Tunnel boring begins on Vancouver’s Broadway Subway Project

Oct. 10, 2022
One TBM will begin excavation followed the by the second this winter and are expected to take about a year to complete tunnel boring for the five-kilometer subway extension project.

Two behemoths named Elsie and Phyllis are helping push the Broadway Subway Project forward in Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, in a big way. After months of prepping the launch site and assembling the tunnel boring machines (TBMs), the province of British Columbia says tunnel excavation has begun.

The TBMs will launch separately from the Great Northern Way-Emily Carr Station and are expected to take about a year to tunnel five kilometers (3.1 miles) to Cypress Street. Elsie, named after Elizabeth MacGill, will begin work first. The second TBM, Phyllis, named after Phyllis Munday, is expected to begin tunnel boring this winter after assembly is complete.

“This is an exciting milestone for a critical infrastructure project that will transform the way people travel and live in and around the Broadway corridor,” said B.C. Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming. “The Broadway Subway will provide affordable and efficient transit connections throughout the Lower Mainland, and it’s also going to create new opportunities for affordable housing, community amenities and commercial services along the route.”

The Broadway Subway Project will extend the SkyTrain Millennium Line 5.7 kilometers (3.5 miles) from VCC-Clark Station to Broadway and Arbutus. The C$2.83-billion (US$2.34-billion) subway project is being funded by the government of British Columbia, which is contributing C$1.83 billion (US$1.51 billion), the government of Canada, which is contributing C$896.9 million (US$740.18 million) and the city of Vancouver, which is contributing C$99.8 million (US$82.36 million).

The province noted the expanded line will “transform the way people travel and live” along the corridor, as well as the region.

“The Broadway corridor is an incredibly important economic region in Vancouver and a vital route for commuters,” said B.C. Minister of Environment and Climate Change Strategy George Heyman.

The TBMs will bore through the underground material, move excavated material out of the tunnel via a conveyor system and deposit tunnel liner rings. The province reports work is progressing on the elevated guideway and station locations along the line, including relocating utilities, building traffic decks and excavation. Once tunnel boring finishes, crews will complete construction of the underground stations and install the train tracks and supporting systems. The final steps include testing and commissioning the new line.

“The Broadway Subway will be a game changer for commuters on one of the busiest corridors in Metro Vancouver,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Quinn. “This major milestone brings us one step closer to opening a vital zero-emission rapid transit connection that will move approximately 150,000 people per day, reduce congestion and lower greenhouse gas emissions.”

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.