$45-million tunnel to the Island Airport one step closer to reality

$45-million tunnel to the Island Airport one step closer to reality

The Island Airport is something this city hates to love—and boy, does Porter know it. Between the free cappuccinos and the in-flight hooch, the young, scrappy and successful airline has served more than one million passengers in the past year. The biggest hassle for those clients at the moment? The inner harbour with the oh-so-sluggish ferry. The Toronto Port Authority wants to change that with a tunnel to the airport, and the project just passed one of the hurdles on its way to putting shovels in the ground.

So says the Toronto Star:

A controversial project to create a pedestrian tunnel to the island airport won’t hurt the environment, according to an independent report commissioned by the Toronto Port Authority.

The draft environmental assessment states there will be “no permanent significant environmental effects” and “minimal” construction impacts from digging a 123-metre tunnel from Eireann Quay at the bottom of Bathurst St. to the Billy Bishop island airport.

The draft report brings the port authority a step closer to the planned $45 million tunnel, for which construction is expected to start in 2011.

The biggest political hurdle to all this was probably David Miller, the outgoing mayor. Rob Ford, on the other hand, told the National Post he was “absolutely” in favour of a fixed link back in September.  The Island gave Ford his lowest share of the vote of anywhere in Toronto and is represented by Ford’s nemesis, Adam Vaughan. But Ford’s probably not being crassly political when he supports a tunnel; he’s just being his usual pro-business self.

And business is only going to get bigger, with Porter expanding its number of routes and Air Canada and Continental both coming to the island next year. Port Authority critics are slamming the environmental assessment as basically bought and paid for, and warning about more flights, noise and pollution from the airport. Toronto travellers have heard all that and said, “Can we have some more?”

Environmental assessment okays tunnel to island airport [Toronto Star]
Island airport tunnel fight heats up [Toronto Sun]
Proposed island airport tunnel clears a hurdle [Globe and Mail]
• Port Authority tries to trick the public: CommunityAIR [The Bulletin]

(Image: Still The Oldie, from the Toronto Life Flickr pool)