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Subway plans moving along

ALL ABOARD: York Region Rapid Transit is recommending six stops be included on the Yonge St. subway extension. Metrolinx is set to release its report on GTA transit priorities Sept. 26. (Graphic by Philip Alves/Vaughan Today)

Preliminary work on the $2.1-billion Yonge St. subway extension plan is moving quickly and York Region Rapid Transit is wasting no time in jumping to the next phase.

The options have been winnowed down and a recommended project has materialized after months of ironing out technical wrinkles and public and stakeholder consultations, YRT vice-president Mary-Frances Turner told city council Monday.

The Yonge extension plan includes a bridge over the East Don River and six subway stations: at Cummer Ave., Steeles Ave., Clark Ave., Royal Orchard Blvd., Longbridge Rd. and Richmond Hill Centre, with 1,900 parking spaces at Longbridge and bus terminals at Steeles and Richmond Hill.

A York Region Rapid Transit report released in January estimated the price tag of a six-station extension at $2.1 billion.

Yet to be determined are the exact locations of the Steeles and Richmond Hill stations.

“There’s still some very important work to get done,” Turner said. “But we … sought last week at York Region Rapid Transit Committee the authority to commence the new six-month environmental assessment process, which is really a four-month process.

“It really means by the time we pull the trigger on the project, we need to know what the project is in as much definition as we can put to it.”

Metrolinx is scheduled to release its Draft Regional Transportation Plan and Investment Strategy, which will name its transit funding priorities, on Sept. 26.

With the clock ticking, York Region Rapid Transit had to move quickly, Turner said.

“Our entire strategy has been to catch the provincial budget cycle, to work with Metrolinx and the funding agencies to secure funding for the Yonge St. subway,” she said.

If the Yonge St. subway extension is named a funding priority in Metrolinx’s report, Turner said the next big step would be convincing transit planners in Toronto to get totally engaged.

“Having received all that endorsement and support, we’ll be fully into the new process and (schedule) a full public meeting formally under the environmental assessment Nov. 26,” she said.

In May, the region’s Yonge Subway Advisory Task Force was told an environmental assessment would be completed by April 2009 and, if approved, design work would begin in 2010, followed by the start of construction in 2011. The first rider would be welcomed aboard in late 2016.

Planning for the Yonge subway extension began in earnest last year after the province’s $17.5-billion Move Ontario 2020 announcement, which listed the extension as a priority.

Vaughan Today
In print: September 19, 2008, page 3
Online: September 20, 2008 [link]