Huge tunnel-digging machines for light rail transit project arrive in Mississauga by police escort


Published December 23, 2021 at 10:38 am

The cutter heads for the tunnel-boring machines that will dig out the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension in Mississauga were brought to the work site this week by truck and police escort from Hamilton. (Photo: Metrolinx)

Those involved with a massive project to extend a light rail transit (LRT) route into Mississauga from Toronto received an early Christmas gift this week.

Key parts of the two huge machines that will dig the tunnels for the below-ground segment of the 9.2 -kilometre route that will bring the Eglinton Crosstown LRT from Toronto west to Renforth Dr. in Mississauga by 2030-31 arrived at the east Mississauga work site yesterday.

The cutter heads for the tunnel-boring machines (TBMs), each weighing some 65 tonnes and measuring 6.5 metres in diameter, were brought to the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension (ECWE) tunnel launch site by truck and police escort from Hamilton.

One of the huge cutter heads arrives at the Mississauga work site. (Photo: Metrolinx)

They arrived in Hamilton last week after a cross-Atlantic cargo ship journey of some 11,000 kilometres from Germany that took more than three weeks.

Officials with Metrolinx, the agency overseeing the huge public transit project, say the rest of the TBM parts are scheduled to arrive at the launch site in January. Those pieces of equipment are making the same cross-Atlantic trip.

“Once all the parts are on site, the team will start the process of assembling these machines, a process that takes months,” Metrolinx said. “Once they’re assembled, they’ll be lowered into the ground to begin the big dig.”

In the meantime, crews have been working to prepare the launch shaft for the TBMs. The large hole at the launch site measures 80 metres in length, 20 metres in width and 17 metres deep.

“That’s big enough to hold about 10 Olympic-size swimming pools worth of water,” project officials say.

In total, the TBM parts are being shipped from Germany in 14 shipping containers.

Metrolinx, says projects such as the ECWE “will not only benefit the communities where they are being built, but the region as a whole.”

Two weeks ago, Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario began the search for a team that will design, build and finance the tunnels that will run between Jane St. and the future Mount Dennis Station at the eastern end of the ECWE.  

Also, a proposal to extend the ECWE an additional 4.7 kilometres from Renforth Dr. to Pearson Airport in Mississauga is one step closer to reality after the Ontario government recently reaffirmed its support for the plan. 

The tunnel launch shaft at the east Mississauga work site. (Photo: Metrolinx)

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