A Look Behind the Construction Hoarding at Union Station
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A Look Behind the Construction Hoarding at Union Station

Toronto's transit hub is under renovation. Here's a peek at what's happening with that.

If you happen to be one of the estimated 65 million passengers that make their way through Union Station each year, you’ve probably noticed that the place hasn’t been its usual self lately. That’s because a massive revitalization project has most of the station swaddled in hoarding and caution signs. The whole thing isn’t expected to be completed until 2016.

Today, for the first time since last year, members of the media were invited into the bowels of the building for a look at the project’s progress to date.

The photos above were taken, for the most part, about 15 feet below the existing lower floor of Union Station. Construction crews are digging a whole new lower floor, to accommodate a new retail concourse. The excavation extends from one end of the station to the other.

It’s a delicate operation. The building is held up by massive concrete columns, which need to be extended down to bedrock in order to accommodate the new subfloor. Even as the station is having its supports chipped away and undermined, it still needs to remain open. Workers are using temporary metal supports to keep everything stable. So far, according to Richard Coveduck, the City’s director of design and construction for the project, there have been no issues. Everything, he added, is proceeding on schedule, and the project looks as though it won’t exceed its $640 million budget.

Eventually, the new subfloor will be filled with new shops and restaurants. The revitalization will also turn a former parking area on the west side of the station into a new concourse for GO passengers, to accommodate an expected increase in commuter rail traffic. That part of the reno is expected to open for business in late 2013, or shortly after. The current GO concourse, on the east side of the station, will also be renovated and expanded.

Mayor Rob Ford, who joined the media tour along with Deputy Mayor Doug Holyday and Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong (Ward 34, Don Valley East), made some approving comments about the project. Then, along with some other dignitaries, he took a shovel and dug up a ceremonial mound of dirt.

Click through the gallery for a more detailed look at what’s happening under Union Station.

Photos by Steve Kupferman/Torontoist.