Crosstown LRT line can be serving east Scarborough by 2021, says Councillor Mihevc

Crosstown LRT line can be serving east Scarborough by 2021, says Councillor Mihevc :Light-rail line would be a focal point for University of Toronto Scarborough Campus expansion

The Crosstown East LRT can easily be built to the University of Toronto Scarborough by 2021, says a prominent councillor asking the city to do just that.

Through amendments approved by Toronto Council last week, Joe Mihevc directed city staff to make plans for completing, “by 2021, if at all possible,” proposed eastern and western extensions of the Eglinton Crosstown Light Rail line.

Senior staff had told a February public meeting in Scarborough an eastern Crosstown extension from Kennedy Station to UTSC would take at least eight years to build, the same as an “optimized” one-stop subway to Scarborough Town Centre.

But Mihevc, a mid-town Toronto councillor, said the east and west extensions are “very, very easy,” compared to the rest of the Crosstown, because they are at-grade.

Without the need for underground tunnelling, there’s no reason why the extensions cannot be opened along with the rest of Crosstown in 2021, he said this week.

“That would be one heck of an accomplishment for us all.”

Reports on the Crosstown East, along with several other transit projects, will be presented to Mayor John Tory’s executive committee on June 28.

Mihevc’s call for an “expedited” construction schedule for the Crosstown East and West was added at a previous committee meeting.

Scarborough residents have been told relatively little about the Crosstown East, which would travel along Eglinton Avenue to Kingston Road, and then north on Morningside Avenue and directly through the UTSC campus.

The university has centred plans for development and expansion of the campus on a light-rail line serving as focal point for a new Campus Core district.

The province did, however, shelve a previously-proposed LRT route to the campus in 2009. Campus officials, knowing most Scarborough councillors have been hostile to surface LRT routes in the past, are privately worried funding for the Crosstown East will ultimately go towards another city transit project.

Former Mayor Rob Ford, with local political support, blocked the imminent construction of the Sheppard East LRT through Scarborough in 2010.

The project, though still funded, is now described as “paused” and delayed until sometime after 2021. There’s speculation it will never be built.

Until 2013, the city also planned another LRT line to Scarborough Centre, but that project was cut in favour of the now-”optimized” subway extension.

Mihevc said he understands pessimism about the Crosstown East, but believes council has achieved a consensus on projects it wants to do.

Part of the instruction to staff council approved last week specifies developing recommendations to fit the Crosstown East into the UTSC’s secondary plan, “and identify areas in need of an Avenue Study to facilitate intensification along the proposed LRT corridor in consultation with the Toronto Transit Commission, Metrolinx and the University of Toronto.”

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