On-Site Magazine

LRT tunnel boring machines extracted after four years interned beneath busy Toronto intersection

April 21, 2020   By On-Site Staff

After spending nearly four years stranded under one of Toronto’s busiest intersections, a pair of tunnel boring machines used to dig part of the new Eglinton Crosstown light rail project have dismantled and pulled to the surface.

Construction crews disassembled the 400-tonne TBMs, nicknamed Dennis and Lea, and hoisted their components from the ground just west of Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue last month.

The 10-metre-long machines were dropped beneath Eglinton about six kilometres to the west at Black Creek Drive in June 2013. They spent three years heading east, boring twin tunnels that will form the western segment of the underground section of the Crosstown.

After arriving at their midtown termination point, however, the TBMs were forced to wait 20 metres below the surface for the rest of the infrastructure project to catch up.

With excavation at Eglinton Station having descended to tunnel level, crews with Crosslinx Transit Solutions — the consortium responsible for the LRT project — set to work extracting the battered borers.

Though allowed to glimpse the light of day again, the TBMs have reached end-of-life. Metrolinx said last month it planned to sell the components for scrap.

Meanwhile, construction continues on the Crosstown project, with work progressing on the two dozen stations along the 19-kilometre route — 10 kilometres of which is underground. Initially scheduled to open next fall, the new light rail system has been delayed until well into 2022.

Watch the intricate dismantling and extraction process:


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