Island airport to get tunnel, money, passengers and Air Canada

Island airport to get tunnel, money, passengers and Air Canada

The shortest ferry ride in the world is about to be sidestepped by a $45 million investment from the Toronto Port Authority: an underground pedestrian bridge leading to Billy Bishop airport. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2011, and the 123-metre tunnel will be built 30 metres below Lake Ontario. The costs will be covered by airline users through an airport improvement fee hike, as well as by the private sector. Geoffrey Wilson, the TPA’s president and CEO, told CTV that the improvement fee will be raised from $15 to $20, but will not exceed that amount and will still be below Pearson’s $25 improvement fee.

The pedestrian tunnel is intended to serve the growing number of jet-setters flying from the island. Now that Air Canada and Continental Airlines have moved in on Porter’s turf, the niche airport has burgeoned into a bona fide travel hub. Wilson told the Toronto Star that in 2005, a mere 25,000 passengers per year were using the airport. Last year that spiked to 770,000, and in 2010 they’re expecting between 1.2 and 1.3 million passengers.

The tunnel won’t just be a utilitarian passageway like downtown’s underground Path system. Wilson says the TPA is determined to make the tunnel aesthetically pleasing:

It’s going to be very functional, very easy to use, very pleasing to use for those who haven’t previously experienced using a tunnel to access an airport. I think it will anchor the airport and allow us to manage continued growth of passenger volumes.

TPA to build tunnel to Billy Bishop island airport [CTV]
Construction on island airport to start next year [Toronto Star]
Pedestrian tunnel planned for island airport [Toronto Sun]