Future construction details announced for Toronto’s Finch West light rail transit project – Find features of the LRT elements here

Major construction for the future transit route has now kicked off, including work on a new maintenance and storage facility. But read on for more details on what’s been done as well as what’s to come along the new route.

Things are moving along on the Finch West light rail transit (LRT) project, as major construction works now kicks off.

Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario are working with its contractor Mosaic Transit Group to design and construct the $1.2 billion project. It will add up to an 11 kilometre long public transit route running across Finch Ave. West, from Keele Street to Highway 27, before travelling south on Highway 27 to Humber College Boulevard.

Image shows an artist's rendering of Humber station.

A rendering of Humber station at night.

Before customers can step aboard, there’s a lot of work to do. Though initial progress is now underway, and was showcased during an event today (Nov. 15) at the future home of an important maintenance and storage facility at 50 York Gate Boulevard, the ceremony marked the start of major construction works for the Finch West LRT.

Three other sites along the route are or will be under construction soon, including a Finch West station at Keele Street, a Highway 400 bridge and a Humber College stop.

We’ve outlined some important details of how major elements will roll out below in this feature.

“It’s a great feeling to be starting construction on the Finch West LRT line, a project that is important in so many ways to Toronto,” said Phil Verster, President and CEO of Metrolinx.

“We know it will contribute to improving transit connections for the communities of Jamestown, Rexdale and Black Creek.”

Verster noted that when complete, the route is expected to move 46,000 passengers each weekday.

“Improving transit in the city of Toronto will have benefits for everyone in the region,” he added.

We thought we’d break down some of the important work underway and elements to come.

Rendering shows a large facility, next to green space and local roadways.

From up high, how the massive MSF facility is expected to look, once completed.

The Maintenance and Storage Facility (MSF)

At nearly 10,000 square metres, the MSF building is slightly larger than the size of a Canadian football field. Located at Finch Ave. West, between Norfinch Drive and York Gate Boulevard, most of the work will happen behind a screened fence and will be unveiled upon completion in 2022.

Crews have completed some of the major preliminary work such as clearing and grubbing, construction of an access road, installation of perimeter fencing as well as trailers. A storm water containment pond has been built, as well as excavation for the footprint of the building is underway. Right now, crews are pouring of the foundation footing; later, they will strip and remove the remaining topsoil layer at the rest of the site.

The MSF will be the centre of upkeep for the Finch West LRT. It will have a repair shop, car wash facility, material storage building and capacity for 26 light rail vehicles.

The structure is being designed and constructed to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver Certification and will have a green roof, covered in plants, which reduces water run-off and lowers cooling costs.

Image shows the outside of a bright, white and glass transit station, as customers walk in and someone gets a bike.

A look at what the Finch West station may look like, once complete.

Finch West station

The Finch West station will be an underground interchange station located on the north and south east corners of Finch Ave West and Keele St., with a tunnel connecting to the Finch West Subway station. To date, crews have installed perimeter fencing and temporary power on the northeast and southeast corners.

Before the first steel piles are driven in the ground for the underground Finch West station, traffic signals and street furniture – those are the benches, transit shelters and litter bins – need to be moved. As well, both sides of Finch Avenue West must be widened and buried water mains and storm sewers must be relocated.

Then excavation will begin: digging will go 11-metres deep around the station wall so supports can be installed. All that excavation work will take place on one side of the street at a time, starting on the east side of the street, then moving to the west, using a “cut and cover” method. After digging to the depth of the station box, wood and steel decks will be but in place to cover the hole, allowing traffic and transit to return to normal while crews work below ground to build the new station.

Highway 400 Bridge Rehabilitation

The Highway 400 Bridge at Finch Ave. West will be rehabilitated to accommodate a shared pathway for pedestrians and cyclists and the new LRT line.

In order to commence the rehabilitation, crews had to set up staging areas, which resulted in installation of concrete barriers along the northeast and southeast on-ramps, complete geotechnical testing, clearing and grubbing as well as borehole drilling.

The bridge decks will be built on the layout areas next to the highway to reduce the impact on traffic and minimize the need for lane closures for long periods of time.

Using a highly efficient rapid bridge replacement method, Mosaic will take two weekends in 2020 to install the new decks on the southbound and then the northbound lanes.  Affected lanes and ramps will be closed during the installation but drivers will be notified well in advance and alternative routes will be suggested.

Humber College Campus and Highway 27

The Humber College stop will be built on the Humber College north campus, giving students and residents easy access to the LRT line from two entrances at the southwest corner of Highway 27 and Humber College Boulevard.

The LRT stop and accompanying infrastructure will be built next to Highway 27 and the tracks will continue along Finch Avenue West for 11 kilometres. Before building the Humber College stop, a large water main must be relocated.

Completed activities at this stop include the closure and fencing of parking lot #5 – which will remain closed until the end of construction. As well, there have been soil contamination testing, hydro pole relocation and tree removals. The team has also installed site office trailers.

Other community improvements will be made, including landscaping incorporating trees, shrubs and ornamental grasses at the station, stops and other LRT facilities.

Separate cycling and pedestrian paths as well as pedestrian tunnels will be installed along the route.

So as the next major phases of work have officially kicked off, there’s going to be significant activities along the new transit route.

To learn more about the Finch West LRT project, please click here.

Story by Luiza Sadowski, Metrolinx senior manager, Toronto West community relations.