Area transit ready to roll with new funding announcement

The decision by the Ontario government to provide funding for the construction of three new transit lines excites the chair of the Toronto Transit Commission.

On Wednesday morning premier Dalton McGuinty made good on his promise to provide public money for transit projects in the GTA, to the tune of $9 billion. The announcement guarantees that that Transit City will begin construction on schedule.

“We’re very excited,” councillor Adam Giambrone said of the $7.2-billion promised to the city. “The funds represent the largest dollar value investment (by the provincial government) in the TTC,” he said.

Some $2.6-billion will go towards the renovation of and expansion of the Scarborough RT, as well as the construction of a new LRT line in the Etobicoke-Finch West corridor.

In addition, a $2.2-billion rapid transit line will be built along Eglinton Avenue, stretching from Scarborough in the east all the way to Pearson International Airport in the west.

Funding questions continue to linger for another new line that is expected to travel east down Sheppard Avenue East, from Don Mills Station to Morningside Road.

Recently, a local business group raised concerns about having a lane dedicated only for light-rail use, fearing a loss of income for storefront businesses.

Giambrone, when asked why the province declined to provide funding for the Sheppard East line, recalled McGuinty’s words earlier in the day.

“(The premier) smiled and said, ‘there’s more to come,'” Giambrone said.

The councillor from Davenport reiterated that the line would still begin construction this year, but declined to speculate on funding past this year.

The funding announcement marks a busy week in transit developments

On March 26, the Liberal government announced $32.5-billion for new infrastructure, but didn’t disclose which projects would receive funding.

Then on March 31, Transportation Minister Jim Bradley announced the merger of regional transportation board Metrolinx and GO Transit.

It was feared by some that the removal of mayor David Miller and all elected officials from the Metrolinx board meant that that Toronto-focused projects were in jeopardy.