Ottawa’s western LRT extension now 17 months behind schedule

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

The western extension of Ottawa’s LRT system is delayed by 17 months, the city’s finance and economic development committee heard on Tuesday.

“There are still some discussions to be had with the consortium to understand how much that (delay) can be brought back next year and what opportunities exist at the end of the project during the commissioning process  to take some o the lessons learned in the east and apply them to the west to be able to catch up some of that time,” Michael Morgan, director of rail construction said in an update to committee, blaming the delay on labour shortages and a North American-wide shortage of construction materials.

“One of the challenges in the west project is the production levels to build the tunnel — the availability of concrete, the availability of rebar, the availability of waterproofing material — has impacted the project,” he said. “Generally in Ontario right now we’re seeing a lot of projects in delay.”

Labor shortages have impacted work building the stations “because we are building a cut-and-cover through the west, that has a big impact on the timeline for the project,” he said.

The eastern LRT extension is about 36 days behind schedule with construction expected to be completed by January 2025 and the Trillium Line south extension is on schedule with handover to the city expected in August 2023 and service expected to begin next September.

The city is spending $4.6 billion on the second stage of the LRT system which will extend the Confederation Line from Trim Road in the east to Moodie Drive in the west, and the Trillium Line south to Ottawa airport and Limebank Road. It’s the largest infrastructure investment in the city’s history.

The $2.2-billion first stage of the project is currently the subject of a provincial commission into what circumstances led to derailments and other issues that have plagued the train network.

Meanwhile, the city says it’s spent about $4.5 million responding to the inquiry, including $3.5 million in legal fees and nearly $900,000 for “database and file transfer services.”

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