Hidden caverns open wide to build Laird Station and Crosstown

In this latest stop in our Crosstown Progress series – exploring where construction is at at every station along the Toronto light rail transit line – we break inside another earthly world, suddenly opened up for the first time.

It seems like, in a city like Toronto, every space has been fully explored.

But go down a few feet. Then a few feet more. And keep going.

Another world exists, protected by time and rock and layers of concrete from the city above. It’s a solid, empty expanse that waits in the quiet below us.

And during construction of the Crosstown project, crews have created thriving caverns, below always busy Eglinton. They’re being emptied and opened up to become part of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT line.

A workman looks at a large concrete tunnel, with equipment working inside.

Laird station is really taking shape. Standing at platform level, the roof you see in this photo is the same roof you’ll see when you’re waiting for the LRT.

Under Eglinton Avenue East and Laird Drive, we visit the last of our mined stations.

Laird Station is the 13th station heading east along Eglinton Avenue for the Crosstown LRT line.

Beneath the surface, work is underway around the clock. Video shot by Nitish Bissonauth 

The completed station will have two entrances, on-street connections to TTC bus routes, 60 outdoor bicycle parking spaces, a station plaza and retail space.

Large metal sections are built inside a tunnel.

This structure at Laird is impressive, but it’s not permanent – it’s the support system being used to construct the archway on the platform roof.

Construction of Laird began in 2016 with piling work and entrance excavation. Today, mining is ongoing beneath the roadway while traffic continues to flow undisrupted over top. Mining is no easy task, as we have seen from our other mined stations, Oakwood and Avenue.

To ensure the stability of the mining activity, the walls and roof of what will make up the platform level are rounded. Just recently, the first section of the station’s roof was complete.

A workman looks up at a large concrete tunnel.

In March, crews completed the first archway pour for Laird Station – this arched platform structure at the station can now be seen.

What is there now will be the same rounded roof you will see when the station opens in 2021. Mining at Laird will continue through into late 2019, with final mining excavation work to be completed in 2020.

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What the inside of Laird Station, according to an artist concept, will soon look like.

Laird Station will also be a turn-back station. Special track work for the light rail vehicles will be installed to allow the vehicles to turn around on either side of the station if needed, as well as the installation of storage track on the east side of the station.

An artist concept shows Laird Station in the community.

The outside of Laird Station, once completed.

Until then, watch these man-made caverns continue to take shape more and more each day as they start to be molded into what will be your future Crosstown LRT stations.

The space has quietly existed forever. Now it’s opening up for Toronto.

This article was edited on May 3, 2019, to reflect no natural caverns have been found during construction. They are all man-made.

Story by Erika D’Urbano, Metrolinx communications specialist.