Wasn't sure if this should go in GO Service or GO Construction, but since it mentions geotechnical I'll add it here.
What’s going on with the GO Train expansion to Oshawa and Clarington?
How work to bring GO train from Oshawa to Clarington is progressing in the pandemic
NEWS Sep 17, 2020 by Jennifer O'Meara Clarington This Week
Without a lot of horn-tooting, it’s hard to tell how much work is progressing during the COVID-19 pandemic on the GO train eastern expansion through downtown Oshawa and into Clarington.
Jim McEwen, a retired Civil Engineer from Bowmanville with over 32 years of infrastructure design experience, said COVID-19 has made it impossible to hold public consultations at Information Centres and he’s very concerned the economic impact of the pandemic might lead the Province to defund or delay the project.
“The citizens of Clarington and central Oshawa have been waiting far too long for this essential infrastructure in Durham Region,” McEwen said via email. “I would like to see the Ontario government and Metrolinx provide a commitment to bring the GO Train to Bowmanville by the year 2025.”
He said he wants to see Metrolinx’s preliminary design for eastern GO Train expansion along the new Option 2 route, announced in February. The route will extend through the current Oshawa GO station connecting to the Canadian Pacific (CP) Railway’s General Motors spur line to cross Highway 401 and connect to the CP rail line north of the 401. There would be four new GO stations at Thornton’s Corners East, Ritson Road (the old Knob Hill Farms), Courtice and Bowmanville.
Since the route announcement and approval in February, public updates have been infrequent to non-existent. However, work on the GO train eastern expansion seems to still be chugging along.
Metrolinx is currently working on an update of their environmental assessment because of changes in their alignment in Oshawa, explained Clarington Manager of Community Planning and Design Carlos Salazar.
Work is also progressing on the preliminary design business case, explained Durham Member of Provincial Parliament Lindsey Park.
“We’re eagerly awaiting that because that’s required to be finished before Metrolinx submits the project to the Ministry of Transportation and Ontario Treasury Board for approval,” said Park.
She added her understanding is Metrolinx was able to work remotely and the pandemic did not much delay the eastern expansion project.
Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney confirmed that although the pandemic has had a great impact, it hasn’t stopped the province from moving forward with some of its important projects.
“As you know, Metrolinx has been working closely with Durham Region on the details of the Bowmanville GO extension and so it’s still proceeding as we intended before the pandemic,” Minister Mulroney said. “It is continuing as planned and we’ll have more to say about that in the future.”
Park confirmed there had been recent meetings between the Ministry of Transportation and Durham Region and local mayors.
“We’re not worried,” said Clarington Mayor Adrian Foster. “I think it’s moving ahead.”
He said to keep residents’ faith the GO train is coming east, there will need to be contracts signed and shovels in the ground before the next provincial election.
“This has been promised for decades,” said Mayor Foster. “It’s time to move forward.
Mayor Foster added local Mayors and the Region of Durham have a meeting with the president of Metrolinx scheduled for later this fall. He said there would likely be more public information on how the project is progressing after that meeting.
Metrolinx did not respond to requests for an update or interview. However, a recent pamphlet from Metrolinx was mailed out to residents near the future train stations.
This September investigative work is beginning along the rail line, according to the mail-out. Along the CP-owned corridor there will be geotechnical investigative work underway. The geotechnical work is necessary preliminary works in advance of Bowmanville Expansion construction.
The geotechnical work means drilling boreholes and testing soil conditions for the future construction of corridor infrastructure. Residents may see a small drill rig, trucks and work crew working within or near the rail corridor. There may be construction noise, vibration and dust. This work will take place during the daytime hours for several months.
While Metrolinx does the geotechnical work, Clarington, Oshawa and the Region of Durham have been working to plan transit-oriented neighbourhoods around the future train stations.
“The development community and property owners around the station are really enthusiastic about planning the area around the stations,” said Salazar.
Soon, Clarington residents will have a chance to help plan the neighbourhoods around the future train stations:
— Future Courtice station is part of the Courtice secondary plan public information centre on Tuesday, Sept. 29 beginning at 7 p.m. by phone (905-623-3379) or online at www.clarington.net/CourticePIC.
— Future Bowmanville station is part of the Bowmanville west secondary plan public information on Thursday, Oct. 1 starting at 7 p.m. by phone (905-623-3379) or online at www.clarington.net/BowmanvilleWestPIC.
“That’s part of our community engagement to ensure we have ideas from the public,” said Salazar. “We hope by that date we have more details from Metrolinx.”
— with files from Tim Kelly.
STORY BEHIND THE STORY: Since the announcement of the GO train route through downtown Oshawa and into Clarington this February, there has been very little public information on how the expansion is progressing. Your Community Newspaper found a lot of planning work is going on behind the scenes and the public will soon have a chance to help plan some of the neighbourhoods around the new stations.
by Jennifer O'Meara
Jennifer O’Meara is a reporter for Metroland Media Group’s Durham Region Division. She can be reached at email@example.com . Follow her on Twitter and DurhamRegion.com on Facebook