Year-long closure of Allen Road reviewed
Boring of LRT tunnels will begin in 2014
The Eglinton Crosstown light rail transit (LRT) line is hitting road blocks as the provincial transportation agency Metrolinx attempts to push the project forward. Currently, the agency is in the process of consulting the public on the possibility of extending the tunnel by 2 km at its east end.
In early January, Metrolinx made the proposal to extend the tunnel to Don Mills Road instead of Brentcliffe Road, which would take the underground portion of the line to 12 km. If extended, stops at Leslie Street and Ferrand Drive would be eliminated to save on cost.
Meanwhile, to the west, Metrolinx is being asked to look into alternative construction methods to avoid the closure of the northbound Allen Expressway. If not, commuters will lose access to Allen for most of 2014.
Toronto’s director of transportation John Mende said that, when he first received the official proposal to close the northbound Allen from Eglinton to Lawrence, he was worried about the impact.
“I can’t recall a similar closing of such a major facility for such a long period of time,” said Mende, who has more than 25 years of experience with the city. “We’ve closed major facilities before, like the Gardiner or the DVP [Don Valley Parkway], for a weekend, but this — we’re talking a full year.”
Mende and the city wanted to find a better solution.
“Before we decided on whether to consider and report on this proposal, we asked them to look into any alternatives that would eliminate the need to close.”
Metrolinx has been able to consider several alternate solutions, including boring a narrower tunnel underneath the Spadina subway line, allowing for smaller utilities, and disposing of the black muck from the construction onto Black Creek Drive instead of Allen. Though they have yet to submit a proposal, Mende expected that the city would have alternatives to examine by the end of January.
“I’m frankly very excited by this extra gesture that Metrolinx is showing as a strategy,” said Ward 21 councillor Joe Mihevc. “Allen is a vital corridor in the city. Construction is going to be difficult enough.”