Light rail project to be largest project in Ottawa’s history

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            Rideau Transit Group wins mammoth $2.1 billion contract

Ottawa Construction News staff writer

            Construction of the new $2.1 billion Confederation Line light rail transit project should begin soon, with completion in 2018 – providing an overall boost to the city’s construction economy.

            The project, the largest public works initiative in Ottawa’s history, will generate 3,200 person-years of direct trades employment, Mayor Jim Watson said in early December.   Overall, spin-off jobs will create more than 20,000 years of employment.

            City council approved Rideau Transit Group to design, build, finance and build the mammoth project at its meeting on Dec. 19 after an extensive review process and comprehensive proposals by three short-listed consortia.

            The consortia is led by Spanish builder ACS Infrastructure, with participation from Canadian engineering giant SNC-Lavalin and contractor EllisDon.  Ottawa firm bbb Architects is designing the stations on the 12.5 km east-west route, with underground stations for the 2.5 km downtown stretch.

                        Mayor Jim Watson announced the Rideau Transit Group selection on Dec. 5, with premier Dalton McGuinty and Royal Galipeau, member of parliament for Ottawa-Orleans.

                        Other contractors and sub-trades are likely to benefit from the work as the 13-station project absorbs capacity and resources, reducing competitive stress – and thus allowing higher profitability – for other projects to be built as the LRT project is completed.

            The LRT project also includes the building and financing of the Highway 417 widening project from the Nicholas Street on ramp to the split with Highway 174.

            “Today is an exciting milestone for this important project,” said Premier McGuinty at the announcement. “It will create jobs, help the environment by taking cars off the road and contribute to a better quality of life for the people of Ottawa.”

            “Our government is pleased to invest in this important job-creating project for a new light rail corridor that will make public transit faster and more efficient for Ottawa residents,” said MP Galipeau. “This project demonstrates the Government of Canada’s commitment to working with municipal and provincial partners to support infrastructure improvements and transit solutions for the twenty-first century.”

            “Council set a strong direction for this procurement to deliver an excellent light rail system that comes in on time and on budget. I am proud to say that we have succeeded,” Watson said.“Given the importance of this project to Canada’s national capital and its close relationship with our sesquicentennial celebrations in 2017, I am also pleased to announce that the City will be naming this system the Confederation Line.”

            Rideau Transit Group’s proposal outlines a construction schedule that will see project construction substantially complete by the end of 2017 and in service by 2018. Moreover, the Rideau Transit Group has agreed to a fixed price contract of $2.1 billion, meaning the City and Ottawa taxpayers will not be financially responsible for cost overruns related to construction.

            Funding for the Confederation Line is being provided by the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, and the City of Ottawa. The Government of Canada is contributing $600 million through the Building Canada Fund. The city will also allocate up to $192 million of its federal Gas Tax Fund transfers to this project. The Government of Ontario is contributing $600 million. In addition, the city will allocate $287 million of provincial gas tax receipts to the capital infrastructure. The remaining project budget funds will come from development charge revenues and transit reserves.

            The report and Rideau Transit Group’s designs and construction schedule are available on the OLRT project website www.ottawalightrail.ca. In addition, the City will be hosting a number of design showcases for Ottawa residents to see Rideau Transit Group’s proposals first hand and have their questions answered by project staff.

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