GO Transit is about to take a Pan Am pause on its Exhibition station modernization. But most of the $32.5-million makeover remains incomplete three years after construction began.
Metrolinx is blaming the bitter winter and a need to incorporate a new retaining wall on the south side of the tracks for delaying the project. It means that the platforms, a new north pedestrian entrance and elevator won't be ready before the Pan Am Games.
The station, like many work sites in the region, is nevertheless being tidied and prepared for a work stoppage during the games in July, when Exhibition Place takes on a starring role on the Pan Am cultural and sporting scene.
The new north stairs and pedestrian tunnel won't be complete until the fall.
Wider platforms, including canopies and snow-melting systems won't be finished for another two years.
That's because the scope of the project changed to incorporate a TTC request for a new retaining wall on the south side of the station.
"This work would result in tearing up the east platform so the project team advised the contractor to delay the east platform work until the retaining wall is complete," said Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins.
The TTC is paying for that and it doesn't change the Metrolinx budget for the project, she said.
A strike by elevator workers last year means those contractors had a backlog of work and, since Exhibition was already accessible, it didn't go to the top of their priority list, she said.
The lengthy construction period is also due to the complications of keeping the station operational while the work is going on, said Aikins.
On an average weekday, about 1,900 people use the Exhibition stop.
"It's an important stop for us. During special events it will be much higher than that. It needs more space during the Canadian National Exhibition," she said.
But it is particularly key during the Pan Am Games, when the Ex will be transformed into CIBC Pan Am Park. There will be 16 sporting events and 50 live musical performances there.
Even before the provincial commitment to electrified regional express rail, Metrolinx was modernizing its stations to make room for more customers, increase accessibility and standardize their look.
"These have just become that much more important," said Aikins.
- With files from Sarah-Joyce Battersby