Busy road will be moved to make way for major Mississauga light rail transit line

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Published March 28, 2023 at 3:44 pm

A bird's-eye view of the most-recent work being completed as part of the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension project. The orange tarp shown here will protect the soil before it's paved as work crews "move" Eglinton Ave. a short distance to the south. (Photo: Metrolinx)

Part of a major Toronto road is being moved about 10 metres to the south as the latest phase in a huge east Mississauga light rail transit (LRT) project moves forward.

Crews working on the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension (ECWE) LRT that will further link Mississauga and Toronto are moving a portion of busy Eglinton Ave. W. in order to complete the latest phase of the project.

When completed, the 9.2-kilometre ECWE will bring the Eglinton Crosstown LRT from Toronto west to Renforth Dr. in east Mississauga by 2030-31 and deliver some 37,000 daily rides to passengers.

A proposal to extend the ECWE an additional 4.7 kilometres from Renforth Dr. to Pearson Airport in Mississauga is also being strongly considered.

In the last 11 months, two massive tunnel-boring machines (TBMs) that were shipped in pieces from Germany in December 2021 have been digging through dirt to carve out the underground portion of the ECWE.

“Renny,” the first TBM to start tunnelling, has moved 3.28 kilometres to date while “Rexy,” the second machine to go into the ground, has tunnelled 2.53 kilometes since late last July, project leaders say.

Tunnel work for the ECWE, which began last April, is expected to take about 20 months, according to Metrolinx, the provincial agency overseeing the project. The TBMs are travelling eastward at a rate of 10 to 15 metres per day.

“Once they reach their destination just west of Scarlett Rd. (Toronto), they will be dismantled and removed from the ground through an extraction shaft,” say officials with Metrolinx, adding part of Eglinton Ave. needs to be moved a short distance south to make way for the extraction shaft. “This shaft is also the portal for where the trains will transition between the tunnel and the elevated guideway.”

Metrolinx says those interested can keep tabs on progress made by “Rexy” and “Renny” via a tracker on the project website as they dig more than six kilometres of tunnels that will form a large part of the ECWE.

When finished, the ECWE will operate underground from Renforth Dr. in Mississauga to just west of Scarlett Rd. in Toronto, where it will then transition to a 1.5-km elevated section that runs east of Jane St. before heading underground again and connecting to the future Mount Dennis Station.

Metrolinx officials noted in a project update late last year that the TBMs, in addition to their primary function, also hold the key to survival for workers should something go wrong and they not be able to exit the tunnels safely.

Each TBM holds inside of it a safety chamber, measuring nine metres long, 1.6 metres wide and two metres tall.

Meanwhile, Metrolinx officials said recently that they’re taking steps to get the line up and running ahead of schedule.

While the ECWE remains on schedule for a 2030-31 opening to passengers, officials told residents at an ECWE open house earlier this month that as they seek to keep construction noise to a minimum, they may be able to move the project along faster.

Work on the ECWE hit a milestone earlier this month when one of the tunnels being dug out for the route passed the halfway mark to being completed.

Less than a year after tunnelling began on the ECWE, the first of two tunnel-boring machines (TBMs) reached the halfway point in its underground journey, more than 3.15 kilometres.

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