The Toronto Port Authority announced that the Pedestrian Tunnel Project has passed the halfway mark. The core of the pedestrian tunnel to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport is now fully excavated, with tunneling equipment having broken through to the island-side at 11:30 a.m. on Aug. 23.
Excavation of the main pedestrian tunnel began in June 2013 with the creation of two 6-ft tunnels dug by Canadian-made tunnel boring machines dubbed ‘Chip’ and ‘Dale.’ Work on the seven small crown drifts, two of which host new City of Toronto water and sewer mains, began in December 2012. The project’s next phase is the construction of the pedestrian tunnel skeleton, with completion of this element expected at the end of the year.
The Pedestrian Tunnel Project is being built through a public-private partnership model led by Forum Infrastructure Partners. An eight-part consortium is responsible for building, financing and operating the tunnel. The TPA retains ownership of the tunnel throughout the life of the P3 concession period.
When complete, the pedestrian tunnel will have four sidewalks (two north and two south) moving at 2.3 km per hour. From a bank of six elevators on the mainland side, passengers will go 100 ft down to access the tunnel and travel 800 ft underneath the Western Gap to escalators that take passengers to the airport’s check-in area. The complete journey will take less than six minutes, and will dramatically improve passenger flows while removing the risk that ferry passengers have to wait for a second crossing during peak periods given the Marilyn Bell I’s 200 passenger limit. Passengers will also notice shorter check-in and security screening lines as travelers will no longer be arriving at the airport terminal in four ferry waves per hour, as is currently the case.
Construction began on the pedestrian tunnel project in March 2012. The pedestrian tunnel will link Billy Bishop Airport to the mainland and provide enhanced service and convenient access for airport users. Project completion is expected in the second half of 2014.