Journal: Don Mills Station|
Sheppard subway construction (several occasions 1999): I continued to probe the depths of the under-construction Sheppard line all month long, with varying degrees of success, but always having a really fantastic time. Over the course of six or seven different trips, I think I've finally managed to see all the most interesting sights, and I'm pretty sure the Sheppard subway will be the focus of Infiltration 13.
After meeting up with Leftist and his friend Sara at Fairview Mall, I lead them to the oversized viewing hole I'd used the week before and coaxed them through. We descended the seven storeys into the pit and I showed them around a bit. After peaking in on the blueprints, we continued to the west, crossing under the wooden boards supporting all the traffic on Don Mills seven storeys above.
We came upon a large lake of wet cement, which we were able to circumvent without leaving tracks. The next hurdle was a vast, wet pit covered only by thin, crisscrossing metal bars. Sara and I tightrope-walked across these with relative ease, but the balance-impaired Leftist had quite a bit of trouble making it over. After the pit, we next entered a wide expanse of sand dunes and pits, and a fleet of small bulldozers and forklifts, which we somehow resisted using as bumper cars.
Leaving the sandy area, we came upon a tall wooden fence. We pried back one of the boards to reveal a large support wall with a gigantic tunnel boring machine sticking out of it! It seemed the TBM had just that day broken through from the Leslie tunnels into the Don Mills pit. After a few photos of the outside of the TBM, the three of us hopped through a gap in the tube wall to investigate the TBM and its lair.
After another look at the TBM, I persuaded Leftist and Sara that we should walk down the tunnel towards Leslie. Our progress along the tracks was very slow, as the sloppy grey muck at our feet was quite deep, and there were no boards running along the side of the tunnel to make our journey easier. We'd travelled about a kilometer into the tunnel when Leftist declared that he needed a rest. While we waited, I thought I heard a voice off in the distance. Straining my eyes to see as far down the tunnel as possible, I thought I saw a vaguely humanoid figure wearing a hardhat, but I had to stare intently for several moments to determine that it was moving. I guess the worker felt my stare, because just then he started yelling at us, though we were so far away that I could barely hear his voice, let alone make out his words.
I turned around to face Leftist and Sara, who were absorbed in conversation and hadn't noticed the turn of events. In a voice that made it very clear I wasn't joking, I said "I think we should make as hasty a retreat as possible." I explained the details as we fled back up the tunnel. Sara was almost running along one rail, I was hopping from board to rail to board, and Leftist was simply trudging along through the shallow muck at the side of the tunnel. As we retreated, I took out my pocket flashlight and flashed it behind us three times, in the way that I've seen TTC workers do to one another when they spot each other from a distance inside the subway tunnels. I hoped this might confuse the workers enough to keep them from calling the police.
Before long we were back at the TBM. As I jumped out of the side of the tunnel into the pit beyond, a loud voice came over a radio calling out in Spanish or Italian. Had the workers assumed we were co-workers because of the flashlight trick? There was no time to speculate. The three of us hopped onto a temporary orange staircase near the end of the pit and raced up seven storeys to the surface. We then crawled along a support beam and climbed through a wooden fence to step back on solid ground. No police cars or security vehicles seemed to be waiting for us, so we quickly exited through a gap in the fence and began to stroll along Sheppard, looking completely innocent aside from being coated in grey muck from the knees down.
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