Look out below: Getting a close-up look at the Crosstown’s first station

After two years of digging, crews are making significant headway on the first stop to be completed for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project

It turns out two years of digging makes a really big hole.

Members of the media were taken on a tour Friday to see the progress of the future Keelesdale station, which included a 25-metre descent into the future Eglinton Crosstown LRT stop.

Anders Persson, deputy regional director for Crosslinx, the consortium constructing the $5.3-billion light rail line, said crews have made astounding progress on the station.

“It’s taken two years to get here,” said Persson. “We’re standing inside the station on top of the platform level. This is the level where the trains are going to run.”

Tunnelling for the entire project was completed in late 2016. In early 2017, construction began on the underground stations beginning with Keelesdale.

Around 80,000 cubic meters, or enough dirt to fill 32 Olympic-sized swimming pools, was excavated to make room for Keelesdale station.

The construction was built using the “cut and cover” method, where work was staged to allow traffic to flow uninterrupted on a temporary wooden deck at street level.

“There’s 600 tonnes of steel holding that deck up and the deck itself is 12-inch by 12-inch wood, or timber pieces, so it’s steady, sturdy,” Persson said. “It’s designed like a full road.”

Persson admits many motorists travelling above Eglinton and Trethewey Drive have no idea that they’re driving above a 25-metre pit.

“I think they don’t have a clue about it,” he joked. “It’s steady. It’s good. We’ve been doing it for a long time and we feel good about it. It’s a good way to build.”

The Crosstown and its stations are also designed to cope with a 100-year storm event.

The stations, including Keelesdale, will be watertight, meaning there is a waterproofing system all around them so there is no ground water penetration into the station.

Once complete, the Crosstown will feature 19-kilometres of new light rail transit, including 25 stations and stops along Eglinton Avenue between Mount Dennis and Kennedy roads.

It will also provide a link to 54 bus routes, three TTC subway stations, the UP Express and the Kitchener, Barrie and Stouffville GO lines.

Keelesdale station is expected to be completed for summer 2020. The entire Crosstown project is set to open in September 2021.