Two huge tunnel-boring machines will help link east Mississauga to Toronto, and maybe the airport

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Published October 19, 2021 at 3:46 pm

Drill rigs work away at Renforth Dr. and Eglinton Ave. W. in east Mississauga, where tunnels will be dug to complete the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension light rail transit project. (Photo: Metrolinx)

Work crews are busy on the eastern edge of Mississauga preparing for tunnel work that will eventually link that part of the city with Toronto—and possibly Pearson Airport—via a new light rail transit (LRT) system. 

According to Metrolinx, which manages public transportation in the Golden Horseshoe, fences have been put up around the Renforth Dr./Eglinton Ave. W. site and drill rigs are ready to get to work. 

Crews are prepping the area for the arrival next spring from Germany of two tunnel boring machines (TBM) that will dig the two tunnels needed for the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension (ECWE), a 9.2-kilometre route that will bring the LRT from Toronto west to Renforth Dr. in Mississauga by 2030-31. 

One of two Mississauga-bound tunnel boring machines during factory inspection in Germany. Photo: Metrolinx

Once the current work prepares the entry points, or launch shafts, the TBMs will, upon arrival in early 2022, start at Renforth Dr. and move underground eastward towards Scarlett Rd. in Toronto. There, the line will rise to elevated tracks over the Humber River to Jane St., and then underground again to the future Mount Dennis Station. 

Metrolinx officials say a huge amount of excavation must be completed to accommodate the TBMs, which will dig tunnels with an internal diameter of 5.75 metres—big enough for an adult African Bush Elephant, the largest land mammal in the world, to walk through comfortably. 

Meanwhile, Metrolinx is working with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), which runs Pearson Airport in Mississauga, on a plan that would extend the ECWE an additional 4.7 kilometres from the Renforth Dr. site to the airport. 

The GTAA is pressing the federal government for financial support so it can see that plan come to fruition. 

Airport officials say a direct light rail connection from Toronto to Pearson and its huge employment zone, the second-largest in Canada, is crucial. The Pearson Airport Employment Zone, which includes parts of Mississauga, Brampton and Toronto, is second only to downtown Toronto’s financial core in size. 

The extended LRT route from Toronto to Renforth Dr., which will include seven passenger stops and an estimated 37,000 daily boardings, will run mainly underground, helping to reduce travel times and improve access to jobs, schools and other destinations across the GTA, Metrolinx says.  

If the route is extended to Pearson Airport, as many as three stops would be added between Renforth Dr. and Pearson.  

Metrolinx is working with Infrastructure Ontario to complete the huge project in the next nine or 10 years. 

When completed, the extended route will offer convenient links to destinations throughout the region—UP Express and Kitchener line GO train service, TTC bus services at all stops in Toronto, and MiWay and GO bus services via the Mississauga Transitway at Renforth Dr.  

 

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