Work on the Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT began Wednesday with two tunnel boring machines excavating underneath Eglinton Avenue.
Transportation Minister Glen Murray, Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig and York South-Weston MPP Laura Albanese were at Eglinton Avenue West and Black Creek Drive for the launch.
“We are going to deliver for Torontonians and people in the Hamilton the same high-quality transit that you would find in London or New York. We are not going to be second-class citizens in the world anymore when it comes to transit,” Murray said.
The second pair of tunnel boring machines will dig from just west of Leslie Street toward Yonge Street and Eglinton.
“This is great news for residents in my riding,” Albanese said.
“When completed, the Eglinton Crosstown LRT line will provide residents with better opportunities for jobs and a better quality of life as the line connects them to the rest of the city and improves public transit.”
The LRT is scheduled to open in 2020.
Once completed, the route will be 19 kilometres long — 11 of which will be underground — and stretch from Black Creek to Kennedy Road. The underground portion will run from Keele Street to Laird Drive.
Traffic will be better eventually, but in the short term, McCuaig admitted it would be worse. Boring machines would cause disruptions and reduce traffic to one lane in each direction in some cases, McCuaig said in April.
The machines move slowly, about 15 metres a day, McCuaig said, and there will be increased traffic due to the construction, like dump trucks that are used to cart away debris and dirt from the digging.
By 2015, Metrolinx said it would build an elevated decking over the tunnel, so that cars could still drive along the road.
Toronto residents were asked to name the four boring machines that will be used on the line. Dennis and Lea were chosen to represent the neighbourhoods of Mount Dennis and Leaside, while Don and Humber represent the Don and Humber rivers.
The Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown LRT is part of Metrolinx’s $50-billion Big Move transit expansion plan for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA). The massive plan includes a downtown relief subway line in Toronto, the expansion of the Yonge subway line into York Region and several new rapid bus transit corridors across the region.
The goal is to have 80 per cent of residents in the GTHA within two kilometres of a transit station or stop.
With files from 680News