The 853-feet tunnel, which after delays took more than three years to build and cost $82.5 million, will be able to transport 1,100 people per hour via four automated pedways. Officials say no tax dollars were spent on building the tunnel.
The concept of a tunnel to Toronto Island is more than a century old.
Proposed long before an Island airport was ever dreamed of and a full year before the first Canadian to fly in a powered aircraft (John McCurdy in the “Silver Dart”) the tunnel under Toronto Bay wasperceived as a way for the public to get to and from the Island on an electric streetcar for a fare that was cheaper than those demanded by the “mercenary” ferry operators. And the tunnel would be safer in inclement weather.
To be sure up until the time the peninsula was separated from the mainland during a major storm that deluged the community that breached what is now the East Gap on April 13, 1858 anyone could walk or ride to what Governor John Simcoe’s wife Elizabeth called her “favourite sands.”
On Thursday, for the first time since that stormy day 157 years ago, people can once again walk to the Island (well at least to the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport at Hanlan’s Point). The tunnel’s official opening, to which the public is invited, will be at 11:00 a.m. July 30, 2015.