Metrolinx confirms delayed Eglinton Crosstown LRT won’t be done by end of 2022

Despite progress on several parts of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project, heavy construction at a key interchange and work on other parts of the line raise questions about if the project will finish by the end of 2022. Nick Westoll reports.

After months of questions surrounding the status and the completion timeline of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, Metrolinx has confirmed the long-delayed project won’t be operational by the end of the year.

In a statement posted on Metrolinx’s website, CEO Phil Verster said it was “expected” that the Eglinton Crosstown would be “fully built, thoroughly tested, and in service this fall in accordance with our project agreement with Crosslinx Transit Solutions.” Crosslinx is the construction consortium charged with building the 25-stop, 19-kilometre light rail line.

“Unfortunately, while progress has been made, Crosslinx Transit Solutions have fallen behind schedule, are unable to finalize construction and testing, and therefore the system will not be operational on this timeline,” the short statement read.

“We know construction has been difficult for commuters, communities, and businesses along the Eglinton corridor.

“We are doing everything to hold Crosslinx Transit Solutions accountable and to redouble efforts to meet their commitments and complete the work quickly so we can welcome riders onto a complete, tested, and fully operational Eglinton Crosstown LRT as soon as possible.”

Verster’s statement doesn’t specify what the new target opening date is or the specific reasons why the project has been delayed again.

CityNews contacted Ontario Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney’s office, Metrolinx and Crosslinx multiple times Friday afternoon to ask for additional information, including when it might open, what assurance the new timeframe will be met and the decisions surrounding the release of the information on Friday. However, as of Saturday morning, there were no responses to those inquiries.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said all those involved in the Eglinton Crosstown need to get on with finding a solution, similar to when the Toronto-York Spadina Subway Extension ran into major delays.

“I’m deeply disappointed. This is just something that has gone on for a long time. I see the stations taking shape, I see the vehicles being tested, but now everybody concerned should be getting together on this provincial project and saying, ‘OK, let’s really get this finished as soon as possible,’” he told CityNews Friday afternoon.

“It should be (done) for the sake of the businesses and the residents and the commuters and the people who use transit. We need to get this done and so I hope they really will make a big effort to have it happen earlier as opposed to later.”

RELATED: Community doubt rising that Eglinton Crosstown LRT will be done by year-end target

In August, CityNews examined questions about the progress of the Eglinton Crosstown amid community doubts. Metrolinx and Crosslinx officials weren’t available for an on-camera interview to discuss the end-of-2022 goal. Instead, a statement was issued and a definitive answer on the end-of-2022 goal wasn’t provided.

“Metrolinx continues to push [Crosslinx] to progress the Eglinton Crosstown LRT as quickly and safely as possible including all station works,” the statement said, noting the whole line will open at once and not in part.

“Metrolinx is working closely with the operator (TTC) and maintainer (Crosslinx) to ensure safe, high quality customer service on Day 1, and every day thereafter. An official opening date will be announced through this process.”

The statement at the time noted all structural work at the three subway interchange stations, including Eglinton, was done and “finishing work” is underway. The statement also said all 76 light rail vehicles are doing full-speed, end-to-end testing with transit control.

CityNews has been monitoring the progress of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project throughout 2022. In the past, Metrolinx officials said the target for completion was the end of December.

“We’re all working towards that deadline of completing the construction, the testing, the commissioning of Eglinton Crosstown by the end of 2022,” vice-president Paul Manhire told CityNews in an interview on Jan. 11.

“We’re still working towards a substantial completion by the end of the year, so that’s our goal,” spokesperson Anne Marie Aikins said on June 17.

The Eglinton Crosstown, which was originally supposed to be open in 2020, has been plagued by various delays, including COVID-19, supply chain issues, labour union strikes. Complex and unforeseen construction-related issues also impacted timelines.

RELATED: Is the Eglinton Crosstown LRT still on track to be finished by the end of 2022?

At the intersection of Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue, both roads meeting at the intersection are still covered in heavy-duty wood planking. There are also two sizeable open pit areas that go down several feet. At the southwest corner, concrete work can be seen approximately two to three storeys below street level. At Bayview Avenue, the southern lanes of Eglinton Avenue East near the intersection are also under heavy construction.

Even though there is still heavy construction to be done, there have been recent milestones suggesting completion is getting closer.

Staff at Metrolinx noted in mid-August Keelesdale station (at the corner of Keele Street and Eglinton Avenue West) became the first one to receive an occupancy permit from the City of Toronto. The move means it passed multiple Ontario Building Code inspections.

Also, lane closures needed for construction near Dufferin Street and Oakwood Avenue — a longtime sore point for businesses — were removed not long ago, allowing for increased traffic flow and parking.

On the way into Scarborough, the above-ground section is mostly done. However, landscaping work still has a way to go. Various trees and grasses have been planted, but CityNews observed a small number of areas where there appeared to be natural elements that withered after being planted. Many boulevards adjacent to sidewalks are still full of weeds.

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