Province to convene expert panel to consider changes to two subway extensions
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Tuesday, August 13, 2019 3:29PM EDT
Mayor John Tory says that he is concerned about potential delays to the Scarborough subway extension amid reports that the province will convene an expert panel to consider changes to the project, including the possibility of building a portion of it above ground.
The Toronto Star is reporting that Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario have assembled a 13-member panel to “perform an independent review of the TTC’s plans” for both the Scarborough and Yonge north subway extensions.
According to a confidential memo obtained by the newspaper, the panel may “consider and evaluate potential alternatives” to the plans for the projects to determine whether they could be delivered “in a faster time frame, at less cost.” Some of the options that the panel will consider include “adding or removing stations” and alternating “horizontal and vertical alignments,” according to the memo.
Speaking with reporters at an unrelated news conference alongside Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Tuesday, Tory said that he will be “quite happy” to see the review undertaken if it can be completed quickly but will become concerned should any recommendations made by the panel “delay the projects further.”
The 6.2 km extension of Line 2 from Kennedy Station to Scarborough Town Centre was first approved by city council in 2013, replacing a previously approved light rail line for the area that was opposed by then Mayor Rob Ford and then councillor Doug Ford.
“If this can be done quickly and they can have these experts look at this and find a way to do it less expensively or quicker I am all ears. But it has to be done quickly because we have to get on with building transit,” Tory said. “We have the partnership in place to do it and I just want to get on with it because the city needs it.”
In a statement provided to CP24 on Tuesday, Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster described the panel’s review as a “a crucial health check on the projects.”
He said that such a review is especially important given ongoing discussions that would see Metrolinx assume responsibility for the delivery of the projects.
“This review panel is exactly the right thing to do for the project. When you take over two projects as important and complicated as the Yonge Subway Extension and the Scarborough subway, it’s critical you do your due diligence to see what has been done so far,” he said. “Doing the review now, in the planning stage, is vital, as better decisions at the start of the project can save you billions of dollars by the end of the project.”
No timeline has been provided for the completion of the review.