Those who pass by Toronto’s historic Union Station will notice that a number of changes are underway as part of the Union Station Improvement Project, with walls going up and others collapsing.
“We are in the early stages of the demolition phase of the project,” said James Wattie, a Metrolinx spokesperson in an email to the Daily Commercial News. “The project team needs to complete all of this work while ensuring customer and GO operations at one of the city’s major transit hubs are least impacted. The team is also tasked with working near the existing train shed, a National Historic Site.
The goal of the project is to help prepare Union Station for the increased levels of service expected under GO’s expansion program.
The team working on the Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario project is the ONTrack Alliance team which includes Kiewit – Alberici Union General Partnership (builders); WSP Canada Inc. (designers); and Mass. Electric Construction Canada Co. (signal work).
The project uses an alliance model with the aim of quickly mitigating potential challenges.
Construction walls have been installed at the station on the east and west sides of York Crew Track, pedestrian walkways running parallel to Union Station, to ensure the safety of the public and customers.
“In May, the project team successfully relocated the power room, which powers all of Union Station without any service interruptions,” Wattie said. “Moving the engine room was necessary to clear the track so that the planned excavation in the southernmost part of the rail corridor could be completed safely.”
The existing municipal cycle shed to the south of the driveway in York East has also been bricked up and closed off to facilitate work in the South Concourse. A new temporary bicycle storage room, which is under construction further north, next to the existing York hall, is due to open later this summer.
The four southernmost tracks at Union Station have been removed and utilities relocated.
According to a Metrolinx blog, demolition of the canopy above GO platforms 24-27 is also underway and will be completed this summer. The agency needs to increase the capacity of the south platforms and will then rebuild the north platforms of the station as part of a future phase of works.
“Inside the station, crews continue to remove ceilings and relocate cables south of the VIA concourse to make way for the planned excavation in the southernmost part of the tracks near Union Station,” Wattie said.
Two cranes, which have traveled 6,500 kilometers from Germany and can lift more than 20,000 kilograms and reach up to 60 meters, will be installed at the station this summer and will be on site for the duration of the project.
Starting this fall, platforms 24 to 27 will be demolished to make way for the excavation of the new south passenger concourse which will span 325 meters from York Streets to Bay and two new wider platforms will also be installed.
“To prepare for the new South Hall, there is a lot of complex mechanical and electrical work that needs to be completed before excavation begins,” Wattie noted.
Two new sets of temporary stairs will also be constructed: one at the south end of the VIA concourse connecting the retail space below the concourse level and one at the east end of the hallway connecting the York, VIA and Bay concourses. . These will allow customers access to the rest of Union Station during construction as well as Scotiabank Arena.
Later this year, the VIA-York connection located south of the VIA Concourse connecting to 25 York Street will close and become part of the new South Concourse. The roof of the service dock connection will need to be lowered to accommodate the ceiling heights of the future south concourse above and the two new tracks that will be installed, the blog states.
Once completed, excavation work will begin for the south passenger concourse.
“Once the demolition and excavation is complete, the formwork and concreting work for the new south hall will begin in the winter of 2023,” he said. “From 2024, electrical and mechanical modernization will begin in the new south hall. This stage will include the installation of new architectural finishes. We are making good progress on the current project milestones and are working towards opening the new south hall towards the end of 2025.”
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