TORONTO, March 9, 2012 /CNW/ - Joined by the Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada, the Hon. James Flaherty, Minister of Finance and Minister Responsible for the GTA, and M.P. for Whitby-Oshawa and His Worship Toronto Mayor, Rob Ford, Toronto Port Authority (TPA) Chairman Mark McQueen today announced the start of construction of the Port Authority's pedestrian tunnel to Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (BBTCA).
The innovative project under the Western Gap of Toronto Harbour will link the popular airport to the mainland at the foot of Bathurst Street, via an underground pedestrian tunnel. The project will provide a predictable, efficient and convenient access route for the airport's million-plus passengers to Toronto's downtown airport. Tunnel construction will take 25 months to complete.
McQueen noted that the privately-financed project will improve reliability of access and maintain a high standard of customer service for the passengers who travel through Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport. In 2011, 1.55 million passengers used the airport, a 50-fold increase over 2006. The tunnel will also give passengers better access to the airport and will help reduce traffic congestion at the foot of Bathurst. "The tunnel project is our response to the continued success of the airport, and we are excited about what this privately-funded infrastructure project will mean for passengers traveling to and from downtown Toronto," he said.
Minister Flaherty noted that the project is expected to have huge and positive impacts for people traveling to and from Toronto. "This project will allow passengers traveling through the Billy Bishop Airport get to their end destination sooner. Less time spent in an airport or waiting for a ferry means more time creating jobs and economic growth for business travelers, and more time with friends and family for those traveling for personal reasons."
The construction of this tunnel will create jobs, and benefit long-term economic growth," said the Hon. Denis Lebel, Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities. "This project is an example of valuable infrastructure being built by the private sector, at no cost to taxpayers, and provides a model for other projects across the country."
The tunnel, which will cost $82.5 million to build, is being financed by the private sector and paid for by airport users via the existing BBTCA Airport Improvement Fee, not the taxpayer. The agreement between the TPA and Forum Infrastructure Partners includes contractual terms to ensure it comes in on-time and on-budget.
"This project will be a new and amazing gateway to the city and it will add to the vitality of Toronto's waterfront" Mayor Ford said. The Mayor also noted that the City will save more than $10 million on its own island watermain and sewage project, while avoiding duplication of costly and disruptive construction work, thanks to an agreement reached last year with the Port Authority. Under the agreement, the Port Authority designed the tunnel to suit the City's needed water and sewage mains.
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