National Post: Colle presses for tidy workspace while Eglinton Crosstown Line is built
Thu Apr 17 2014
Page: A11 By: Hillar Robert
Mike Colle, MPP for Eglinton-Lawrence, said Wednesday that despite the mess workers on contract for Metrolinx have made of Eglinton Avenue West, the rewards of the Eglinton Crosstown Line will be well worth the trouble.
"Just the other day I got the Metrolinx people, we walked up and down the street and I said, 'Listen, I want good housekeeping on while you're doing construction, because a lot of the construction crews are throwing stuff out,' " he said Wednesday, at an update on progress on the light rail line. "I said, 'Listen, this is like somebody's home. Don't throw your s--out on the street.'"
As workers excavate tunnels for the new rapid transit line, scheduled to open in 2020, construction trucks and pylons obstruct the flow of traffic and parking, causing chronic concerns for drivers and business.
Mr. Colle, an avid jogger, said he notices everything on Eglinton on his runs; this is how he keeps track of what is being done, he says. "It's not just what happens when it gets finished in 2020. You gotta live through that for the next 10 years," said Mr. Colle. "I got Metrolinx, the city of Toronto, and the BIAs to work together to keep it clean while construction is going on."
A Metrolinx crew punctured a sewage line just over a month ago and accidentally filled it with cement, whichflooded basements on the stretch. Tuesday night, tunnel boring machines hit an underground wire, causing a minor power outage. A crew from Toronto Hydro was able to restore power within half an hour. (The outage caused by the tunnelling was not the major power outage that affected the city's mid and west ends.)
Commenting on the sewer line puncture, Mr. Colle said, "(Metrolinx) went in there, they've cleaned up the problem, they've got a big line pumping it out. Last night there was a power failure so the two tunnel bore machines had to stop dead and they were scrambling like crazy."
Along Eglinton, where most of the construction is currently underway, it is hard to keep residents and businesses happy. "There's no big brand names, it's all little ma and pop shops. So, we're trying to develop something that will help promote them and encourage people," said Mr. Colle.
Business owners have been refused financial compensation from Metrolinx for loss of business during the construction; Mr. Colle insists it is not personal, it is legal. "What some of [the businesses] are saying is that they want to be paid for money lost or something," said Mr. Colle. "But under, you know, the law, you can't do that."
Mr. Colle says he set up a community support centre at Eglinton and Dufferin where residents and businesses can voice their opinions and suggestions.
He said the easternmost affected BIA agreed to a deal with Metrolinx, to develop solutions that don't involvedirect payment to the businesses.
"I don't get into that but, the thing is what we said is that we're going to be committed to partnering with the organized business associations or BIAs to help get ya through this that way."
Metrolinx, a provincially owned transit company, is completing the Eglinton LRT project, at a cost of $5.3-billion. The transit line will span east to west from Kennedy Station to Mt. Dennis, a station that will connect with the Kitchener Go line to the west of Keele Street.
Workers have to extract the tunnel boring machines just west of the Allen Road and dig by hand the portions of the tunnels under the existing Spadina subway line. They then will relaunch the machines east of the Allen. Mr. Colle insisted the transit system will be worth the hiccups. The LRT project runs mostly underground as opposed to the line at St. Clair. "It's basically like a mini-subway. Or what they call in Europe a mini-metro," said Mr. Colle. "The cars will be a little more narrow and a little shorter but when you get on it'll be the same thing. The stations won't be as elaborate but they'll still be underground stations."
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