Avenue Station – Room enough for more than one brachiosaurus

In the latest stop in our Crosstown Progress series – visiting every major location along the Eglinton LRT line – we take a look at how big of a deal Avenue Station has already become.

(Update – Want to see a new Avenue Station picture, posted after this feature was posted? Click here – it’s a very cool shot.)

Do you need a short-term place to store a blue whale out of sight in Toronto – on its head?

At 32 metres below the surface of Toronto, subterranean construction on the Avenue Station site has come a long way – down.

How deep again?

You’d need more than 16 average NBA players, all standing on each other’s shoulders from the cavern bottom, to peek above street level.

Work crews seem small as they stand at the bottom of the cave work and look up toward street level.

Low down on way down – 32 metres below the roadway, this massive cavern will one day be the future Avenue Station.

Wait, you want more memorable mental images of the remarkable size? As a kid, you likely loved the gentle brachiosaurus – a large sauropod dinosaur with a very long neck and small head. Thanks to the work being done by our partners at Crosslinx Transit Solutions (CTS), on this stop of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project, you could fit about two of them into the hole. Since those critters are no longer around, three school buses could also be stacked, end to end, inside.

Located at the Eglinton Avenue West and Avenue Road intersection, Avenue Station is being constructed by using a sequential excavation method – better known as mining. Once excavation is complete, a cavern is then mined towards the centre of the road from each entrance, eventually joining them all together to form the station’s concourse and platform.

In fact, just this month, the mining work connected caverns from the main entrance and the secondary entrance into one area.

Image shows a tunnel pushing through rock, to reach the other side.

The Avenue team celebrated a big achievement in April when mining excavation punched through to connect caverns from the main entrance and the secondary entrance into one area

Construction of Avenue Station began in 2016, with mining starting later in 2018. Mining works continue and will be complete by 2020, in time for the station’s grand opening in 2021. The complete station will include two entrances, retail space, 50 bicycle parking spots and on-street connections to TTC bus routes.

A photo shows down into a pit under construction - lots of dirt and equipment.

An overhead crane runs frequently to ferry mined dirt out of the cavern at the gigantic Avenue Station

Avenue Station will also include a ‘turnback’ track, meaning that the rail will cross over and connect two tracks together. This will allow the light rail vehicles (LRVs) to not only change directions, but also be stored in the middle track in case of an emergency or change in service, without disrupting operations.

An artist image sees pedestrians and motorists going past the Avenue Station.

The complete station will include two entrances, retail space, 50 bicycle parking spots and on-street connections to TTC bus routes.

Customers and escalators - lit by natural light - is shown in an artist concept.

Once completed, the inside of Avenue Station will look world’s away from the heavy digging going on now. But major progress toward this vision has already taken place.

To get a sense of just how massive Avenue Station is, or to scope out how many dinosaurs you could hide if you wanted to, check out this video feature done by BlogTO back in March.

Want to see how deep – and wide – the Crosstown station at Eglinton and Yonge Street is shaping up to be. Click here to find out.

Story by Erika D’Urbano, Metrolinx communications specialist.