10 Reasons Why Construction at Union Station is Taking So Long

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Sitting proudly at the bottom of downtown Toronto, Union Station is the busiest passenger transportation station in Canada. Union not only provides access to the TTC, but also to GO Transit and VIA Rail. It’s basically a one-stop-shop as far as transit goes.

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But for as long as I can remember , getting through, around or even near Union Station has been an epic nightmare. Walking from the subway to the street involves navigating through a concrete maze, brushing shoulders with about 20 people who are fighting to make it out first, and dodging lost individuals who resemble confused zombies, walking in circles and mumbling incoherent words.

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The platforms used to be so narrow that an employee had to constantly direct passengers to ensure that no one would mistakenly be pushed over the edge.

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All of these terrible events, which hundreds of thousands of people must endure every week day, are a result of construction.

True, Union Station was becoming intolerably overcrowded years ago and something had to be done. So in 2003, public consultations and planning meetings were held to figure out a plan for a solution. So...............

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It was decided that the current platform would be rebuilt to serve only the University line trains, and a new platform would be constructed on the south side of the existing tracks to serve the Yonge line trains.

The plan also involves expanding the concourse to include a single TTC fare-paid area and separate pedestrian by-pass routes. It should be noted that Metrolinx is also overseeing a series of extensive upgrades and renovations to the building which will bring improvements for GO Transit and VIA Rail users, but we’ll leave the details of that mess for another time.

Construction commenced in February 2011, and progress has been made since then. But after dealing with this massive project for 4 years, many of us are beyond frustrated. We’ve got just one question for the City....

Why is this taking so damn long??????

We asked a few construction workers at Union that very question, but as keen as they were to help us out (or take us out on dates, we don't know), their hands were tied (company rules and stuff, you know). PR couldn’t gossip about their client either without the TTC’s written consent (what's your job again? Like...what do you do...), so we came up with 10 of our own answers.

1) Too Ambitious

This project is enormous, and while the City probably wants to get it all done at once, it’s just too much for one station to handle. Union Station’s revitalization is a $665-million job (but the final cost will likely be higher) that aims to improve its capacity for pedestrians, restore heritage elements and generate more money by adding more shops and restaurants.  In order to improve the TTC, GO Transit and VIA Rail, a lot of demolition and rebuilding is required. The City also wants to make sure Toronto looks it’s best for the 2015 PanAm Games, but looks aren’t everything.

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2) Too Many Smoke Breaks

More than one third of construction workers smoked in 2011, which is a relatively high number compared to other industries. It’s also estimated that smokers waste 30 – 45 minutes each day while on smoke breaks which adds up to 2.5 – 3.75 hours each week.

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3) Too Many Shovels in the Hole

I don’t know much about construction, but I’m pretty sure it doesn't take 4 guys to fill a hole (that's what she said). But that’s none of my business.

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4) 'It's Too Cold Outside Boss!'

Living in Southwestern Ontario means we get all the weather. Sometimes that’s good, other times it’s really really bad. No adult wants to trudge around in a foot of snow let alone work in it, but construction workers are supposed to be unaffected by the elements, they’re supposed to conquer the harsh climates. But  more often than not the alleged these guys are hiding from the snow in a heated work tent sipping coffee or hot chocolate. The only time they’ll set foot in snow is lunchtime. So much for being rugged.

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5) 'It's Too Hot Outside Boss!'

There’s a general understanding that as a construction worker, you’ll be working outside. If you don’t like the heat then maybe you should choose a different profession. And  besides, who can focus when there are all these fine ladies walking around in the city swinging their hips. The city needs whistlers, more than a god damn station. WHAT'S MORE IMPORTANT PEOPLE?

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6) 'It's Too Wet Outside Boss!'

Who wants to trudge around in a river of water let alone work in it, but construction workers and mud go together like milk and cookies. Are they afraid of getting their jeans wet? Maybe a yellow rain jacket doesn’t do their bodies any justice. Or perhaps the reason why we never see anyone working at Union when it’s raining is because the workers are actually made of sugar and melt as soon as rain droplets touch their delicate sugary crystals.

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7) 'It's Too Windy Outside Boss!'

 A strong gust of wind may destroy your umbrella or hairdo, but construction workers see it as a reason to stop building, nailing and securing. Concerned they might lose their only blueprint to the wind, they retreat to the work tent. Cat videos on Youtube, Facebook photos of anyone but their wives, you know, the youzhe (the short version of usual, apparently that's how you spell it. Who knew?)

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8) Conveniently Located Bars Nearby

They work hard, they play hard, and since they’re steps away from some of the best restaurants and bars in the city, construction workers at Union don’t have to look far to find a party. Besides, Jimmy's birthday is tonight and he rarely comes out after work. And Frank just got engaged. So what if it’s Tuesday?

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9) Poor Management

“Who is in charge? I am? Oh I thought it was Jimmy. Hmm well you’ve already used up a day’s worth of wood and it’s only 11 a.m. How about you take a break Frank and we’ll go from there. I need to ask Dave what to do next.” Figure it out guys. Poor management equals less productively and longer construction periods.

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10) YOU

That's right. You're an asshole. You are part of the reason why construction at Union is taking so long. Instead of closing down the entire station, construction workers have to build around pedestrians like you and ensure they remain safe while the project is being executed.

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Substantial project completion is expected by July, but construction will continue into 2016. Be patient, it’s almost finished. And to be honest, the guys at Union are working very hard. For more information, visit here. Oh and this is what it's going to look like:

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