By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
Local politicians and citizens erupted in applause as Durham MPP Lindsey Park announced Metrolinx has selected a preferred option for expansion of the Lakeshore East rail line.
Park, along with Whitby MPP Lorne Coe, confirmed after a lengthy study a proposal would be brought forward to Metrolinx’s board of directors on Thursday, Feb. 20.
The selected route will see the line move northeast from the existing Oshawa GO Station on Bloor Street to a new station on Thornton’s Corners near the city’s border with Whitby.
It would then continue east into the downtown core with a station located at the former Ontario Malleable Iron Company and Knob Hill Farms building on Howard Street, just west of Ritson Road.
The line would then continue east, with stops in Courtice and Bowmanville.
Park said the proposed expansion would see all-day, two-way service, with trains moving express from Union Station to Pickering, then making stops at all GO stations within Durham Region.
As to why Metrolinx selected this option, Park said it utilizes existing rail infrastructure to cross Highway 401, services all major population areas and allows for the current Oshawa GO Station to remain open.
“This all helps to bring costs on the project down,” Park said.
The existing station received a major face-lift, completed in October 2017, which included a modernized ticket counter, a larger waiting area, and a pedestrian bridge to the VIA Rail platform.
As well, the Durham MPP said the preferred route would provide better connections to local transit.
According to her, Metrolinx officials will be working with local municipalities and the Region of Durham to build “transit-friendly communities” to keep the costs of building the actual stations in check.
Oshawa Dan Carter, who clapped enthusiastically at Park’s announcement, said he is very pleased with Metrolinx’s decision.
He told The Oshawa Express when the project was put back under review, he was “full of anxiety.”
However, that anxiety has been turned into excitement and optimism.
“I’m over the moon in regards to it. Because this announcement, and the next stages, will change our community over the next 50 years,” he said. “It’s not only great for the health and well-being of our community, especially those who have to travel long ways to get to work, but it will also change our economy.”