The construction of Metrolinx's Crosstown LRT pushes on in central Toronto, as Crosslinx crews work to create a new 19-kilometre light rail transit line that includes a 10-kilometre stretch underneath Eglinton Avenue between Keele Street and Laird Drive. We closely followed the project's tunnelling from the Spring 2013 launch of Tunnel Boring Machines (TBMs) Dennis and Lea, (a contest-winning name suggested by UrbanToronto member Jason Paris!). Dennis and Lea completed tunnelling for the leg west of Yonge just over one year ago, followed by the completion of the east tunnels a few months later.

Just east of the Black Creek Drive and Eglinton Avenue intersection at Keelesdale Park—the site where work began on the project a few years ago—the west portal to the line's underground section remains a busy work site. To show how far along the project currently is, a media tour of the site was conducted earlier today, giving us a rare peek into the Crosstown's unfinished tunnels.

Crosstown LRT, Metrolinx, Toronto, EglintonSite of the Crosstown's west portal, image by Jack Landau

The west tunnel portal is accessed via a “box-piece”, which is a squared concrete tunnel section that connects with the main bored tunnels to the east. This box piece sits in an excavated pit that current work crews inherited from tunnel workers after the digging of a launch shaft. Now braced with horizontal struts and tiebacks, the pit is expected to be backfilled soon, and the road above to be reinstalled in September or October, relieving a long-standing lane restriction on this stretch of Eglinton.

Crosstown LRT, Metrolinx, Toronto, EglintonExcavated pit for the Crosstown's west portal, image by Jack Landau

In the view from within the pit visible above, the large concrete wall on the left side of the image marks the outer shell of the aforementioned tunnel box piece, made up of a two-section box-shaped concrete structure that contains the westernmost sections of tunnel on the line. 

Crosstown LRT, Metrolinx, Toronto, EglintonView through the box piece towards the bored tunnels, image by Jack Landau

Passing through the narrow passageway of concrete support jacks and a scaffold, the box section leads into the mouths of the twin tunnels. Here, crews are in the midst of the tunnel's "invert pour" stage, where layers of concrete are being added to the base of the curved tunnel walls to create a flat surface that will eventually support the tracks that trains will run on.

Crosstown LRT, Metrolinx, Toronto, EglintonInside the Crosstown tunnels, image by Jack Landau

Bored and lined with concrete tunnel liners at a diameter of 5.75 metres, the rounded tunnel is being heavily modified to support the Bombardier or Alstom-made light rail vehicles. An initial first stage of concrete pouring has already been completed between the west portal and Avenue Station, including the breaks in tunnel where the stations will be.

Crosstown LRT, Metrolinx, Toronto, EglintonPoured concrete surface taking shape near the west portal, image by Jack Landau

Pouring concrete in such a confined environment requires some specialized equipment, including scaled-down concrete trucks special-ordered from Italy. These trucks work in pairs, and like the line's TBMs, have been given playful names. Pictured below is "Ana" which works in tandem with sibling truck "Elsa", a nod to the popular Disney princesses. Other trucks being used on the line include Mario and Luigi, and Donatello and Leonardo.

Crosstown LRT, Metrolinx, Toronto, Eglinton"Ana" pouring concrete near the west portal, image by Jack Landau

There is still plenty of work left to do once these concrete pours are complete, including the installation of an overhead catenary system throughout the tunnels, providing power for the trains. Construction of an elevated guideway connecting the tunnel with the Maintenance Storage Facility (MSF) to the northwest will begin shortly, with work continuing into next year. 

Crosstown LRT, Metrolinx, Toronto, EglintonInside the Crosstown tunnels, image by Jack Landau

Just northwest of the west portal, work on Mount Dennis Station is expected to significantly accelerate in the coming months, with the station's concrete and steel structure expected to be in place by the end of the Fall. An existing railway corridor running through the Mount Dennis site has been freed up, and track relocation work is expected to commence soon. This work is necessary to make way for construction of the eastern half of the station, as well as a pedestrian passageway.

Crosstown LRT, Metrolinx, Toronto, EglintonConnection between the main tunnel and box piece, image by Jack Landau

We will return with updates as work on the line progresses. In the meantime, you can get involved in the discussion by visiting the associated Forum threads, or by leaving a comment in the field provided at the bottom of this page.