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The Globe and Mail

Union Station renovation hits halfway mark, on time and on budget: TTC

TTC Project Manager Malcom MackKay stands in the construction area of the new 2nd platform at Union Station during a tour on July 31, 2013.

Moe Doiron/The Globe and Mail

The Toronto Transit Commission revealed the progress on their lengthy renovations at Union Station Wednesday, which include the building of a new subway platform aimed to double the station's capacity.

The $161.5-million project, which broke ground in May 2011 and is scheduled to be completed by 2015 for the Pan American Games, is on time and on budget, officials say.

"We have twice as many people as Pearson International [airport] in any given day coming through here," explained project manager Malcolm Mackay, who led media on a tour of the construction. Up to 200,000 people travel through the station each day, he said.

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Along with the new platform, the project includes a custom-designed glass atrium, a new concourse with additional exits and space and a seamless, stair-free transition between the TTC station and the rail concourse.

TTC Chair Karen Stintz was also along for the tour, getting what she said was her first on-site glimpse of the progress. Ms. Stintz was excited to see the halfway mark.

"Up until now I've been irritated by all the congestion on Front Street, but now I understand why it is what it is," she said. "It's good to see the progress that's being made."

The ongoing construction has hindered commuters both at street-level and underground. The entire station has been shut down on a handful of weekends to allow for the construction as well as signal light upgrades. The section of Front Street in front of the station has been closed to traffic for months, causing gridlock to ripple outwards to the surrounding streets.

"It's one of those short-term pains for long-term gains. What we're building now is building for the future," she said.

Bob and Debbie Drew are tourists who were visiting Toronto Wednesday. They had been to the city before but after they noticed the construction, they took time out of their vacation to scout out Union Station to see whether it would affect their train trip to Montreal next week.

"It is a shame. It's such a lovely building and we can't see any of it," Ms. Drew said. "But these things need to be done."

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