Tunneling starts for massive Mississauga light rail transit project


Published April 11, 2022 at 3:44 pm

Tunneling starts for massive Mississauga light rail transit project
This is where the tunneling began today (Monday, April 11) on the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension project. (Photo: Metrolinx)

After months of prep work, the tunnel digging starts today (April 11) for the below-ground segment of a major light rail transit (LRT) route that will further link Mississauga and Toronto.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford and federal Transport Minister and Mississauga Centre MP Omar Alghabra joined project officials on-site this afternoon in east Mississauga to mark the start of tunneling for the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension (ECWE).

Assembly of the two huge digging machines that will create the twin tunnels was just recently completed, and they’ve been put to work right away.

The tunnel-boring machines (TBMs), which were shipped from Germany in December, will carve out a significant portion of the 9.2-kilometre ECWE that, when completed, will bring the Eglinton Crosstown LRT from Toronto west to Renforth Dr. in Mississauga by 2030-31.

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

Metrolinx, the provincial public transit agency overseeing the ECWE project, says much prep work was required prior to the arrival and eventual assembly of the TBMs.

“A very large hole needed to be dug, colloquially referred to as ‘the pit’ by the construction team. Complete, it’s 80 metres long, 20 metres wide and 17 metres deep, which is big enough to hold about 10 Olympic-size swimming pools’ worth of water,” project officials said last month. “Lowering the cutterheads (front portion of the TBMs) into the launch shaft was an exciting moment; they each weigh about 65 tonnes and were lowered by crane.”

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 says the elevated section will run along the north side of Eglinton Ave. W. and will be built as close as possible to the road and maintain easy access to Fergy Brown, Eglinton Flats and Pearen parks.

The TBMs, nicknamed Renny and Rexy for the route’s proximity to Renforth Station in Mississauga and the Rexdale neighbourhood in nearby west Toronto, were recently assembled after component parts had made the cross-Atlantic journey late last year.

With much fanfare, key parts of the TBMs arrived from Germany by cargo ship in Hamilton in December. They were then trucked with police escort up the QEW to the east Mississauga work site.

The cutterheads for Rexy and Renny, each weighing some 65 tonnes and measuring 6.5 metres in diameter, arrived at the ECWE tunnel launch site by truck just before Christmas.

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

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