As the PortsToronto press release states,
“A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place the morning of July 30, to celebrate the opening of the tunnel with the public able to access the tunnel shortly thereafter. Details are as follows:
What: Ribbon Cutting Ceremony
When: July 30, 2015 at 11:00 a.m.
Where: Island-side Atrium at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport
Who: Speakers to be confirmed; details to follow
Hoi Polloi Take Note
Ordinary paying customers needn’t race to get there before 11 AM. That time is reserved exclusively for the dignitaries and the media for the ribbon cutting and a tour.
Who’s All Going?
As of Monday, January 27, three days before the event, we still don’t know. PortsToronto has ye to announce their star power.
Likely participants are Mayor John Tory whose son works for a firm at the airport that provides charter flights.
Transport minister Lisa Raitt may or may not be there. Apparently no one tells her anything as her ignorance on a Fiat recall will attest.
A long shot is Mexico’s Shorty Guzman. ‘El Chapo’ knows a thing or two about tunnels. He recently used a 4,921-foot-long tunnel that was built in a little over a year. PortsToronto’s 500 foot tunnel took over three years.
Tunnel Q and A
No doubt PortsToronto in its spirit of openness will take questions at the opening. Here are a few they may wish to respond to.
Tell Us about the Tunnel Please
- If the tunnel was not prohibited as a “fixed link”, why did PoTo insist it was legal for years before quietly getting the Harper government to pass an order-in-council to legitimize its construction?
- What obscure military figure will PortsToronto chair Mark McQueen name the tunnel after?
- Wouldn’t it be more suitable to name the tunnel after him given all the political strings required to build it?
- Why did the price for the tunnel jump from $20 million (Star June 3, 2009) to $38 million in August 2009, to. $45 million when PortsToronto Board Chair was trying to sell the project to $82 million today?
- What will the final price be when it’s all paid for?
- The tunnel’s annual operating costs to PortsToronto are estimated at $1.3 million plus “Service payments” of $6,583,000 per year. Will these be covered by the airport improvement fees?
- The TPA says the tunnel is necessary to smooth passenger flow, that tends to bunch up with ferry arrivals, leading to a few minutes delay. Is that really worth $82.5 million? Or are there better ways to spend a public agency’s revenue stream?
- This is infrastructure that almost exclusively benefits Porter – it holds a near monopoly of the rights to fly out of that Airport. If this is such a good deal, why isn’t Porter paying?
- What is PortsToronto’s Plan B to pay the tunnel’s annual operating costs if/when PortsToronto income falters? Porter’s never been financially successful, on the evidence to date, and the airline industry is notorious for financial disasters. Has the TPA guaranteed the private investment in the tunnel, placing the taxpayer at risk?
- Why did PortsToronto create so many false starts in naming a date for the tunnel opening?
- What’s the electrical backup in the case of a power failure?
- How long will the electrical backup last?
- What kind of emergencies will close the tunnel?
- When the tunnel is open and PortsToronto board chair Mark McQueen has his moment of glory, will he resign from the PortsToronto board and move on his other patronage appointment as chair of the Windsor-Detroit Bridge Authority? Will the cost of the $2.1 billion Gordie Howe International Bridge double under his watch? Indeed, given that his term of office has long since expired, why is he still on the board, let alone still Chair?
- How many lawsuits over the tunnel is PortsToronto named in?
- Is water seeping up through the bottom of the tunnel?
- How many pumps are required to keep the tunnel dry?
- Will all BBTCA passengers be issued any kind of protective footwear or will it be only for the time-sensitive business traveller?