With construction of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT targeted for completion in 2020, officials are in a hurry to get tunneling and get working on the largest transit infrastructure project in Provincial history. The only thing missing were names for the four machines doing all the heavy drilling. 

Tunnel Boring Machine names revealed as Dennis, Lea, Don and Humber, image by UT member Jason Paris

In October 2012 Metrolinx announced a near month long contest public contest to name the tunnel boring machines (TBM). After getting over 550 entries, Metrolinx narrowed them down to these top four names, Dennis Lea, Don and Humber.

Tunnel boring machine drive system and sediment trailer, image by UT member Jason Paris

Crosstown TBM cutter head, image by UT member Jason Paris

Ontario Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Glen Murray, Metrolinx CEO Bruce McCuaig, and MPP Laura Albanese joined with construction crews and the four winning entry submitters at the massive TBM Western Launch Shaft at Eglinton Avenue and the Black Creek. All got an up close look at the excavation so far and the massive machines. Long time UrbanToronto member and moderator Jason Paris provided the winning submisson for two of the machines which will be named Dennis and Lea. Jason said, "Toronto is a city of neighbourhoods" alluding to the Mount Dennis and Leaside communities on either side of the underground portion of the line. The names also recall Toronto's first Poet Laureate, Dennis Lee.

Tunnel Boring Machine in Launch Shaft looking west, image by UT member Jason Paris

To round off the event, Minister Murray flipped the switch, starting the multi-year drilling process. Described by Jason as a loud "groaning and shaking," the TBM set off for the first drive of the two western TBMs toward Eglinton West Station where the Crosstown will connect with the Spadina line.

Tunnel Boring Machine ready to start drilling westbound, imaoge by Jason Paris

The largest part of the TBM system, the Launch Shaft, was constructed over a two year period starting in summer 2011. Multiple pile driving rigs were used to form the outer retaining wall while crews excavated in from nearby Keelesdale Park. The entire launch shaft takes up an area larger than a hockey rink while sitting more than 3 storeys below the busy traffic and life of Eglinton Avenue West above.

Tunnel Boring Machine drill head and drive, image by UT member Jason Paris

As the Crosstown Line continues to take shape, Urban Toronto will keep you updated. Interested in learning more about the Crosstown Project or the many stations being built around the City? Then check out our dataBase pages and Forum Discussion to get in on the action.

Related Companies:  Crosslinx Transit Solutions, Daoust Lestage Architecture, GFL Environmental Inc., IBI Group, LEA Consulting, Metrolinx, NORR Architects, SvN, Toronto Transit Commission