Metrolinx continues to advance this $4 to 6 billion, 8km project to extend the Yonge Subway northward into York Region. The activities over the past 2 years provide interesting insights into major transit project management and execution.
As readers recall from our last posting (June, 2021), there was extensive controversy and resident anger about the chosen route in the northern segment through Markham/Thornhill (“green route”). Residents were concerned that this ran under dozens of residential properties. In mid-2021, Transport Action Ontario (TAO) suggested an alternate route (“yellow route”) using cut and cover under the vacant Langstaff lands. This was much more popular with the community. Metrolinx studied the yellow route extensively, and finally concluded in early 2022 that it was technically feasible, but not preferred due to higher cost, complex construction, technical constraints (tighter curves, steeper inclines, slower train speeds), and impacts to future development.
Possibly in an attempt to placate local residents, Metrolinx announced that a 40 – 50 meter deep station at Royal Orchard Blvd would be added to the project, with station costs borne by the Province’s Transit Oriented Communities program.
In February, 2022, York Region Council approved the green route. The amended Environmental Project Report was completed by Metrolinx one month later.
In September, 2022, a contract was awarded to complete early upgrades to Finch Station to accommodate the extension (electrical and fire connections). Construction is underway. Work is also underway for advance utilities relocations along Yonge St. Agreement has also been reached with CN for use of their corridor for the at-grade portion of the extension.
The procurement plan for the project will involve two major contracts:
- Advance Tunneling contract, planned as a Design-Build-Finance. The RFQ was released in April, 2023. Release of the RFP is planned for late 2023 with contract award in 2024. Excavation for the launch shaft is expected in late 2024, and arrival of the tunnel boring machines in late 2025. Two twin bore tunnels are planned.
- Stations, Rail and Systems contract, likely to be a Progressive Design-Build. Timing TBD.
Metrolinx is also engaged in corridor protection. Under the Build Transit Faster Act, lands in the corridor have been designated as Transit Corridor Lands (TCLs). Both TCLs and lands within a prescribed distance (eg 30 meters) must obtain a Corridor Development Permit prior to construction (eg pool, building, shed). This restriction is registered on title in the Land Registry Office. To date, there have apparently been no issues with designations or permits.
Metrolinx is also negotiating with property owners for temporary or permanent property acquisition. In some cases, only subsurface acquisition will be required. No information is publicly available on how this is working out.
Finally, workshops are being held with municipal staff on station design. No information is yet available to the public on this topic.
In conclusion, following resolution of the controversial routing issue, progress on this project appears to have been steady. TAO looks forward to a continued smooth path.