Image shows fencing.

How the Hurontario Light Rail Transit project is trying to save the planet – or at least support sustainability

Being kind with Mother Nature is an important plus for a light rail route. But the ways the Hurontario project are working to be environmentally friendly during construction include pretty much every nook and cranny of the transit line. Here’s the check list.

From where your tin cans are put as you prepare supper to how long you leave the water running as you brush your teeth, sustainability measures are part of our lives.

And the same is true for major transit projects, including the Hurontario Light Rail Transit (HuLRT) project.

The very nature of light rail transit is a sustainable approach as it uses clean, electrically powered vehicles, producing near zero emissions. Once it is operating, the Hazel McCallion Line will aid in a substantial reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants.

Image shows fencing.
Here’s a barrier that’s in place to protect the environment. (Metrolinx photo)

Not only does the new transit line get cars off the road, ultimately resulting in fewer emission-producing vehicles during peak commuting periods, but as it’s electrically powered, it’s a more sustainable, environmentally conscious way to travel and get to work every day.

As more wind and solar energy become available, the portion of power supplied to the transit line will continue to increase in its green origins.

Speaking of being green, here are a few more of the sustainability elements built into the delivery of this LRT project.

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A home for recycled concrete. (Metrolinx photo)

Environmental Control Stockpile

The Cooksville Warehouse, located at 3194 Hurontario Street, houses environmental controls and materials for the project. They include material, such as emergency response kits, used to quickly deal with any spills.

Prior to construction staging, work sites are fitted with necessary environmental controls to manage hazardous materials (such as fuels) and minimize the risk and impact of an environmental spill, should one occur. This helps project sites stay clean and accessible.

Managing Salt Risks

During these cold months, many are familiar with getting a white coating on shoes and hearing the crunch of salt under foot.

Salt is necessary along the corridor to keep workers and community members safe and construction running smoothly in winter.

With that in mind, the HuLRT project constructor, Mobilinx, follows standard industry best practices around salt use, and winter maintenance is consistently coordinated with the Cities of Mississauga and Brampton. The project is smart about salt in many ways:

  • Poor detailed designs and construction defects can lead to the infiltration of salt and moisture into building materials, and high standards in these areas are a couple of the many reasons the HuLRT’s Light Rail Transit is better and safer for everyone
  • Costs to repair damages to concrete, bridges and vehicles is more than $800 per tonne of road salt, therefore this project uses salt sustainably to mitigate potential damages which could lead to wasteful practices around material use
  • Road salt has the potential to kill vegetation including trees. To minimize the impacts of the construction on nearby trees, vegetation, and wildlife habitats, crews look to employ best management practices for their protection

Other Sustainability Measures

Water is sprayed on a dusty lot.
Here’s an example of dust control. (Metrolinx photo)

The approach to project delivery prioritizes a variety of additional sustainability measures to put people and the planet first. A few of these include:

  • The delivery team is pursuing an award under the Envision Sustainability International Rating System (Institute of Sustainable Infrastructure) that recognizes the achievements toward sustainable infrastructure 
  • Construction vehicle idling was reduced by 25 per cent in 2021, lessening greenhouse gas emissions, reducing noise and air pollution, and saving fuel while reducing incidents of equipment maintenance. Commitments to reducing idling are continuing in 2022
  • Evaluating contracts and purchasing through an ecological lens to prioritize sustainability in the supply chain. Since 2009, Metrolinx has been certifying stations and facilities to Canadian Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard. To date, that has led to five LEED Gold and two LEED Silver certified stations and facilities.
  • Designing the project to incorporate Low Impact Development (LID) measures to promote the retention of precipitation on site rather than diversion to stormwater sewers. LID measures being considered for use in the project delivery include onsite filtration (such as permeable pavers, minimizing paved surfaces), physical retention and reuse of water (rainwater harvesting) and bioretention (bioswales and ponds)
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Bins and bins of recycling material are regularly collected. (Metrolinx photo)

With so many technological advancements occurring in the construction and transportation industries, green and renewable projects will continue to play a vital role in the coming years – and this project is no exception.

Continue to follow all of the project’s progress on Twitter @HurontarioLRT.