The pedestrian tunnel project to link mainland Toronto with the Billy Bishop Airport has reached its halfway point.
The Toronto Port Authority (TPA) announced the core of the pedestrian tunnel is now fully excavated as tunneling equipment recently broke through to the island side.
“The pedestrian tunnel is well on its way to being complete now that the most technically difficult element of the project is behind us,” said Mark McQueen, Toronto Port Authority board chairman.
McQueen said the tunnel will help balance passenger flow and reduce traffic congestion – two very important concerns of the growing residential community living in the Toronto waterfront neighbourhood.
Excavation of the main pedestrian tunnel began in June with two six-foot tunnels dug by boring machines. Work on the seven small crown shafts – two of which host new City of Toronto water and sewer mains – began in December 2012. First ground on the tunnel project broke in March 2012.
When complete, the pedestrian tunnel will have four sidewalks, two north and two south, moving at 2.3 kilometres per hour. Six elevators on the mainland side will take passengers down 100 ft. to access the tunnel; they will then travel 800 ft. underneath the Western Gap to escalators taking them to the airport’s check-in area.
The complete journey will take less than six minutes, according to the TPA.
In addition to dramatically improving passenger flows, the TPA said the tunnel will remove the risk of passengers waiting for a second ferry crossing during peak periods.
And with passengers no longer arriving via four ferry “waves” per hour, check-in and security screening lines should go down.
The project’s next phase is construction of the pedestrian tunnel skeleton, which is scheduled for completion by the end of this year.
The entire project is expected to wrap up in second half of 2014.