Ontario Construction News staff writer
Metrolinx says another milestone has been reached on the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension project, with the second tunnel boring machine starting the journey from Renforth Drive to Scarlett Road.
Tunnelling on the project started this past spring, with a tunnel boring machine (TBM) nicknamed Renny, starting to dig the roughly six-kilometre tunnels.
Now the launch shaft is big enough to fit two 750-tonne TBMs and can hold the volume of 11 Olympic-size swimming pools so Rexy has started working alongside Renny.
There are a few reasons why Rexy and Renny didn’t start tunnelling at the same time. One is that the space inside the launch shaft (where the digging machines are lowered in the ground) can only accommodate one TBM launch at a time. At 6.58 metres high and 131 metres long, these are huge machines. Each one is taller than a giraffe and, stood on their ends, a quarter of the height of the CN Tower.
Rexy and Renny will continue working for the next twenty months. Renny will reach the extraction shaft (the spot where the TBMs are pulled out of the ground) just west of Scarlett Road first, with Rexy following behind.
The tunnels will form a large part of the Eglinton Crosstown West Extension, which will expand the Eglinton Crosstown light rail transit (LRT) line another 9.2 kilometres west, to Renforth Drive. Plans are also being explored to extend the line even further to Pearson International Airport.
After the TBMs are pulled out of the ground near Scarlett Road, the route will transition to an elevated section, passing over the Humber River, before heading back underground just east of Jane Street, where the extension will connect to the Eglinton Crosstown LRT at Mount Dennis Station.