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The TTC unveils new subway cars at Downsview station in Toronto on Oct. 14, 2010. (Peter Power/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)
The TTC unveils new subway cars at Downsview station in Toronto on Oct. 14, 2010. (Peter Power/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail)

Transit

Boring project excites Rob Ford Add to ...

With the flip of a massive electrical switch, dignitaries from throughout the Greater Toronto Area launched a $2.6-billion subway boring project - but not without a few puns first.

"I'm delighted today to acknowledge, for the first time in my career life, I'm about to deliver boring remarks, which are in fact very exciting," cracked Peter Kent, federal minister of environment.

It was the first of many groan-worthy one-liners to mark the start of construction on the Toronto-York Spandina Subway extension, which will extend Toronto's subway system 8.6-kilometres north to the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre.

Mr. Kent joined Mayor Rob Ford, provincial transportation minister Kathleen Wynne, York Region Chairman Bill Fisch and TTC Chair Karen Stintz in christening four new tunnel-boring machines - named Yorkie, Torkie, Holey and Moley - that will burrow twin tunnels northwest to York University and then north to York Region. The line will connect six stations.

It will be the first TTC rapid-transit line to extend beyond the City of Toronto's borders.

"The start of the tunnel boring for this subway project is an important step in building a transportation city," Mr. Ford said. "It will be a major, major transportation hub connecting the TTC, York Region Transit, Viva and GO."

The project gained approval during the last term of council, but it meshes with Mr. Ford's preference of subways over the light rail lines that were proposed under former mayor David Miller's now-defunct Transit City plan.

The federal and provincial governments are kicking in about $1.6-billion, with the City of Toronto and York Region making up the remainder.

The boring machines were built by Lovat, a 380-employee Toronto company purchased by Caterpillar in 2008.

Several politicians were hopeful the borers could start working on extending the Yonge subway to Richmond Hill as soon as they complete work on the Spadina line, scheduled for late 2015.

The City is still in the planning stages for the Yonge extension.

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