$2.1 billion Confederation Line reaches 50 per cent completion stage

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            Federal funds uncertain for project’s second phase

Ottawa Construction News staff writer

Ottawa’s $2.1 billion Confederation Line light rail transit project has passed the 50 per cent completion stage, and rail implementation director Steve Cripps confirms the work is on budget and schedule.

However, questions remain about the project’s next phase, with federal funding uncertainty.

Media representatives, including OCN’s Tim Lawlor, toured the Confederation Line in mid-August with VIPS, including Premier Kathleen Wynne, Mayor Jim Watson and Conservative Ottawa-Orleans MP Royal Galipeau.

The group visited the 441-m. west-end tunnel leading to Lyon Station, which is essentially complete. There’s another 250 m. still to be excavated in the central part of the 2.5 km. tunnel towards Parliament Station, and much work to be done on the actual station, as well as the maintenance and storage (MSF) facility.

Cripps said work is progressing well on the Waller St. excavation despite an earlier issue with soil conditions and the challenge of a resulting sinkhole.

While the progress marks positive news, the project’s second phase remains uncertain.

The federal and provincial governments have each contributed $600 million to the Confederation Line, with the balance coming from the city.

Funding hasn’t been finalized for the second phase, which would extend the project to the east, south (with a possible airport spur) and Algonquin College, expected to be constructed from 2018 to 2023 and with an early estimated $3 billion cost.

The city hopes to split the bill three ways with the provincial and federal governments.

Wynne repeated during the August project tour that the province’s “commitment remains in place,” even though the city won’t make its formal funding request until late next year or early 2016.

The federal government has taken a less clear position, however.

“We haven’t received the plan for Phase 2 yet, and when it comes, I’m sure that we’ll be at the table,” the Ottawa Citizen quoted Galipeau as saying. “I’m not sure that we’re going to underwrite everybody’s plans, because everybody wants more money than the taxpayers can afford. But we will be there.”

Rideau Transit Group has undertaken this first stage in Ottawa’s future rail network. The 12.5-kilometre electric light rail system replaces existing diesel powered buses, providing rapid transit between Blair Station in the east and Tunney’s Pasture in the west. The route includes 13 stations and a 2.5-kilometre tunnel that will alleviate congestion through the downtown core.

Other construction updates:

  • Drilling for the sixth portal umbrella has been completed and shotcreting and pouring of the mudslab will follow.
  • In the central shaft, the Parliament Station cavern bench is being mined, along with the tunnel bench. Pouring of the mudslab is anticipated next. Cavern reinforcement, including shotcreting, installation of umbrellas, rockbolts and mesh continues.
  • At the MSF, the delivery of the Petrucco track support system and mobilization of steel is ongoing. Steel erection has also started.
  • Hurdman Bridge and St. Laurent Overpass widening and median rehabilitation has commenced.
  • At the Vanier Parkway Overpass, where a rapid bridge replacement is scheduled for fall 2014, work is advancing in the staging area including forming and pouring the new superstructure’s parapet walls, curing and stripping the overhang, sidewalk and median. Erection of the steel piers is also ongoing.
  • Demolition of the existing Belfast Rd. underpass continues and at the Lees Ave. Underpass new bridge construction continues, in preparation for rapid replacement in September.

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