Eglinton East LRT Update, June 2022 – Steve Munro -

Eglinton East LRT Update, June 2022 – Steve Munro

Two reports are on Toronto’s Executive Committee Agenda for June 8, 2022. Between them, they provide updates for various rapid transit projects around the city.

Rather than attempting a single, omnibus article covering all of the projects, I will break the review apart on a line-by-line basis. This is the first in a series of articles.

I will update this article if any further details come out in the Executive Committee meeting.

A Scarborough Network

Several projects over coming decades will change the transit map in Scarborough including the Line 2 Danforth Subway extension to Sheppard, the Line 4 Sheppard Subway extension to McCowan, the Durham-Scarborough BRT, GO service expansion on the Lakeshore East and Stouffville corridors, and the Eglinton East LRT.

Eglinton East LRT

This version of the plan has changed since the last report to Council on the subject. See Eglinton East & Waterfront LRT Updates for the December 2021 iteration.

  • The EELRT as shown in this plan includes a leg west to McCowan where it would connect to the extended Lines 2 and 4. The report speaks of “the future transit hub at Sheppard and McCowan” [p. 7] and implies that plans for a subway extension east from McCowan have fallen off of the table.
  • The planned Maintenance and Storage Facility (MSF) has shifted back to the site on Sheppard at Conlins originally proposed in Transit City. This would have been a joint carhouse for the Sheppard, Scarborough-Malvern and (possibly) Scarborough LRT lines. In the December 2021 report the MSF was to be near the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus (UTSC), but they now eye this land for development.
  • The connection at Kennedy Station has been substantially modified to be on the surface east of the GO station. This is needed because the scheme to stack tunnels for the Line 2 extension and the EELRT proved unworkable.
  • Because the EELRT will operate as a separate service from Line 5 Crosstown, it can operate with 50m trains compared to the 90m that Crosstown is built for. This reduces the space needed for stations, and allows the EELRT to stay on the surface through the Kingston Road & Morningside intersection where the original plan had an underpass.
  • The northeastern terminus of the EELRT will be at Malvern Centre. The previous plan had an option of ending a first phase at UTSC with the inevitable question of whether a second phase would ever be built.

The “Distinct Service” Model

With the EELRT split off from the Crosstown Line 5, it will have its own fleet and service design that are no tied to requirements west of Kennedy Station. Two options for Kennedy terminal were considered:

  • An at grade link with the EELRT swinging south out of the Eglinton Avenue median to terminate on the east side of the GO corridor.
  • An elevated link that would rise from Eglinton and swing south to use the space now occupied by the Line 3 SRT station on the upper level.

The at grade option has an estimated cost saving of up to $650 million (2022$) compared to the elevated scheme, and it will not require demolition of properties along Eglinton. Travel time for the elevated option would be approximately 30 seconds shorter than the at grade option.

The fleet would be specific to the EELRT and would be designed to operate on steeper grades than the Line 5 trains. This would avoid the need for a new bridge over Highland Creek. The TTC is “assessing the market” for suitable vehicles, and the report cites examples used in “Kitchener-Waterloo, Edmonton, Calgary, Portland, and New Jersey”. The option of a separate fleet disentangles the EELRT from the Metrolinx consortium building and maintaining Line 5, and this could be a return to a “TTC” line after the business models used for the Crosstown and Ontario Line projects.

The Conlins MSF property can accommodate the needs of the “distinct” option to 2051 and beyond.

The projected cost, at a low level of design, is that the “distinct” model would run to $3.9 billion 2022$ for the Kennedy to Malvern portion, compared to about $6 billion for a through-routed design with Line 5 Crosstown.

The cost savings are mainly attributed to the alignment remaining at-grade along its entire length, using existing road infrastructure, requiring less property acquisition, and using shorter trains and platforms. [p. 10]

Construction would be faster with no grade separations, and the line could open “in the early or mid-2030s” or 3-to-4 years sooner than a Line 5 extension.

It is mildly amusing to see a simplified LRT proposal touting the benefits of at-grade construction with service scaled to likely demand, an argument that is usually fought over subway vs LRT proposals.

Planning is underway for a surface LRT east from Sheppard-McCowan Station.

City staff have initiated discussion with Metrolinx to begin planning for an at-grade EELRT interface with the SSE at Sheppard-McCowan Station. Subject to City Council approval of the recommendations in this report, City staff will continue planning with Metrolinx to identify a preferred EELRT interface design at Sheppard-McCowan Station and will submit a formal request in fall 2022 to the Metrolinx SSE project team to accommodate the design plans accordingly. [p. 11]

With the EELRT going across Highway 401, it is important that infrastructure capable of handling an LRT line is in place. The Province plans to rehab the Morningside Bridges at Highway 401 in 2025, and they will incorporate EELRT requirements into this project.

Public consultation for the EELRT would take place in 2023Q1 with an updated status report to Council in Q3.

Kennedy Station Options

The drawing below shows the original proposal for both the SSE and EELRT to be underground at Kennedy. The two tunnels (SSE in black, EELRT in red) would have run side-by-side, although at different elevations, but would be on top of each other as the EELRT swung into the middle of Eglinton Avenue and surfaced. Note that the Midland Station on the EELRT would be underground in this scheme.

There are several points where structures are too close together either tunnel-to-tunnel, or tunnel adjacent objects.

Two “families” of options, one at grade (blue) and one elevated (red) were examined (left diagram below) and the best of each was reviewed in more detail to compare them (right diagram below).

The at grade option has a surface station at Midland with a three-track section to the east. This is to provide storage that would not be available at Kennedy Station where the surface LRT dead-ends east of the GO corridor. The LRT would swing south from Eglinton into its own corridor, and the station at Kennedy would connect into an existing underpass.

The elevated alignment would swing to the north side of Eglinton and serve Midland with an elevated station on the northeast corner of that intersection. The line would climb further and its Kennedy Station platform would be roughly where the existing SRT platform is today. Tail tracks beyond the station would provide for train storage.

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