By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
The news surrounding the Lakeshore East GO line extension has been quiet since the word dropped that the project would finally be getting the influx of funding to make it a reality. Now, it appears things may be taking a small step forward as consultants have been retained to review the 2011 station design concepts for the Oshawa to Bowmanville extension.
Originally, the station design concepts were created as part of the 2011 Environmental Assessment for the project. Now, according to city officials, consultants will be refining those designs while also studying the impact of the Metrolinx plan for Regional Express Rail (RER), which will electrify the Lakeshore East corridor and boost service levels. Those plans are expected to be in place by 2025.
Currently, the RER project is in the assessment phase with recent public consultations across the GTA, including one in Ajax.
“Metrolinx completes a comprehensive environmental assessment when it expands transit infrastructure,” says Vanessa Barrasa, a spokesperson for Metrolinx. “The current GO Rail Network Electrification Transit Project Assessment process is reviewing all impacts from expanding GO service and electrifying core areas of the network.”
Barrasa says the current planning process is slated for completion by the end of 2017.
The RER project has a budget of approximately $13.5 billion.
With the 20-kilometre Lakeshore East extension plans, four new stations are envisioned to spring up along the route that is set to follow the CP mainline north of Highway 401. Due to that, a new bridge is needed across the highway in the area of the Oshawa-Whitby boundary.
Of the four new stations, two are planned for Oshawa, one at the former Knobhill Farms grocery store site on Ritson Road, a site Metrolinx purchased in 2014, and the other on Thornton Road in the Consumers Drive area. It’s this location that is currently the centre of an appeal before the Ontario Municipal Board by Halloway Developments, the owner of the property.
However, the details remain fuzzy about when the extension will get underway.
In June of last year, when the province announced the Lakeshore East extension as part of a $160 billion infrastructure influx over the next 12 years, it wasn’t shared just how much would be put toward the project.
At the time, the province envisioned the extension to be up and running by 2024.