RTG won’t bid on major portion of Ottawa LRT’s $3.6 billion second phase – East, west and south extension construction to commence in 2018

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Ottawa Construction News staff writer

The Rideau Transit Group (RTG), which is building the Ottawa Light Rail Transit (LRT) system’s first phase, will not be allowed to bid on the largest part of project’s second component – new east-west tracks, which will now extend from Tunney’s Pasture to Moodie Dr., instead of stopping at the Bayshore Shopping Centre.

Municipal officials updated the project’s timeline, routing and planning at a technical briefing Feb. 17, revealing it will have an accelerated completion timeline and an approximately $600 million greater cost than the originally expected $3 billion. (The city says the project, including the Moodie extension, remain within the original budget, but airport and Trim Rd. extensions would be conditional on receiving 100 per cent federal and provincial funding.)

The city estimates the stage 2 project will generate more than 21,000 person years of employment.

Ottawa’s finance and economic development committee approved the stage 2 recommendations report on Feb. 24. The report will go to City Council for consideration on March 8.

Should the report be approved by council, the project would go to market later this winter. A final report will be brought forward in early 2018 outlining the results of the procurement process and related activities, leading to the final design and beginning of construction.

Construction will commence in 2018 and conclude by 2023 in three steps.

The project’s largest portion will be the east-west expansion, worth an estimated $2.5 billion.

O Train planning director Chris Swail explained at the briefing that RTG would have had an unfair advantage if it was allowed to bid on the line running from Trim Rd. in the east to the Moodie Dr. western terminus.

He said no consortium would have wanted to submit a bid if RTG was in the running.

“So, the fear for the city is, we could go to tender for the entire scope and essentially nobody shows up to bid against RTG,” he said. “And that doesn’t leave you with effective pricing because there’s absolutely no competition. RTG would otherwise be able to dictate pricing for the city.”

However, RTG will be allowed to bid on the southern extension, a component worth $535 million, which will include a spur line from South Keys to the airport.

As well, RTG has negotiated a $492 million memorandum of understanding with the city to supply 38 trains for Stage 2 and to expand the Belfast Rd. rail yard.

RTG will also oversee construction for whichever consortium which wins the eastern and western extension, and it will perform maintenance on the entire system for years ahead.

The Phase II project will be extended one direction at a time, starting with the southern expansion from South Keys to Bowesville Rd., with the airport spur. This will require the line to be shut down for 16 months, from the end of Carleton University’s spring classes in 2020 until the fall of 2021.

Then the eastern LRT extension will be built with the Trim Rd. rather than Place d’Orleans terminus, to be completed by 2022, and the Moodie Dr. western extension to be complete in 2023.

The overall project cost will increase to about $3.6 billion from $3 billion.

Swail said more than half of increase is for the extra tracks and stations for Trim Rd., the EY Centre and the airport.  The costs for these extensions are to be covered by the provincial and federal governments.

As well, there will be $200 million spent to widen of Hwy 417 from Maitland Ave. to the split with Hwy 416, a provincially funded road project.

Federal funding hasn’t yet been secured, though Ottawa officials expect clarification in the upcoming federal budget. The Ontario government has agreed to cover half of the costs of the extensions, provided the federal government covers the other half.

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