The new C$82.5m (US$63m) pedestrian tunnel, linking Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport in Canada with the Toronto mainland, was officially opened yesterday (July 30) after more than three years of construction.
Since it first opened in 1939, Billy Bishop airport has only been accessible by ferry. The new 853ft tunnel will now provide travelers with a fast and convenient way to access the airport.
The tunnel runs below Lake Ontario and has been built within the bedrock 100ft below the surface of the lake. Passengers access the tunnel on the mainland via a new one-story pavilion containing six elevators that descend 100ft to the tunnel entrance. They then walk along four automated sidewalks moving at a speed of 1.4mph, with the total journey taking less than six minutes.
Mark McQueen, chairman of PortsToronto, the airport operator, said, “After years of planning and three years of construction by PCL Construction, the PortsToronto team is thrilled to announce that the new Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport pedestrian tunnel is now open.
“The tunnel will improve the already swift travel experience for the two million local passengers who pass through our airport each year en route to destinations around the world. Although it took 80 years to come to fruition, I am proud that it will serve the City of Toronto for the next 80 years, at least.
“That PortsToronto was able to deliver this unique piece of infrastructure without a penny of taxpayer money is just the icing on the cake. Our passengers will love the convenient access to an airport that connects Toronto to the world.”
To further improve convenience, the tunnel has 42 large digital screens installed throughout the pavilion, atrium and tunnel that will provide passengers with various travel information. The displays will also work in conjunction with the Billy app which offers concierge-type services and curated content to assist with travel. All areas of the tunnel are also equipped with free wi-fi.
Geoffrey Wilson, CEO, PortsToronto, said, “The design of the tunnel marks
the first time in Canada that a drift system was used to construct the arched crown design of the main tunnel. This innovative design allowed for the incorporation of three water and sewer mains to service Toronto Island and, in so doing, saved Toronto taxpayers more than C$10m (US$7.7m) in duplicate construction costs.
“We are immensely proud of the collaboration that was involved in building this tunnel be it with the city, our construction partners or stakeholders, and of our efforts to complete the project with as little disruption as possible to the surrounding community. We are looking forward to realizing the benefits that this tunnel will have on our travelers, our operations and Toronto overall.”