The Toronto Port Authority is moving ahead with plans to build a pedestrian tunnel under the lake to the island airport.

Hoping to tap into government stimulus cash it has requested for the $38-million project, the Port Authority is issuing a formal request for proposals today to conduct an environmental assessment, the first step to any major construction project.

Ottawa has not indicated whether it would approve the request, but it does meet the rules for federal infrastructure funding, said Port Authority chair Mark McQueen.

“We do not have a formal approval, but you certainly have to have your ducks lined up, given the times of March 2011 (for completion),” he said, referring to the date by which projects funded by the federal infrastructure plan must be finished.

But any plan to build an underground passageway is sure to draw the ire of Mayor David Miller, who campaigned in 2003 to kill a proposed bridge, arguing the facility should be kept as a sleepy commuter airport.

Miller is on vacation, but earlier this month he credited former mayor and alderman Sam McBride for helping to kill such a tunnel in the 1930s.

Responses by potential contractors are due within three weeks, and the environmental assessment could take about four months. Engineers estimate a tunnel could be built in a year.

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