eglinton crosstown lrt

This new Crosstown LRT station in Toronto is a half-kilometre long

As the last track comes together and shiny trains ply Toronto streets for testing, the Eglinton Crosstown LRT is looking a bit closer to its 2022 opening every day. The line will run 19 kilometres with 25 stops and stations, including a few that stand out from the pack.

One of these is the enormous underground station being built deep below the Laird Drive and Eglinton Avenue East intersection.

Commuters descending into Laird Station from either of its two surface entrances may not notice anything out of the ordinary at first glance, but on closer inspection, they'll find that the station is surprisingly long.

Like, really, really, long.

At approximately 500 metres, or half a kilometre, Laird is among the longest stations on the Crosstown. That's just 53 metres short of the CN Tower's height, or roughly ten times as long as Niagara Falls is high.

But why do Metrolinx and the TTC need such an expansive station here?

Sure, there will be on-street connections to surface bus routes, but this is not an interchange or even a super-high-volume station compared to others.

It's not a nuclear fallout bunker or a Rob Ford-era modification to store the stopped gravy train, but this cavernous tunnel extending from the platform serves an essential purpose.

Home to a turnback station with special maneuvering tracks that allow light rail vehicles, or LRVs, to switch directions, the colossal tunnel offers space for the temporary storage of disabled LRVs to avoid service disruptions.

And for such a lengthy station, Laird could have been a whole lot more disruptive to traffic had it been constructed like others on the line.

The station started construction in 2016, one of three Crosstown stations that were mined rather than typical excavation methods, dug laterally rather than vertically so as not to disrupt traffic above.

While it looks like the massive void has been carved using a tunnel boring machine, the rounded ceiling was a key design feature, its robust arch shape having kept the tunnel stable during excavation.

Pictured above, a similar extra-long tunnel for train storage and switching is being constructed a few kilometres to the west at Avenue Road.

Lead photo by

Metrolinx


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