Keeping up to speed on the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension – What’s happening next with the project

The Eglinton Crosstown West Extension is getting closer to breaking ground, with crews working to make sure there’s a clear path for construction. Here’s a look at all the work that’s happening now and in the near future as the project moves steadily forward.

If you’ve ever tried to paint your walls like a pro, you know that careful preparation is key to success; taking the time to get all the surfaces ready at the outset means you’ll be on a roll when you finally start painting.

The same principle applies to the work that’s happening along the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension, where crews are preparing the route for future construction.

Once the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension is up and running, it will bring the Crosstown light rail transit (LRT) line 9.2 kilometres further west, creating a continuous rapid transit line along Eglinton Ave. from Scarborough into Mississauga.

Image shows a map.
Map of the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension. (Metrolinx image)

With seven new stops, the extension will close an important transit gap along Eglinton Avenue West between the future Mount Dennis Station and Renforth Station – and work is already well underway to close it.

Tunnel Work

Tunnel construction will be the first major package of work for the project, with Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario to award the tunnelling contract soon. But what you might not know is that work is already happening along the corridor to prepare for tunnel construction to begin.

Before the tunnel boring machines can launch next year, it’s important to consider the infrastructure that already exists in their path. The project team has been able to significantly reduce the impacts to the existing underground infrastructure along Eglinton Avenue West by designing the proposed tunnel alignment around many of the existing utilities. Where that wasn’t possible, utilities are being relocated to areas where they won’t interfere with future construction and some of that work is underway now. Over the next several months, work is happening between Martin Grove Rd. and Scarlett Rd. to relocate telecommunications lines. Metrolinx is also using radar-based locating devices and small drill rigs to investigate the exact location of other utilities that will have also have to moved.

Image of a worker beside a pit.
There are many complexities when utilities overlap a project corridor. (Metrolinx photo)

The tunnel launch site is also an area teams are focussing on, since it’s where the two tunnel boring machines will be assembled and lowered into the ground for the twin-bore tunnels. A tunnel launch site for a transit project is similar to a base camp for mountaineers – it’s the place where the climb really begins. Work is already underway at Renforth and Eglinton to prepare the site and monitor underground conditions ahead of excavation. Power to the site is expected to be delivered to the site this spring so the tunnelling contractor will be able to hit the ground running once they come on board.

Image shows boring machines in a pit.
Big dig – Tunnel boring machines for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. (Metrolinx photo)

As well, 88 boreholes have already been drilled along the corridor to date. These boreholes help Metrolinx with groundwater testing and monitoring and understanding soil conditions.

Stations, Rail and More

And it’s not just about getting ready for tunnel construction. There is also work happening between Renforth and Mount Dennis Station to prepare for the stations, rail and systems infrastructure that will be built, which is planned to start in 2025. Ground investigations, including an additional 65 boreholes, will take place the next few months, mostly between Scarlett Ave. and Weston Rd, to assist with the design of the elevated stations at Jane and Scarlett,  the elevated guideway, and section of tunnel that will tie into the track at Mount Dennis Station. Surveys that will inform the project design and construction planning are also underway, such as environmental and topographical surveys and tree and vegetation inventories.

The Eglinton Crosstown West Extension is being delivered through two main contracts – the advance tunnelling contract and the stations, rail and systems contract. The advance tunnelling contract helps the project kickstart important tunnelling works while the preliminary design work advances at the same time for the stations, rail and systems plans for the extension.

Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario expect to award the tunnelling contract this spring, with the successful bidder breaking ground at the tunnel launch site around the middle of this year.

Work is continuing on the Preliminary Design Business Case for the project. The Preliminary Design Business Case further refines the scope, design and costs of the project, which will provide more detailed information about what the alignment will look like.

As well, plans are being explored between Metrolinx, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority and municipalities for a potential connection to Pearson International Airport.

Naming the Boring Machines

As the project continues to advance, Metrolinx will continue to host more opportunities for the community to review plans and share feedback. Later this year, there will even be a naming contest to select unique names for the tunnel boring machines that will be used to build the tunnel for the project, like there was for the under-construction Eglinton Crosstown LRT project to the east.

Metrolinx’s dedicated community relations team continues to be available by phone and email to provide the latest updates and answer any community questions. Stay tuned for a virtual drop-in session with the project team planned for later in March.

Visit Metrolinx.com/EglintonWest for all the latest project details and to get in touch with the team.

Story by Kimberly Murphy, Metrolinx senior advisor, Subways.