The Big Bend, a proposal to build the end of the Scarborough Subway extension a different way, appears to have bitten the dust.
Residents from Glen Andrew, south of the proposed Scarborough Town Centre station, asked TTC staff last year to study an alternative alignment they call the Big Bend, or Big Curve.
Two Scarborough Subway supporters, Glenn De Baeremaeker and Scarborough Centre MPP Brad Duguid, told Glen Andrew ratepayers in October they’d fight to get the plan fully assessed.
But the Big Bend, which would lengthen the six-kilometre tunnel by 280 metres and excavate a station beside an existing one for the Scarborough Centre Rapid Transit line, turned out to be unworkable, says De Baeremaeker, a local councillor and TTC board member.
As TTC staff prepare to present the $3.2-billion extension’s preferred alignment to the board on Jan. 18 and the city’s executive committee on Jan. 19 – along with a third-party review of costs – De Baeremaeker said staff are convinced the bend will add expense and affect more properties than the preferred plan.
Both De Baeremaeker and ratepayer representatives, however, believe they won important victories last year when the TTC was forced to rule out placing a construction staging area in the prized Frank Faubert Woodlot, and later when plans to expropriate homes or businesses south of Ellesmere Road and the mall were dropped, as a staging area was chosen on the mall property.
People in the neighbourhood are pleased, said Lorne Ross, a retired City of Scarborough planner who drew up the Big Curve and last month said he believes the TTC never fully examined the idea.
Some Scarborough residents continue to question the absence of a Lawrence Avenue station on the extension, a year after Mayor John Tory shortened the original plan from Kennedy Station to Sheppard Avenue into a one-stop “express.”
Ross said the Lawrence East station’s loss is “one of the most mysterious aspects of this entire project,” though he acknowledges placing a station near McCowan Road and Lawrence is difficult.
Tunnelling under nearby Highland Creek would leave a station 10 storeys below street level. Ross argues the subway could cross the creek on a bridge, but De Baeremaeker last week said adding the station will “be a tough fight,” with its ridership numbers too low for Toronto Council to support.
During a provincial Scarborough-Rouge River byelection, the riding’s new MPP, Raymond Cho, supported a future stage where the Scarborough subway would indeed reach Sheppard at least.
The Big Curve pointed the end of its tunnel alignment towards a future Sheppard Subway extension that would reach Scarborough Town Centre -- despite the fact plans for an Sheppard East light-rail line are still in place.
De Baeremaeker, who opposed such an extension when Rob Ford was mayor, now supports it.
“I’m a convert. I believe the Sheppard Subway should be extended to the Scarborough Civic Centre.”
After tunnelling under the Don Valley, difference in cost between light rail and a subway on Sheppard is “minuscule at best,” he said.