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Ford, Byford clash over subway tunnel boring machines

When it comes to the future of the city’s two tunnel boring machines used for the York-Spadina subway expansion, Mayor Rob Ford and TTC CEO Andy Byford are at opposite ends of the line.

The two met behind closed doors on Wednesday to discuss what to do with the massive machines, which were purchased for $51.7 million in 2009.

Ford says he wants to keep them to use them for the Scarborough subway line while Byford wants to sell them.

Byford says the machines won’t be needed to build the Scarborough subway extension until 2018 and by that time technology would have improved so the TTC could buy newer, faster machines which would be able to build the tunnel quicker and save more money in the long run.

“The advantage of a new machine is that this is ever moving technology,” explained Byford. “The technology improves year by year.”

He added that Byford the TTC would have to pay about $3.3-million more to buy machines rather than refurbish the used ones.

However, Ford argues that the machines should be stored, refurbished and then reused. He says it’s a waste of taxpayer’s money to get rid of them and buy more expensive ones down the road.

“Why would we get rid of these boring machines when we’re going to build subways?” Ford said.

The sale of the equipment was on the agenda for the Wednesday TTC meeting but it was withdrawn after $9.2 million offer fell through.

There is currently no buyer for the equipment.

The machines cost nearly $52-million in total.