Eglinton Crosstown LRT won't be ready until 'well into 2022,' Metrolinx says
Councillors call on province, Metrolinx to provide financial compensation to businesses, residents
Transit users in Toronto will have to wait until "well into 2022" before they can ride the Eglinton Crosstown, Metrolinx says.
The 19-km light rail line was previously scheduled to open to the public in September 2021.
In a statement released Tuesday, Metrolinx president and CEO Phil Verster attributed much of the delay to the group of private companies building the $5.3-billion project in partnership with the province, Crosslinx Transit Solutions (CTS).
Verster says that CTS has "faced a number of challenges," including starting construction nine months later than initially planned. Further, he says, the consortium was "slow to finalize" design elements.
While the pace of construction has sped up since 2018, CTS "has only achieved 84 per cent of its target, meaning the project will be delayed," Verster continues.
Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney outlined new transit legislation today at Queen's Park, saying the government's goal is to streamline and accelerate new projects.
"Our plan, if passed, would give Metrolinx the authority to require stronger co-ordination of utility relocations within prescribed time frames," she said.
Watch: Transportation minister Caroline Mulroney speaks about new transit legislation
Verster's statement also points to defective concrete discovered beneath Eglinton-Yonge Station that is expected to delay the opening of the LRT part of the station even further.
"It is expected that the LRT will open well into 2022," Verster says.
He declines to be any more specific, saying that "CTS must prove to us that they can achieve the new production rates they say they can achieve."
Compensate businesses, residents, councillors say
Two Toronto councillors who represent the wards near Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue said the delay announced on Tuesday is the "breaking point" for residents and businesses along the 19-kilometre route.
Coun. Mike Colle, who represents Ward 8, Eglinton-Lawrence, and Coun. Josh Matlow, who represents Ward 12, Toronto-St. Paul's, told reporters at a news conference on Tuesday afternoon that they are proposing a three-point plan, calling on the provincial government, Metrolinx and their contractors to:
- Provide financial compensation to small business tenants and owners along Eglinton Avenue on the Crosstown construction route.
- Get rid of "construction debris" on Eglinton Avenue West immediately on sidewalks and road allowances.
- Consider opening parts of the line as soon as possible so that residents do not have to wait until two years to ride the line.
"Because of the delay, people have been hanging on by their fingernails. They can't hang on for another two years. We have to have compensation for the small business tenants so they can survive," Colle said.
More than 100 businesses have closed on Eglinton Avenue because of the construction, Colle added. He said it has been nine years of "construction hell."
Matlow said small businesses and local communities have been treated like "collateral damage" by the Ford government and Metrolinx for years. The businesses need to survive, residents need to be respected and some of the line should be opened, he said.
"We recognize that transit is the dream that we want, but construction is the nightmare for businesses and local residents alike," Matlow said.
Construction began in 2011
The first phase of the Eglinton Crosstown will have 25 stations, and run from the future Mount Dennis Station in the west to Kennedy Station in the east, where it will connect with TTC lines 2 and 3. More than 10 km of the line — from Keele Street to Laird Avenue — will run underground.
Construction began in 2011 and its completion dates has been delayed once before, from 2020 to 2021, by the previous Liberal government.
The project is owned by Metrolinx but will be operated by the TTC.
When are the city's next wave of transit projects set to open?
Ontario Line — The province has repeatedly said the line will open "as early as 2027."
Scarborough subway — Ontario's 2019 fall economic statement says the reworked three-stop subway project will be open between 2029-2030.
Yonge Subway extension — The Line 1 extension to Richmond Hill will be running between 2029-2030, the Ontario government says.
Eglinton Crosstown West extension — Ontario plans to open this line by 2030-2031.
Finch West LRT — In a 2019 report, the City of Toronto said it expects the line to be open by 2023.