portion of the LRT line surface further east than originally planned.
“We’re proposing an amendment to the 2010 environmental assessment,” said Metrolinx spokesperson Jamie Robinson. “It would extend the tunnelling from where it’s currently been approved, from basically what we call Laird or Brentcliffe, over to Don Mills.”
Under the new proposal, the eastern tunnel shaft would be dug at the northern parking lot of the Ontario Science Centre. Tunnel boaring machines would be launched from that point and tunnel westwards towards Yonge Street. According to Robinson, the new plan would be less intrusive to those living and working along Eglinton Avenue East.
“This proposal is better because there’s more tunnelling.” Robinson said. “There’s less disruption to traffic and residents, particularly during the construction period.”
The portion of the line east of Don Mills Road would continue at the surface to Kennedy Station while everything west of Don Mills Road would be part of the subterranean section. If the tunnel is extended, a part of it will have to travel underneath the West Don River.
“We’ll be well underneath the riverbed and so there will be no impact to the river as we tunnel underneath it,” Robinson said.
Robinson also said there would be no significant additional cost associated with extending the tunnel but that two planned stations would have to be eliminated.
“With extending the tunnel from Laird to Don Mills we would eliminate Leslie Street station and we would also eliminate Ferrand station,” Robinson said. “Those were both proposed as surface stops in the previous alignment.”
Not everyone is happy about the proposed changes.
“There would be a lot of people there that won’t be served,” said Leaside resident Geoff Kettel citing the number of condos being built in the Leslie and Eglinton area. “I don’t agree with the transit being underground because I feel the best way to build development is to have a lively street. The on-street presence of the light rail is, in fact, a good thing.”
The cost of building an underground station would be approximately $80 million and those two stops do not have the projected ridership to justify such an expense, according to Robinson. Ferrand Station would also be difficult to construct under the new proposal.
In addition to ensuring all environmental impacts of the new proposal are mitigated Robinson said transit officials are also seeking input from the local community. A public meeting was held at the Ontario Science Centre on Dec. 11 to discuss the new plan and Metrolinx will continue to welcome comments online at thecrosstown.ca., where details of the new plan can be found.
Robinson said he hopes for the amendment to be approved by spring 2013.
— With files from Jessica Vachon