Crosstown tunnel boring machines pulled from the ground
Eglinton Crosstown LRT tunnels were finished in 2016 - now digging machines are surfacing.
Mar 10, 2020
Dennis and Lea – or parts of them – have seen the light of day again.
After being interned for years, deep underground Toronto, large sections of the two huge tunnel boring machines (TBM) have now finally been brought back to the surface. The pair – along with two sister digging machines that were also given nick-names – performed the majority of heavy tunnelling work along the Eglinton Crosstown light rail transit (LRT) route.
Then once their toiling was done, Dennis and Lea were left below, as work continued without their mechanical muscle.
Large sections of their machinery have now been lifted from their resting places. Rusted and worn, they’re looking a little less formidable than when the city watched as they were first lowered into the subterranean workplace with great fanfare.
The tunnelling work on the Eglinton Crosstown was completed in 2016 by all four tunnel boring machines. Two of them, Don and Humber, were dismantled and pulled out of the ground in 2017, but Dennis and Lea have been waiting quietly for four years while construction has gone on all around them.
This past weekend (March 7 and 8), one of their 10-metre high steel cutter heads – the mouthpiece that chews through the earth and stone – was removed, hoisted out by a very large crane, and then put on a truck.
This is the start of the end for the digging duo. Once both cutter heads are removed, the rest of the giant machines will be dismantled and taken out piece by piece. That’s a lot of work to do, considering these machines are 81-metres-long and weigh 511,000 kg. To help you compare, the average car weighs around 2,000 kg.
During their time under the city, these impressive machines worked non-stop 24-hours a day, tirelessly moving mountains of earth to make way for future rapid transit. Now that work is done, the Eglinton Crosstown LRT is starting to take shape and Dennis and Lea can finally leave the site knowing the tunnels they created will carry millions of people in the decades to come.
Free again, where are they headed now? To dig giant flower gardens in some retirement home for aged construction giants?
No – their pieces will end up as scrap metal.
by Scott Money Metrolinx editorial content manager