Long delayed and over budget, Union Station’s $ 824 million renovation is finally complete – .

Long delayed and over budget, Union Station’s $ 824 million renovation is finally complete – .

After more than 10 years of cost overruns and delays, the city-led Union Station revitalization is finally complete.

Mayor John Tory marked what he described as the “much anticipated” opportunity at a Tuesday morning press conference where he cut the ribbon for the reopening of Union’s Bay Concourse, the last major stage of the work.

Tory acknowledged that the decade-long renovation had been “incredibly difficult.”

“But the bottom line is this: Union Station is now ready to more fully welcome people to downtown Toronto as we reopen the city in the wake of the pandemic,” he said.

Tory said a full reopening of the station would be a boost to the city’s and Canada’s economic recovery as the COVID-19 crisis eases. Union is the country’s busiest rail hub and, before the pandemic, was used by 300,000 people every day.

“It’s a good day for Canada,” said the mayor.

The city owns Union and has taken the lead in the $ 824 million revitalization, which began in 2009. But the project was jointly funded with a contribution of $ 139.5 million from the federal government, $ 191.8 million. dollars from the province and $ 24.9 million from Via Rail. The city contributed $ 465.3 million.

Key features of the work included expanding the gross floor area of ​​the station by 14% to approximately 87,000 square meters, tripling the capacity of GO Transit’s halls, adding nearly 15,000 square meters of retail space and the creation of new connections to the PATH system.

The renovation was made more complicated by the fact that it was carried out while the station was still fully operational and by the need to preserve the heritage aspects of the 94-year-old station, which is a national historic site.

According to the city, minor updates and cosmetic work related to the revitalization will continue through the end of July.

When it started 12 years ago, the renovation was slated to be completed by 2015. But that date has been pushed back several times amid disputes with contractors and other issues, and the budget has swelled in comparison. to its initial estimate of $ 640 million. The project suffered another heavy blow with the outbreak of COVID-19, which, according to a September 2020 city report, slowed construction and delayed completion for several months.

Although the city-led renovation is complete, that does not mean that people passing through Union will not be inconvenienced by the construction in the years to come.

Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency, is undertaking major work to increase the capacity of the GO service, which includes reconfiguring station platforms, upgrading elevators and stairs, and building a new lobby at the station. the southern end of the station.

Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster said Tuesday the work is expected to take eight to ten years, which he said could be bad news for commuters tired of construction.

“I don’t want people to be alarmed that we have more work to do, but we have more work to do,” he said.

Ben Spurr is a Toronto reporter who covers transportation for The Star. Contact him by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr

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