The Toronto Star reports that Queen’s Park is contemplating an alternative route to Toronto’s proposed Scarborough subway extension via Eglinton and McCowan to Sheppard East.
The key paragraphs in the article are:
“In the next couple of weeks we should have an announcement on what the routing will be, what the design will be and what the cost will be,” he told reporters on the way into a cabinet meeting Wednesday.
Queen’s Park wants to have the subway run on a similar route to the light rail transit plan to “maximize the impact of this line and get it connected to as many people (as possible),” said [Transportation Minister] Murray.
Murray seeks to find out how much could be built with the $1.4b already committed to a subway project. Using an existing corridor could reduce the cost compared to the McCowan alignment.
This raises questions debated in other threads here of how the subway would be extended via the existing SRT alignment including the configuration of Kennedy Station and whether a route from Ellesmere Station eastward would be elevated or underground.
Recycling some or all of the existing corridor will require a period of shutdown for the RT with parallel bus service, an issue that weighed heavily against the LRT scheme in recent debates. Will the promise of a subway quell objections to this shutdown?
Murray will meet with Lisa Raitt, the federal Minister of Transport, to discuss funding, but he is already throwing cold water on hopes for assistance from Ottawa for a “416” project. Even if the feds bring money to the table, the next questions will be whether the original McCowan scheme or an SRT alignment for the subway are the best use of available cash, and how either subway would fit into a larger network.
The debate comes back to Toronto Council in October preceded by Murray’s announcement likely in mid-September. Backers of the subway like TTC Chair Karen Stintz and recently-elected MPP “Subway Champion” Mitzie Hunter have stressed that their support for a Sheppard LRT was for a different line in different circumstances. A Scarborough subway, wherever it goes, will leave large parts of eastern Toronto far from rapid transit.
The LRT debate is not over. Will Stintz and Hunter become “LRT champions” for other parts of the network?