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Brampton City Council unanimously supports tunnel option for LRT extension

Angela Gismondi
Brampton City Council unanimously supports tunnel option for LRT extension

City of Brampton Council has unanimously supported the tunnel alignment for the Light Rail Transit extension along Main Street in the city’s downtown.

“We took a report on May 10 to council that basically recommended that we take six months to have some further dialogue with Metrolinx and provincial officials basically to help inform how we move forward with this,” said Doug Rieger, director of transit development with Brampton Transit.

At the meeting, council approved: “That staff be directed to have further dialogue with Metrolinx and provincial officials to help inform the tunnel option, which is the alignment unanimously supported by Brampton City Council to advance funding advocacy, which could then be taken through the Transit Project Assessment Process (TPAP), and report back in approximately six months on the outcome of these discussions.”

The Light Rail Transit Extension Study examines the extension of the Hazel McCallion LRT, that is currently being built in Brampton and Mississauga. The extension route would go into downtown Brampton.

“We took two preferred options through the 30 per cent design stage and that’s where we’re at now and we prepared a draft environmental report,” said Compton Bobb, senior project engineer. “To be at the stage where we can choose an option, council has given us six months to make those connections with the higher orders of government to see where the funding could come from…that would inform which option we choose.”

The two options are viable and could be taken through the TPAP phase, Rieger said.

“There are a number of projects that can influence each other in downtown Brampton,” he explained, adding in addition to the LRT extension study the city is also doing a transit hub study. “We have an existing terminal in downtown Brampton….We’ve outgrown that terminal and we need to look at expanding that terminal, so we’ve started that process.”

In addition, Metrolinx is leading the Queen Street/Highway 7 BRT project.

“Queen Street runs east/west, Main Street is north/south and they connect in the downtown. We want to have a strong connection with that Bus Rapid Transit piece, and the LRT, and the downtown Brampton GO station, and the bus terminal,” Rieger said. “Also, Metrolinx is doing their track expansion work through Brampton because they need to increase the capacity of the Kitchener Line.”

The other piece is Metrolinx goes through an annual assessment of their projects in their frequent rapid transit network.

“They look at various inputs and then just basically go through a reranking and it helps them to prioritize resources in order to advance those various projects,” Rieger noted.

“For the first time the LRT extension piece, from Steeles into downtown Brampton, bumped up into their top priority, so we want some more discussions with them. At the end of the day, once we complete this study, we’re going to hand this over to Metrolinx because they are the ones that are building the Hazel McCallion LRT.”

Both options are feasible and have pros and cons, said Bobb. With the surface option the corridor is tight.

“We can’t accommodate some of the infrastructure we would like to normally incorporate in the corridor,” he said. “In mixed traffic, it slows the travel time.”

“With the tunnel option we are free, there are no interferences,” he added. “The downside for the tunnel option is it costs more.”

The estimate for the tunnel option is $2.8 billion.

The tunnel construction would be typical and would require some boring operations.

“You’re going to start doing some serious construction work to get it underground and the hope is not to disturb the surface at the same time,” said Bobb.

The southerly segment of the extension piece would be on the surface.

“It would have the same look and feel for what is currently being designed and built on the southern portion of the Hazel McCallion LRT,” said Rieger. “Then it would transition into the tunnel. That first part would be cut and cover and then…it would be sequential excavation mining north of Nanwood Station into the Brampton GO. We would look at opportunities for a potential second mining operation at the Brampton GO if we want to fast track some of that work.”

Follow the author on Twitter @DCN_Angela.

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