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Drivers warned to prepare for LRT construction woes

Southbound traffic on Allen Road waits to exit to Eglinton Avenue.

Dave Chan for The Globe and Mail./dave chan The Globe and Mail.

Toronto's most notoriously occluded intersection could soon be facing a full blockage.

City officials may close some or all of the south end of the Allen Expressway during portions of the construction of an Eglinton Crosstown LRT station, located beneath the Eglinton West subway, with traffic diverted to Lawrence Avenue.

"The community has to be prepared," warned local councillor Joe Mihevc (St. Paul's). "We have to be clear and honest with folks that the construction period is going to be tough."

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Because of the sheer complexity of the project, construction is expected to take five years – from 2013 to 2018. Eglinton will also be reduced to one lane in either direction from Marlee Avenue to Glen Cedar Road, in the Upper Village shopping area.

Martin Maguire, a transportation services official, confirmed that various approached to closing the Allen were being reviewed, noting that the staff recommendation will go to committee and council in the first quarter of next year.

Mr. Maguire explained that the contractors require space to store building materials and equipment, while thousands of truckloads of excavated soil must be hauled away from the site, likely by way of the Allen. The north side of Eglinton is a city park and not suitable as a staging area.

The Crosstown was initially designed to run in an 11-kilometre tunnel between Keele Street and Brentcliffe Road because Eglinton Avenue through the city core isn't wide enough for a dedicated right-of-way for LRT vehicles; the balance of the route, mainly through Scarborough, would have been on the surface. But Mayor Rob Ford last winter requested that the province bury the entire 19-kilometre line as part of his election pledge to end the so-called "war on the car."

Preliminary schematics of the location and layout of the Eglinton West LRT station are included in a request for proposals for environmental assessment consulting services, issued earlier this month by the Toronto Transit Commission and Metrolinx, which is funding the $8.2-billion Eglinton-Scarborough Crosstown.

The 271-page document, obtained by The Globe and Mail, reveals that TTC officials have begun to hone the station designs west of Avenue Road.

The entrance to the Keele Station, as well as a new bus circle, will be located on the current location of a car wash just north of Eglinton Avenue on Trethewey Drive.

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The Caledonia station, meanwhile, will be connected to the platforms of a proposed GO train station on the CN rail corridor that cuts through the west end. The Bathurst station design, meanwhile, will be available for public consultation at an open house later this month, said Mr. Mihevc.

The document also includes a map of the Crosstown line indicating that Metrolinx is planning 20 stations along Eglinton, a possible extension to Jane Street and four on the Scarborough RT corridor, which will be converted to accommodate LRT vehicles.

While the map has appeared in Metrolinx board documents, the Crosstown website does not include a list of stations. The route map "is still subject to review so anything might happen," said veteran transit activist Steve Munro.

Special to The Globe and Mail

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