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Trapped boring machine could cost Toronto taxpayers up to $25 million

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The removal of a boring machine trapped under a street in Toronto’s west end could cost taxpayers up to $25 million, according to documents from the City of Toronto.

The machine has been stuck under Old Mill Drive, near Bloor Street West, since June of last year. The machine was first installed in March 2022 to build a storm sewer in response to frequent basement flooding in the area.

Less than a month into construction, the boring machine became ensnared in steel tiebacks, or industrial wires buried during the pre-build process for two nearby condos. The machine soon became tangled in the wires, unable to vacate the tunnel without intervention from the city.

Following an initial rescue estimate of $7.2 million, a February report from the city said the machine would be fully removed by the end of March, with an updated $9 million price tag.

Four months later, that price has tripled – including applicable taxes, the city says the cost could surpass $25 million – and the project is estimated to be completed in August.

Face of the micro-tunnelling boring machine entangled in a steel tieback. (City of Toronto)

The remaining work to be done in order to retrieve the machine includes the completion of a recovery tunnel, the installation of 12.5 metres of sewer pipe and what are expected to be significant repairs to the boring machine.

The final cost for these efforts will be announced once all invoices are processed by the city.

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