Updated June 17, 2013 at 6:15 pm:
In the comment thread for this article, there has been substantial discussion about a “south side option” for the Eglinton LRT between the portal at Brentcliffe and Don Mills Road. I have after several requests obtained an answer from Metrolinx about whether this had ever been considered. Here is their reply sent by Jamie Robinson today.
Placing the LRT on the south side of Eglinton Avenue East in the vicinity of the West Don River/Leslie Street was included in three of five options compared to the at-that-time base case (which was underground throughout the corridor) in the Don Mills River Crossing Study prepared in February 2012 by HMM. However, the LRT would have been in a completely separate right-of-way on a new bridge across the West Don River in order to maintain current vehicle capacity of Eglinton Avenue East (i.e., no conversion of travel lanes to LRT tracks).
That report recommended one of the options that included a continuation of the bored tunnel from the west to pass under the West Don River and portal east of the Don Valley Parkway. That option was selected because the cost differential with the at-grade options was minimal, provided that a station at Leslie Street was not required. If a Leslie Station would be required, then one of the at-grade south side options was the preferred option. MX decided to proceed with the first option, and further refined that option with a launch at Don Mills Road and continuing eastward with the EA alignment, which led to the preparation of the Eastern EPR Addendum.
The at-grade south side option was not compared to the EA Option.
Generally, however, It is very difficult (if not impossible) to relocate the portal from the centre of Eglinton (as proposed in the current design) and shift it to the south side of the right-of-way and continue to use the existing bridge. The “viaduct” option that HMM reviewed, was suggested by the public and was presented during the recent consultations for the changes in the East, was more expensive and required an EA amendment. Due to project implementation timelines the project is proceeding with the EA option.
In brief, yes they looked at it, although not in the context of the original EA. Shifting to the south presents problems for the river crossing and the tunnel launch shaft, but might have survived as an option if Metrolinx had not decided to go all-underground to Don Mills. Now that they’re back on the surface, they are sticking with the original plan.