Toronto Transit Commission councillors approved a $137.5-million makeover of the TTC’s Union Station yesterday, including a second subway platform, expanded entry points to accommodate double the current number of passengers, and a brighter look.

Financed by Waterfront Toronto, the renovation is to begin next year, with completion expected in 2014.
At 6.9 metres wide, the Union Station platform is among the narrowest in the city’s subway system because of structural restrictions of the 1927 station.

The new platforms will be about 10 metres wide and better able to cope with the surge of riders that arrives at rush hours and before and after big events at the Air Canada Centre and Rogers Centre, said TTC chair Adam Giambrone.

The biggest challenge of the project will be keeping the station operational during construction and co-ordinating work on the platforms with other work going on at Union over the same period.

The project will have to be carefully staged, and in some cases construction will take place in small areas, according to transit officials.

The TTC project is in addition to a $640-million facelift of the main Union Station, slated for completion in 2015, and an expanded streetcar loop, the total cost of which still isn’t known.

Currently, riders boarding the Yonge and Spadina subway lines at Union do so from a single central platform. A second platform will be built to the south, with a direct connection to the underground streetcar station that will accommodate LRT passengers heading to new development along the waterfront.

Transit commissioners approved $11 million in initial expenses for design and engineering of the streetcar loop that enters Union Station underground from the waterfront line on Queen’s Quay.

The plan would expand the streetcar platforms so two, or conceivably three, vehicles can be boarding passengers at one time, said Giambrone.

The project will probably begin next year, and “it’s going to be designed so it can be expanded,” he said.

When the waterfront is fully refurbished, five per cent of the TTC’s ridership will ride those lakeshore routes — more than the Spadina streetcar currently carries, Giambrone said.

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