Transportation minister won’t say what new timeline is for delayed Eglinton Crosstown

Melissa Nakhavoly speaks with business owners after Metrolinx announced the Eglinton Crosstown LRT won't be finished by the end of 2022.

Nearly two weeks after Metrolinx quietly announced the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project would be delayed yet again, Ontario’s transportation minister isn’t saying what the new timeline for completion is.

For several days CityNews has sent multiple requests for additional information to Caroline Mulroney’s office along with Metrolinx, the provincial transportation agency overseeing the Eglinton Crosstown project, and Crosslinx, the private-sector consortium responsible for building the line. Details surrounding the revised construction timing and the specific issues that have led to the latest delay haven’t been publicly disclosed.

“Well obviously everyone is disappointed with the delays that are affecting the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project. Our priority is to make sure that it opens safely as soon as possible,” Mulroney said in response to a question by a CityNews journalist.

Mulroney was in Hamilton along with Premier Doug Ford Thursday morning to kick off construction of the future $50-million Confederation GO station on GO Transit’s Lakeshore West line.

After Mulroney provided a brief statement, Ford addressed the question and took issue with the project’s start.

“This is frustrating, I’m frustrated, the minister is frustrated. We inherited this project … from the previous Liberal government that just boondoggled it,” he said while promoting tunnelling progress made under his government’s watch after they moved to extend the yet-to-be-opened Eglinton Crosstown west toward Mississauga.

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

“We’re going to make sure that any issues that the previous government had on Eglinton East — we’ve learned by their mistakes — and make sure it doesn’t happen on Eglinton West.”

Construction on the Eglinton Crosstown began under the Liberal government in 2011 and was supposed to be finished by 2020. Ford and the Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario were elected in 2018, and have governed over Metrolinx since that time.

The project has been plagued by various delays, including COVID-19, supply chain issues and labour union strikes. Complex and unforeseen construction-related issues also impacted timelines. A previous legal settlement between Metrolinx and Crosslinx aimed to have substantial completion by the end of this month.

Informal estimates suggest the LRT line could open by the end of 2023, but Mulroney gave no hints during Thursday’s news conference to suggest the length of time.

At the end of September, the manager of the York-Eglinton BIA called on the Ontario government to launch a public inquiry into the 11-year Eglinton Crosstown LRT project.

“There is little regard for how it impacts local businesses,” Louroz Mercader, the manager for the York-Eglinton BIA, previously said during an interview.

“I mean for any business that operates out there you need time to plan for things, and so we had small businesses planning this would be up and operational by the end of the year and perhaps the beginning of the new year.

“To hear that it may open sometime in the future — they didn’t even give a new date for this — I think is outrageous.”

Mercader said he and other business advocates want the public inquiry to focus on the impact of the 25-stop, 19-kilometre Eglinton Crosstown project has had on communities and small businesses in order to minimize future problems.

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