The thousands of commuters who pass through Union Station every day may not even realize the scope of the construction project that is going on right under their feet.
It’s called the “Dig Down,” part of the $640-million project to expand Union Station and create a new GO Transit concourse and expanded retail space.
There are open pits under the building and rail yards where crews operating front-end loaders and dump trucks are digging away four metres of dirt to accomodate the expansion.
All the while, Union Station remains in full operation for GO Transit, Via Rail and TTC customers above.
“It would be easier if we didn’t have to worry about the commuters and the trains, but we have to work around the existing people and that’s what we plan to do,” Rick Tolkunow of the City Of Toronto told 680News during a media tour.
Forty-five truck loads of dirt are being hauled out every day as part of the excavation.
“It’s very similar to a mining operation here, we’re obviously restricted on a number of sides in terms of where we can get material in and out of the site,” Tolkunow said.
The existing support columns holding up the building and rail yard above are being reinforced with structural steel before being lengthened as the foundation is deepened.
“In total we have a little over 400 columns that we’re modifying in some form,” said Project Director Paul Noskiewicz of NORR Ltd.
The two new GO concourses, one at York Street, the other at Bay Street, will open in 2013 and 2014 respectively.
Part of the train shed roof over the rail yard will be replaced with a glass atrium to offer a cleaner and brighter waiting area at track level.
A total of 160,000 square feet of new retail space is also being added.
The entire project should be complete by 2016.