Commuters hoping to hop on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT next year will have to wait another year.
Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster said that outside of the several challenges they have faced since the start of the project, a defect was found under the TTC station box at Eglinton subway station which needs to be fixed before the project can be completed.
“In May last year, Crosslinx (CTS) declared to us that in the excavations under the TTC box, they found a conduit in the wrong place and as you know we are tunneling underneath the Eglinton and Yonge box and this conduit was in exactly the wrong place and so Crosslinx strategy for excavation had to be adjusted,” he explained.
“These are the types of unforeseen risks that just impact on large, mega-transit projects.”
The Eglinton Crosstown was expected to open in fall of next year but Metrolinx now says it will be “well into 2022,” but Verster said he won’t be giving out an exact time.
“The reason I don’t want to put a date on it now is we’re right in the middle of finalizing the commercial discussions with CTS … I don’t want to send a message to our communities and then have to adjust it again later.”
Verster added that at the time the defect was discovered, the project was already running behind schedule and was about 84 per cent of what it should have been.
At that point, Metrolinx sat down with Crosslinx to work out a “revised and robust schedule,” which is currently in the process of being confirmed.
“We’ve done everything we can to get CTS to deliver the project on time, but if they don’t get their rates of production right they’re going to bear the cost of that and unfortunately our communities here in Toronto will get the fantastic service later than expected,” Verster explained.
“We are still driving really hard to get a good schedule and to complete the project as soon as possible.”
On a positive note, Verster said that despite the delay, the project remains on budget.
“It’s really important to state again clearly that the Eglinton project is within budget and with the current round of discussion with Crosslinx on schedule and the commercial position,” he explained.
“We have full confidence that it’ll stay in budget from where we are now and that’s really important because the risks that we bear as a province will settle those but the production risks are for Crosslinx’s account.”
In a statement to CityNews, Crosslinx said they disagree with Metrolinx’s view on the delays, saying that the Crosstown construction management model was not properly designed to deal with what they called “third party approvals” and “defective infrastructure.”
“Crosslinx disagrees with Metrolinx’s characterization of the Eglinton Crosstown delays as largely the responsibility of Crosslinx,” they said. “Crosslinx is currently engaged in discussions with Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario to resolve these issues and will not provide further details about these delays at this time.”
Once completed, the Eglinton Crosstown will run 19 kilometres and have 25 stations from Mount Dennis in the west to Kennedy in the east. The Science Centre stop will also be the northern end point for the proposed Ontario Line.
Construction on the Eglinton Crosstown started in the summer of 2011 and has been a headache for residents and drivers trying to navigate their way around the area, especially at the high traffic intersection of Yonge and Eglinton.
In the years that followed, there were lane restrictions, pedestrian tunnel closures, crosswalk closures and turn restrictions — the intersection configuration changing with each new phase of construction.
In November, Metrolinx launched a marketing campaign called “Experience Eglinton,” which promoted local businesses in the area.