Ontario has officially broken ground for the Ontario Line subway system.
Premier Doug Ford, along with Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney, federal Transportation Minister Omar Alghabra and Toronto Mayor John Tory, announced the start of construction at Exhibition Place on Sunday.
“Today, we’re delivering on our promise and getting shovels in the ground to begin construction on the new Ontario Line,” Ford said at the construction site, which will one day be the subway line’s first stop.
“For decades, governments of every stripe have been talking about the need for new subways in the GTA. They’ve been studying it forever. There’s been endless reports, endless committees but, finally, we’re the government that got it done.”
The 14-stop, 15-kilometre Ontario Line will begin near Ontario Place in southwest Toronto, travel through the downtown core and north to end at the Ontario Science Centre.
The line will connect with 40 other transit routes, including GO train lines, TTC subway and streetcar stops, and a new east-west light rail line that is currently being built.
The government has said the new line will be in operation by 2030, but Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster, who was at the news conference, couldn’t confirm whether it’s still on track for that date.
He said Metrolinx, which is in charge of transit construction in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton area, will have a better sense of the timeline by the end of April.
“We have a practice whereby we have to go through the market, and the market would bid us on times and schedules and prices,” he said. “In the world we’re in, post-COVID, we’re seeing huge variations in terms of what gets bid.
“Once we see those (commercial bids), we’ll be able to judge when the completion date will be.”
The province says the Ontario Line will reduce crowding on existing transit routes and at some of Toronto’s busiest stations.
The federal government and the City of Toronto are also part of the project.
“This is an important milestone in the work all of our governments are doing together to get much-needed transit built,” Tory said at the news conference.
Ford announced the Ontario Line in April 2019 as the centrepiece of his $28.5-billion GTA transit expansion plan. While initially projected to be done in 2027, the provincial government pushed the deadline back by three years in 2020.
The province is contracting work on the Ontario Line to the private sector through a public-private partnership model.
Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario have broken up procurement of the project into three smaller contracts. Two of the three bids will be in by the end of April, Verster said.
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