By 2020, Eglinton West Station will be one of the many stops on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, greatly improving transit connectivity and traffic at the Allen and Eglinton intersection. Just don't expect traffic to be moving there this weekend. What will be moving at Allen and Eglinton this weekend are the massive tunnel boring machines (TBMs) Dennis and Lea, which will be hoisted from an extraction shaft on the west side of Allen Road, over to a launch shaft on the east side, in a lengthy, complicated, and delicate operation.

Tunnel boring machines Dennis and Lea in the extraction shaft west of Allen Road, April 15 2015, image by Jack Landau

Each machine has bored through 3,574 metres of earth between Black Creek and The Allen and broke through to the extraction shaft earlier this year. The process of moving the TBMs will start on Friday and continue throughout the weekend. With each TBM weighing approximately 400 tonnes, the ten-metre long and six-metre wide objects have been partially disassembled to make the move possible.

Tunnel boring machines Dennis and Lea in the extraction shaft west of Allen Road, April 15 2015, image by Jack Landau

Massive gantry cranes are now in place above both the extraction and launch shafts, ready to lift and lower. Once the TBMs have been reassembled, the next phase of tunnelling can begin. This is anticipated to start this June. TMBs Dennis and Lea, named after the neighbourhoods of Mount Dennis and Leaside, while also recalling Toronto's first Poet Laureate Dennis Lee, will meet TBMs Humber and Don at Yonge Street next year.

Gantry crane towering over the launch shaft east of Allen Road, April 15 2015, image by Jack Landau

Getting the TBMs from one side of Allen Road to the other won't be easy, and heavy equipment and careful engineering are being employed to get the job done. After hoisting the partially disassembled TBMs out of the extraction shaft, the western gantry crane will load the machinery onto a self-propelled modular trailer. That trailer will shuttle the heavy gear from one shaft to the other over multiple trips. This large driverless machine consists of a flat bed resting on 13 rows of wheels, each row containing 16 wheels. As you can imagine, 208 wheels plus several tonnes of metal is quite a bit of weight for a city road. To ensure a smooth ride and prevent damage to Eglinton West subway station below, a temporary bridge deck has been built to reinforce the road in advance of the big move.

Gantry crane over the extraction shaft west of Allen Road, April 15 2015, image by Jack Landau

To mark the imminent milestone, Metrolinx President and CEO Bruce McCuaig was joined today by Davenport MPP Cristina Martins, St. Pauls MPP and Minister of Health and Long Term Care Dr. Eric Hoskins, and Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation.

Cristina Martins, Steven Del Duca, and Dr. Eric Hoskins, image by Jack Landau

"The progress we're seeing on this project is very exciting - a true reflection of the important investments in transit made in the GTA," said Bruce McCuaig. "The Eglinton Crosstown LRT is a significant undertaking and it will transform the transit landscape in Toronto when complete."

Metrolinx President and CEO Bruce McCuaig, image by Jack Landau

In what seems to be a recognition of the immense following major infrastructure projects like the Eglinton Crosstown LRT have, Metrolinx will be setting up bleachers - yes, bleachers - for transit, construction and engineering enthusiasts to view the action from an elevated position. Metrolinx promises hot chocolate for the late-night viewers this weekend.

We will return next week with an update on the complex TBM move. Until then, you can get involved in the discussion by visiting our Forum thread on the Crosstown, linked here.

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