The Ontario government is preparing to initiate the procurement process for the $1.2 billion Finch West Light Rail Transit (LRT) project in Toronto, which will replace bus services along the Finch Avenue West corridor with electric-powered vehicles.
"Preliminary design and engineering work on the project is ongoing and work is underway to ready the project for procurement," said Bob Nichols, Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO), senior media liaison officer, in an email.
"Decisions have not yet been made regarding project delivery. In accordance with provincial policy outlined in the province’s long-term infrastructure plan, Building Together, Metrolinx will work with Infrastructure Ontario to assess the feasibility of using Alternative Financing and Procurement (AFP) to implement the project."
The proposed LRT will provide 11 new kilometres of rapid transit along Finch Avenue West between the new Finch West subway station on the Toronto-York Spadina subway extension at Keele Street and Humber College in Toronto’s northwest corner. Construction is scheduled to start in 2016 and be done by 2021.
An Environmental Assessment (EA) produced by the TTC and the City of Toronto in March 2010, said the project will be built in the centre of the roadway on a raised median to separate the LRT from vehicular traffic.
"The LRT line is proposed to have 18 surface stops along Finch Avenue and a below-grade interchange station at the new Finch West Subway Station — connecting people to key destinations along Finch Avenue, providing crucial connections to GO Transit bus services, Mississauga and Brampton local bus services at Humber College, and the TTC’s new Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension," said Nichols.
The project involves the construction of three-metre wide far-side platforms at most stops, or a four-metre wide centre platform at selected stops, with a typical spacing of about 400 to 600 metres. It also includes the construction of an integrated underground connection to TTC subway stations at the Finch West Station.
The transit corridor will provide two general traffic lanes in each direction, with the exception of areas where the existing three lanes in each direction will be preserved.
Using a traditional method, the first step of surface construction is the relocation of utilities. LRT construction will then occur on one side of Finch Avenue, while the other side remains open to traffic.
Once construction has finished, the work will switch to the other side of the street, and traffic will flow on the reconstructed side. When both sides have been completed, finishes will be applied to the shelters on the platforms at the stops, and lighting would be installed.
However, the TTC will consider the use of alternate methods that may speed up construction and mitigate impacts on the surrounding neighbourhood.
"The Finch West LRT will bring rapid transit to communities that need it the most, and evolve the transit landscape in Toronto," said Bruce McCuaig, president and CEO, Metrolinx, in a statement. "Commitment to this project, as well as other LRT projects like the Eglinton Crosstown, reflect the important investments being made to create a truly integrated and sustainability transit system for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area."
The projected ridership of the Finch West LRT corridor is expected to be 2,800 passengers per hour in the peak direction by 2031.
"The project will also include construction of a Maintenance and Storage Facility for the light rail vehicles, to be located along Finch Avenue West between Norfinch Drive and York Gate Boulevard," said Nichols.
"A separate EA will begin soon for the Maintenance and Storage Facility."
The EA will follow the Ontario Transit Project Assessment Process with the Statement of Completion estimated by winter 2015.