The TTC opened up its Union Station construction site this week to members of the media, where work is proceeding on an additional subway platform.
The $161.5 million project, which began in May 2011, is part of an extensive renovation of Union Station and is expected to open in the summer of 2014 in a partially finished state.
Intended to double the station’s existing passenger capacity, the project is one of the most challenging the TTC has ever undertaken due to the pressures of keeping subway service going, said TTC Project Manager Malcolm MacKay.
“It’s a technically challenging job in that we’re excavating beside an existing facility and logistically difficult because we’re trying to operate our business of moving people. Our business is not construction and we have to keep our eye on that,” said MacKay Wednesday, July 31.
The new south platform will serve the Yonge line and will be partitioned from the existing platform via a decorative 12-by-eight foot multi-paned glass wall spanning the length of the new subway platform to serve as both a public art showcase and barrier, MacKay said.
He said going with the barrier design between subway platforms rather than widening the existing structure would mean less disruption for existing train service at Union and smaller project costs.
“If we were to widen and put platforms on each side we would be giving up the existing infrastructure we have in place and doubling the excavation required for the project,” MacKay said.
He said the opening of the new platform in 2014, even in an unfinished state, will pave the way for a much-needed renovation of the existing central platform, which has not seen extensive work since Union Station opened as part of the Yonge line back in 1954.
The work is part of an extensive revitalization of Union Station, which has double the daily passenger traffic of Pearson International Airport and is used by major transportation providers such as the TTC, GO Transit and VIA Rail.
Other projects under way as part of the $700 million-plus revitalization, which is funded by all three levels of government, include a new glass roof and atrium over the GO Train shed and passenger platforms, a northwest extension of the PATH passenger walkway and a new retail concourse.
Delays have forced the scheduled date for all planned station renovations to 2016.
Metrolinx is also moving its offices to the station’s newly renovated east wing by September.
Councillor Karen Stintz, chair of the TTC, was also on hand for the media tour. She said the work taking place at Union for the platform construction was a long time coming.
“It’s definitely something we needed to do as Canada’s busiest transit hub,” Stintz said.
TTC Spokesperson Brad Ross said station closures may be required to complete the construction, but they would be coordinated with the ongoing work to replace the existing Yonge-University-Spadina subway signal network.
He said there were no plans to expedite work on the project by closing the station for an extended length of time, similar to the 12-day shutdown of Pape station scheduled for the middle of August.
Twenty million subway riders make use of the station every year according to city estimates.
The TTC recently opened for use a wider passenger concourse and is in the process of demolishing the old subway station entrance.