Eglinton Crosstown West Extension launch shaft takes shape

Teams have been hard at work at the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension tunnel launch site. Learn more about what’s going on behind the construction hoarding, what’s happening next, and how you might be able to leave your own mark on the project.

If you’ve passed by the area of Renforth Drive and Eglinton Avenue West lately, you may have noticed some increased activity.

Fences have been installed around the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension site, drill rigs arrived and construction crews are hard at work as the team from West End Connectors prepares the site for the arrival of the tunnel boring machines in 2022.

The tunnel boring machines that will dig the two tunnels needed for the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension will start their journeys at Renforth Drive and move east towards Scarlett Road, where the line will rise to elevated tracks over the Humber River to Jane, and then move underground again to connect to the future Mount Dennis Station.

Teams are in the process of building the entry points, or launch shafts, for the machines, commonly referred to as ‘TBMs.’

close up of person welding metal
Construction teams are hard at work at the tunnel launch site. (Metrolinx photo)

Earlier this summer, teams began installing the signage that will run along Commerce Drive, Eglinton Avenue West, and Matheson Boulevard. Behind the fences, construction crews used drill rigs to construct a watertight, foundational wall around the launch shaft before beginning excavation.

Construction fences installed along Commerce Drive
New construction fences have been installed along Commerce Drive. (Metrolinx photo)

Holes were drilled 10 to 17 metres deep, depending on the location, and filled with concrete to form what are called ‘piles.’ They make up the watertight walls of the launch shaft, which hold soil and water in place to keep the excavation site stable and safe. West End Connectors completed the piling at the end of August, with 278 piles constructed in less than two months.

Drill rigs at the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension tunnel launch site.
Drill rigs at the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension tunnel launch site in west Toronto. (Metrolinx photo)

Elephant-Sized

Teams are now tackling the other key tasks that need to be completed before the TBMs arrive on site, including reinforcing the walls of the launch shaft and continuing to excavate the area.

A huge amount of excavation needs to happen to accommodate the TBMs, which will dig tunnels with an internal diameter of 5.75 metres – big enough for an adult African Bush elephant, the largest land mammal in the world, to walk comfortably within them.

You Name Them

Once the TBMs arrive from Germany early next year, crews will assemble them onsite before lowering them into the ground to begin tunnelling, which is expected by spring. But before that important work begins happens, Metrolinx is holding a community contest to crowdsource names for the dutiful diggers. Visit the contest website to learn more and submit your suggestions for your chance to win.

Once built, the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension will bring the Eglinton Crosstown LRT another 9.2 kilometres further west, creating a continuous rapid transit line along Eglinton Avenue from the east end of Toronto and into Mississauga, making it easier for more people to get where they are going.

Metrolinx is also collaborating with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority on plans to extend the line even further to Pearson International Airport.

For the latest project information and to get the latest information on upcoming naming contests, visit the project website and follow the project on Twitter @EglintonWestEXT.

Story by Kimberly Murphy, Metrolinx senior advisor, subway program