Delayed Ottawa LRT will be ready by November: Mayor Watson

LRT
Ottawa light-rail transit, Jan. 2018. By Saboteurest, via Wikimedia Commons.

Ottawa’s light-rail transit line will open by the end of November, almost six months after the original date the city was to take possession of the system, Mayor Jim Watson announced today.

Delays caused by the June 2016 sinkhole on Rideau Street disrupted construction of the east-west Confederation Line, contractor Rideau Transit Group said. RTG told the city last December the project might be ready in time for the agreed-upon May 24 date for the LRT to be handed over to OC Transpo.

The new handover date is Nov. 2, Watson told the finance and economic development committee on Tuesday, adding that taxpayers will not bear the financial burden of the delay.

The city’s contract with RTG allowed for an extension to the handover date. There will be no specific financial penalty for missing the date, though all cost overruns will be at RTG’s expense.

That means not only does the consortium have to bear its own extended costs, but the city will pass on the expenses it will incur for an extra six months of transit detours and maintenance on OC Transpo buses that were meant to be retired.

Transit head John Manconi told the committee RTG also will not receive a “multimillion-dollar” completion payment from the city until the Nov. 2 date, affecting the organization’s cash flow and ability to pay down its debt.

“We will not be rewarding them for being late,” Manconi said.

By the Nov. 2 date, the LRT system must have passed safety inspections and conducted trial runs before the city will take the keys, though Manconi added that “touch-up” work will be permitted after the handover. If these conditions are not met, RTG will pay the city $1 million in “liquidated damages.”

The delayed date will not impact the second stage of the LRT construction – at least as far as city staff knows right now. Work on phase two is slated to begin in the first quarter of next year.