Image shows a view overhead of the overpass.

Steeles Avenue East underpass – A look back and what’s to come next in 2022

The end of the year is a time for celebrations and reflection. It’s also a time to appreciate progress, recognize milestones and thank local residents and businesses for their support as work continues to improve transit infrastructure for communities. Take a look back – and a bit ahead – at the construction progress on the Steeles Avenue East underpass in 2021.

Metrolinx has kept residents and customers up to date on the progress at the Steeles Avenue East underpass and it’s a good opportunity to review the highlights of 2021.

If you were a bit distracted and missed any of the advances, this should get you up to speed and ready for 2022.

Visible at the Steeles Avenue East intersection between Kennedy Road and Midland Avenue is the new underpass (which opened on the south side) and rail bridge. Work continues on the north side of the underpass with an estimated completion next summer. By separating the road from the rails, vehicles can pass underneath a railway, without having to stop and wait for trains. It will also improve convenience by allowing for easier traffic flow and reducing traffic times travelling along Steeles Avenue East. Eliminating the at-grade crossing will allow Metrolinx to increase future train speed safely while also reducing congestion for those accessing stores and businesses in the area.

The project supports GO Expansion for future all-day, two-way service on the Stouffville line, with trains every 15 minutes or better. As Metrolinx continues to expand service on the Stouffville line, GO Transit becomes better, faster and easier. This means more frequent service in the middle of day, and on evenings and weekends.

Spring 2021

A major milestone was achieved last spring when traffic was diverted from the temporary detour road to the south side of the new Steeles Avenue East underpass. On the south side of the underpass, crews removed the existing watermain beneath the roadway and completed the installation of a new one. The contractor also completed roadway construction, built new curbs, a bike lane and a new sidewalk.

Image shows a construction site.
Snapshot of crews working on the underpass, south side – March 2021. (Metrolinx photo)
Underpass on the south side – Crews are putting the finishing touches on the sidewalks and bike lanes. Early April 2021. (Metrolinx photo)
Image shows a steamroller.
Underpass south side grading and paving – Late April 2021. (Metrolinx photo)
Image shows an underpass road.
Underpass south side – Four lanes of traffic opened early May 2021. (Metrolinx photo)

After the traffic change to the south side of the underpass, crews were able to complete excavation and begin construction of the retaining walls on the north side of the underpass. Work on the north side will continue into 2022.

Image shows tractors working.
Underpass north side excavation – May 2021. (Metrolinx photo)
Image shows tractors working.
Underpass north side excavation – June 2021. (Metrolinx photo)

Fall 2021

Work has also progressed on the construction of the staircases and elevator structures. These will provide an accessible and safe route from Steeles Avenue East to the Milliken GO Station platforms via pedestrian bridges running parallel to the rail bridge. Preparation activities for the installation of the bridges are underway and they will be lifted into place early next year.

Image shows a view overhead of the overpass.
Work continues at the retaining walls, staircases and elevators – September 2021. (Metrolinx photo).

Pumping Station

As part of the grade separation works, a storm water pumping station is being constructed within the underpass. The pump station is an important part of the Steeles Avenue East underpass. During heavy rainfalls, the pumping station will ensure that water collected in the basin of the roadway is properly drained, pumped out, and redistributed. The construction of the pump station began this summer with electrical and mechanical works continuing into next year.

Storm tank concrete pour for walls and roof – September 2021. (Metrolinx photo)

Steeles Avenue East Road Widening

In addition to Steeles Avenue East getting an underpass, it is also being widened from four to six lanes. This required extensive excavations on either side of the underpass. The contractor has made significant progress this year, and major roadworks west of the rail bridge are now complete. Road widening work includes utility relocation, mass excavation, installation of new wet and dry utility services, construction of retaining walls, backfill of road foundation, asphalt placement and landscaping both hard and soft (sidewalks, grass, etc.).

Image looks down on the roadway work.
Steeles Avenue East road widening and reconstruction progress – September 2021. (Metrolinx photo)

What’s to come

Moving into the new year, crews will continue road widening and reconstruction east of the rail bridge, install street lighting and perform final paving and line painting of the roadway in the spring 2022. Once complete, the north and south side of the underpass will be fully open increasing road capacity with a total of six traffic lanes. The new infrastructure will provide improved connections for GO train passengers and enhanced safety for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles.

For more information on the Steeles Avenue East underpass just go here.

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Story by Teresa Ko, Metrolinx senior advisor