Broadway Subway's second tunnel-boring machine reaches Mount Pleasant Station

Mar 20 2023, 11:42 pm

The tunnel-boring machine named Phyllis saw daylight this past Saturday when it broke through the underground box for Mount Pleasant Station of SkyTrain’s Millennium Line Broadway Extension.

This comes almost exactly two months after her sister, Elsie, arrived at Mount Pleasant in late January.

According to the provincial government, Phyllis has now excavated 725 metres of tunnel and installed 494 concrete liner rings between the tunnel-boring staging area at Great Northern Way-Emily Carr Station and Mount Pleasant Station, which is located at the intersection of Main Street and East Broadway.

Once the machines enter the underground station boxes, they are incrementally moved to the other end of the box on steel rails, and regular maintenance is also conducted during this downtime before the machines restart their boring and tunnel construction process.

phyllis mount pleasant station broadway subway breakthrough march 2023

Tunnel boring machine Phyllis broke through Mount Pleasant Station on March 18, 2023. (Government of BC)

Elsie resumed digging on March 4 for her next breakthrough, which will be at Broadway-City Hall, where a major interchange transfer hub between the Canada Line and Millennium Line will be established.

Elsie is building the eastbound tunnel, while Phyllis is constructing the westbound tunnel. There was a staggered launch of the machines in late 2022, with Elsie beginning drilling on October 7 and Phyllis on November 29.

Full-scale major construction activities on the multi-level underground station structures towards completion will only begin after the tunnel boring machines pass through the stations. After Phyllis restarts her journey towards Broadway-City Hall Station, expect major construction work to begin on finishing Mount Pleasant Station.

mount pleasant station

Construction progress on Mount Pleasant Station, as of January 2023. (Government of BC)

mount pleasant station broadway subway construction february 2023

The first columns to support the underground multi-level structure of Mount Pleasant Station begin to rise, shortly after the arrival of tunnel boring machine Elsie. Construction progress as of February 2023. (Kenneth Chan/Daily Hive)

After passing through the Millennium Line’s box for Broadway-City Hall Station, which is particularly deep in order to dive under the Canada Line tunnel, the machines will also go through the boxes for VGH-Oak Station and South Granville Station.

If all goes as planned, the tunnel boring process should reach full completion sometime in Fall 2023.

Both machines will be extracted from a pit at Cypress Street — one block east of Arbutus Station — after digging five km of twin tunnels.

The two-city block span of West Broadway between Arbutus and Maple streets is in the process of being excavated, with the westernmost block set to become Arbutus Station and the easternmost block dedicated to a significant track switch, which will provide the ability for trains at the terminus station to reverse course.

broadway-city hall station skytrain subway march 2023

Construction progress on the Millennium Line station structure beneath West Broadway for Broadway-City Hall Station, as of March 2023. (Government of BC)

The entire extension of the Millennium Line and the six new subway stations are anticipated to open in early 2026. This accounts for a slight delay; the $2.8-billion project was originally scheduled for an opening in late 2025, but a five-week strike of local concrete plant workers in June 2022 pushed the start of tunnel boring from Summer 2022 to Fall 2022.

On a seamless one-train ride on the Millennium Line, travel times from Arbutus Station will be about six minutes to Broadway-City Hall Station, 11 minutes to VCC-Clark Station, 12 minutes to Commercial-Broadway Station, and 47 minutes to Lafarge-Lake Douglas Station in Coquitlam.

Upon opening, it is expected to see a significant ridership of between 135,000 and 150,000 boardings per day — more than the entire Canada Line in 2019.

Until the further extension of the Millennium Line between Arbutus Station and the University of British Columbia (UBC) campus is built, the remaining journey to UBC will be made by a truncated 99 B-Line route from the bus exchange at Arbutus Station.

Detailed technical design and planning work on the UBC SkyTrain extension will begin in Summer 2023. TransLink anticipates the UBC SkyTrain extension will be completed sometime between 2030 and 2035 — within the latter half of the Mayors’ Council’s 10-year priorities between 2025 and 2035.

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