Eglinton LRT Rob Ford

Stintz backs surface LRT for portions of Eglinton line

The chorus of voices that support the construction of surface LRT along less dense sections of Eglinton Avenue has just gained a rather important member, that of TTC Chair Karen Stintz. In a move that will surely put her in Mayor Rob Ford's bad books, she told the Globe and Mail that "if the decision is to go with an LRT, it should be at-grade. If there's a decision to put it underground, it should be a subway."

Given that the latter option isn't in the cards — and hasn't been since Bob Rae tweaked the original Network 2011 plans back in the early 1990s — one could distill the TTC Chair's comments to the more straightforward statement that "it should be at grade." To be clear, Stintz isn't referring to the whole line, but like most other people who've applied common sense to their evaluation of the Eglinton Crosstown route, just those stretches in the east and west that pass through less dense areas where traffic and roads can more easily accomodate above ground LRT.

Along with financial considerations, there are a host of reasons to run the Crosstown at grade, not the least of which is the Don Valley, which would be a significant engineering challenge to tunnel beneath.

Stintz's declaration comes at a time when a movement to challenge Ford's transportation plans is starting to gain steam. Along with the press that #CodeRedTO has received of late, Councillor John Parker has been vocal in his criticism of current strategy for the Eglinton Crosstown. Will other councillors follow now that Stintz has stuck her neck out?

How Ford manages this situation will also be intriguing to monitor. Will Ford lead a backroom movement to have the Commission vote her out as chair? It's certainly possible. Despite the fact that such a move might galvanize those who oppose burying the entire Eglinton Crosstown, a rift of this nature between the mayor and the TTC Chair isn't exactly tenable either.

Stay tuned. This chapter has just begun.


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