Tunnel digging for huge light rail transit project in Mississauga passes halfway mark


Published March 2, 2023 at 3:03 pm

One of the tunnels being dug out for a massive new light rail transit (LRT) route being built in east Mississauga is now past the halfway mark to being completed.

Word from project leaders came last Friday that less than a year after tunnelling began on the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension (ECWE), the first of two tunnel-boring machines (TBMs) reached the halfway point in its underground journey, more than 3.15 kilometres.

The ECWE remains on schedule for a 2030-31 opening to passengers, according to project leader Metrolinx, despite word late last year and controversy that the parent project, the Eglinton Crosstown LRT in Toronto, is significantly behind schedule.

Metrolinx, the provincial agency that oversees such major transit projects, says that when completed, the ECWE will further link Mississauga and Toronto and is expected to eventually extend to Pearson Airport as well in delivering some 37,000 daily rides to passengers.

At the moment, two huge tunnel-digging machines are busy clearing underground paths in which the LRT trains will eventually travel part of the 9.2-kilometre route linking east Mississauga with parts of west Toronto.

Tunnel work, which began last April, is expected to take about 20 months, according to Metrolinx, with the TBMs travelling eastward at a rate of 10 to 15 metres per day.

“The first tunnel-boring machine to start tunnelling, also known as Renny, passed the halfway point, digging over three kilometres of the roughly six-kilometre tunnel,” Metrolinx officials said in an online project update, describing the accomplishment as a milestone.

Shipped from Germany in December 2021, the TBMs–named Renny and Rexy by public vote–will carve out a significant portion of the ECWE that, when completed seven or so years from now, will bring the Eglinton Crosstown LRT from Toronto west to Renforth Dr. in east Mississauga.

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

Rexy, the second TBM, has tunnelled 2.45 kilometres since starting its journey last July.

The ECWE is also expected to cut greenhouse gas emissions by some 39,000 tonnes each year, project leaders say.

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.

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