Cut And Cover Subway Construction, Coming to Broadway?


Is cut and cover subway construction coming to Broadway?

The following was sent to Zwei this week and it poses some interesting questions, but first a comment from our friend Mr. Haveacow, responding to the comment in the April 2, 2019 post; “Toronto’s 6.2 KM Scarborough Subway Costs Soar To $3.9 Billion – What Will be The Real Cost Of The BS Line?”

One of the problems with cost reporting is Apple to Orange comparisons. In the report that @Stephen Wickens highlighted, many of the costs he thought were the same are not. The report mentioned legal issues, but what even he didn’t realize is that, many of the subway cost components could only be estimated and many are overestimated because the project timeline length under P3 bidding required certain component costs to be considered non-public information and secret due to bidding and copyright issues for up to a decade after the project is finished.

Other problems like the concrete used in today’s projects is considerably different than the concrete used in earlier projects. Due to strength/safety, longevity and air pollution issues, today’s concrete is much more expensive than concrete used in the past. In fact, there are certain popular concrete formulations used in the 1970′s for example, legally speaking, just can’t be used today. These kind of comparisons make something like a construction cost project database proposed in the report, very difficult if not out right impossible and even unfortunately, possibly, slightly illegal.

Station to Station Why Have Subway Costs Soared in the Toronto Region

Zwei is just sounding the alarm that subways are a very expensive game, that politicians love to play. The more unscrupulous politicians are claiming that a subway will cure our transportation ills;  “just build it and they will come“.

Sadly for the taxpayer, subways built on routes without the ridership to sustain them, tend to be a gift that keeps on taking: higher taxes; higher user fees; higher fares; while regional transit services suffer because the subway tends to be a black hole for money.

Notice no one at TransLink or on the Mayor’s Council on Transit, and Metro Vancouver have stated the real operating costs or annual subsidies needed just for the Broadway Subway.

The true cost of the Canada line subway is hidden withing the 35 year P-3 agreement with the province and the SNC Lavalin lead consortium operating the line. Last year TransLink paid over $110 million to SNC Lavalin for operating the line.


The real costs for "rapid transit" (subways and light-metro) are far higher than TransLink or the regional mayor's are telling the public and for good reason, because if the public knew the real cost of "rapid transit" they project would lose public support.


As the cost of the Broadway subway increases and it will, TransLink and the Mayors Council on Transit will look for ways to reduce the scope of the project. With the the Canada Line, cut and cover saved over $400 million in construction costs, especially when no compensation was in the budget for s,adjacent surface businesses.

B.C. Supreme Court documents related to lawsuits brought by Cambie Street merchants show SNC-Lavalin’s decision to employ cut-and-cover rather than boring tunnels for about one-third of the 19.2 km line cut costs by more than $400-million, or 16%, enabling the project to hit its fixed $2.1-billion budget.

Please note: Documents from the Susan Heyes lawsuit against TransLink showed that the actual cost of the Canada line could be higher than $2.6 billion, as these costs hidden in the generous P-3 arrangement, which being a private contract is immune from public scrutiny.

The Broadway subway, like the Canada Line, will probably be cut and cover; the political costs for the NDP and Vancouver politicians supporting the subway, could be akin to political suicide.

Postscript from Mr. Hacveacow.

 The one stop subway project ended in, when the Conservatives under Doug Ford were elected. The new project which is fully funded and has almost finished its EA process and engineering work, it is expected to start construction in 2024-2025 and be open around 2029-2030. The extension is now 7.8 km to Sheppard and McCowan Ave. and has 3 stations. This is from one of the Metrolinx Reports.

Scarborough (Bloor-Danforth/Line#2) Subway Extension
The Scarborough subway extension will finally deliver the three-stop subway connectivity that residents of Scarborough deserve.

Runs From: Kennedy station to Sheppard/McCowan
Length: 7.8 km
Stations: 3
Cost: $4.8 Billion – $5.5 Billion


One Response to “Cut And Cover Subway Construction, Coming to Broadway?”
  1. Major Hoople says:

    Yes, subways, the great panacea, yet subways nearly bankrupted Germany’s public transport systems, but sowed the seeds of the tram and tramway revival in Germany.

    Not well know, in Germany the plan was to replace tramways with subways, but the huge costs, maintenance issues and the public dislike for subways paved the way got the revival of the tram.

    Recent polls show that transit customers prefer the tram over subways by a wide margin, which ensures future generations of the benefits of the tram.

    The subway also shows the complete failure of the SkyTrain system or whatever it is called today because it was designed to be elevated to reduce the cost of subway construction, and that was in the 1970’s! 50 years and politicians on your side of the pond still have not learned such basic lessons.

Leave A Comment