The Eglinton Crosstown West Extension (ECWE) Advance Tunnel Project in Toronto will be constructed by the West End Connectors consortium. Credit: Metrolinx.
The estimated investment in the ECWE Advance Tunnel Project is $603m. Credit: Metrolinx.
Construction of the tunnel project is scheduled to begin in the second half of 2021. Credit: Metrolinx.

The Eglinton Crosstown West Extension (ECWE) Advance Tunnel Project is the first phase of the 9.2km-long extension of the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit (future TTC Line 5) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

The westward extension of the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail Transit will expand the line from Mount Dennis to Renforth Drive. The future TTC Line 5 will be owned by the Government of Ontario’s transport agency Metrolinx and operated by the Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), the public transit agency of the city of Toronto.

Being implemented under Infrastructure Ontario’s (IO) public-private partnership (P3) model, the ECWE advance tunnel project is a part of Ontario’s major transit projects in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton region with an estimated investment of C$12bn ($9.91bn) from the federal government.

Metrolinx and IO are working together to execute the advance tunnel project, which is expected to be completed by the second quarter of 2025. Construction work is set to begin in the second half of 2021, with major tunnel boring works expected to commence in mid-2022.

ECWE project route details

The extension of the Crosstown LRT will run mostly underground, approximately 9km westward from the future Mount Dennis Station to Renforth Drive. It is expected to enable better connectivity to employment, academics, and other destinations in the Greater Toronto Area.

Following the completion of the project, new connections will be established to various transit networks in the region, including UP Express and Kitchener Line GO train services at Mount Dennis, MiWay and GO bus services through the Mississauga Transitway at Renforth Drive, and TTC bus services at transit stations in Toronto.

Metrolinx is also working with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) to explore the possibility of expanding the Crosstown line further from Renforth Drive to the Toronto Pearson International Airport.

ECWE advance tunnel project details

The advance tunnel project will involve approximately 6km of tunnelling work for the 9.2km westward extension of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

It will also include the design and construction of launch shafts, maintenance shafts and extraction shafts, tunnels, four headwalls for emergency exit buildings, and eight headwalls for future stations. Segmental precast concrete tunnel liners will also be installed as part of the project.

In addition to the tunnelling phase, the extension involves the design and construction of stations, rail, and associated systems.

Construction works

Works to prepare the site for the construction of the railway tunnel include relocation of utilities, supports for shaft and headwalls, drainage, power supply, and lighting. The proposed tunnel alignment was designed around the existing utilities, although certain utilities are also being relocated to facilitate smooth construction.

Two tunnel boring machines will be assembled at the tunnel launch site. Preparation work is ongoing at Renforth and Eglinton along with the monitoring of underground conditions prior to excavation. Approximately 88 boreholes were drilled by February 2021 for testing groundwater and understanding soil conditions.

Tunnel boring machines will commence digging the underground section between Renforth Drive and Scarlett Road. Work at the launch site will also include the construction of an access road and the deployment of two rigs to start building the launch shaft.

ECWE advance tunnel project benefits

The ECWE advance tunnel project will boost transit access for residents in the area while reducing journey times for daily commuters.

Furthermore, it will contribute to the economic and community development along the proposed transit corridor.

Other benefits will include mitigation of traffic problems, as well as reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and fuel usage.

Contractors involved

A consortium named West End Connectors was awarded a contract worth C$729.2m ($603m) by Infrastructure Ontario and Metrolinx to design, build, and finance the ECWE Advance Tunnel project in May 2021.

West End Connectors is an alliance between Aecon Infrastructure Management (40%), Dragados Canada (40%), and Ghella Canada (20%).

The project design team comprises EXP Services, TYPSA, Dr G Sauer & Partners, and Pedelta Canada.

ACS Infrastructure Canada Aecon Concessions, Ghella Investments & Partnerships, and Scotiabank Capital are financial advisors for the project.