Union Station Revitalization
June 13, 2011
Media tour the 'dig down'
The City of Toronto recently hosted a media tour of Union Station giving journalists an opportunity to see the “dig down,” one of the initial and most significant stages of the revitalization. The purpose is to create space for two new GO concourses and a new, lower-level pedestrian retail concourse.
Spanning east to west from Bay Street to York Street and north to south from Front Street to the Air Canada Centre, the dig down covers an area the size of two-and-a-half football fields. This stage of construction involves excavating several metres underground and removing up to 900 tonnes of earth and materials from the site daily. The excavators and support equipment being used are the same kind as those used in underground mining operations.
Another aspect of the dig down is the replacing or reinforcing of hundreds of concrete columns, many of which directly support the train tracks. According to the project's architects and engineers, column replacement on this scale is an engineering feat and a first in Toronto. This complex procedure has only been employed in special cases throughout the world and seldom on structures this large that remain fully functional throughout construction.
Excavation will be followed by further construction on the York concourse, which is scheduled to open in 2013. At that point, GO Transit and all its passengers will relocate to the new concourse so that construction can continue on the Bay Street side.
The revitalization is a $640-million City initiative supported by investments of $164 million from the Government of Canada and $172 million from the Government of Ontario.
Key aspects of the revitalization
- Restoration and preservation of many of Union Station’s heritage elements.
- Creation of a new pedestrian retail concourse below the station.
- Expansion of the GO concourses by threefold to accommodate the expected doubling of passengers at Union Station by 2030.
- Restoration of the VIA Rail concourse.
- Creation of a new PATH system connecting the northwest corner of Union Station to Wellington Street.
- Expansion and increase in the number of station entrances, including the addition of a new PATH connection and tunnel to Union Plaza, Air Canada Centre and Maple Leaf Square.
- Renovation of space in the west wing for Metrolinx's head office.
- Incorporation of advanced environmental designs, such as deep-lake water cooling, district heating and energy-efficient technology.