This morning marked an important milestone for the Crosstown LRT, as westward tunnelling ceremonially commenced for what is being touted as the single largest transportation infrastructure project under way in North America. Tunnel boring machines 'Don' and 'Humber' are now in place and prepared to begin their long journey from their current position at the Brentcliffe Road launch shaft at the east end of the tunnel, over to Yonge Street. At Yonge, the east and west legs meet. The west leg is currently being dug by TBMs 'Dennis' and 'Lea'. 

Eglinton Crosstown LRT, tunnel boring machine, TorontoTunnel boring machines 'Humber' and 'Don', image by Jack Landau

To mark the milestone, Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig was joined by Minister of Transportation Steven Del Duca, and Mitzie Hunter, MPP for Scarborough-Guildwood, all of whom made remarks about the important step forward for the light rail project. “The Crosstown will not only transform the transit landscape for Toronto residents, but it will also help improve connections to the region’s transportation system. The progress we’re making on this project is a true reflection of the important transit investments being made in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area”, said McCuaig.

Eglinton Crosstown LRT, tunnel boring machine, TorontoMetrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig speaking at the Crosstown west TBM launch, image by Jack Landau

After some brief remarks, Steven Del Duca and Mitzie Hunter both flipped the switch and set the northern tunnel boring machine, 'Don', in motion.

Eglinton Crosstown LRT, tunnel boring machine, TorontoSteven Del Duca and Mitzie Hunter flip the switch to engage one the TBMs, image by Jack Landau

With the switch flipped, Don immediately began rotating, while simultaneously spraying the lubricant foam used to ease the tunnelling process. At the same time, the conveyer belts that transport the excavated material from the tunnels kicked into motion.

The display was brief though, and minutes after it began, the 10 metre long, 6.5 metre wide, 400-tonne Don had once again fallen silent as media dispersed from the launch site. The start of actual westward tunnelling is set to begin on September 29, and is estimated to crawl westward at about 15 metres per day.

Eglinton Crosstown LRT, tunnel boring machine, TorontoTunnel boring machines 'Humber' and 'Don', image by Jack Landau

Construction of the east leg of tunnel has been in the works for some time, with work leading up to this milestone having started with launch site digging in June 2013. There have been some delays though, and this morning's media preview revealed that the planned start of revenue service on the line has now been adjusted to September 2021.

Eglinton Crosstown LRT, tunnel boring machine, TorontoEast-facing view of the west launch shaft at Brentcliffe and Eglinton, image by Jack Landau

The completed line will stretch 19 kilometres and 25 stations and stops through central Toronto along Eglinton Avenue, including 10 kilometres of underground tunnel between Keele Street and Laird Drive. The line will connect with many surface bus routes, the Yonge-University subway line twice and the Bloor-Danforth line once, and GO Transit at Mount Dennis and Caledonia stations. The LRT will move up to 60% faster than the myriad of surface bus routes currently serving Eglinton Avenue.

Eglinton Crosstown LRT, tunnel boring machine, TorontoCrews in the launch shaft waving for the camera, image by Jack Landau

With the tunnel boring machines preparing to push west, we look forward to providing more updates on this large-scale infrastructure project as work progresses. in the meantime, additional information about the line's stations can be found in the dataBase files, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum threads, or leave a comment in the space provided at the bottom of this page.