Councillors dumbfounded by Metro LRT report outlining major deficiencies

City councillors said Monday they haven't seen or read a two-year-old report that shows serious problems with the Metro LRT line to NAIT.

Flaws include pooling water, loose guard rails, and defective signalling, communication conduits

Coun. Tony Caterina said the city "certainly didn't get what we paid for" in the long-delayed Metro LRT line project. (CBC)

City councillors said Monday they haven't seen or read a two-year-old report that detailed serious problems with the Metro LRT line to NAIT.

The report, leaked to the Edmonton Journal, lists a series of flaws in the construction of the line, including water pooling on the tracks, loose guard rails, and compromised electrical conduits used in the signalling and communication systems. 

"It is a mess, and I think at this point the public has the absolute right to know," said Coun. Tony Caterina. "You'd think you get what you paid for. We certainly didn't get what we paid for."

Coun. Mike Nickel said the report shows the construction project was a boondoggle, a cascade of failures.

Mayor Don Iveson admitted he first heard about the problems outlined in the report on Monday morning.

"We'll be expecting answers from administration right away," he said.

"We're going to need some good answers and measures of accountability for what happened to this project."

The $700-million project is now 15 months behind schedule.

The manager of the Metro LRT line project downplayed the report, saying it was just one of numerous reports completed on such a large project.   

"It's not that we try to hide this," said Brad Smid. "This is how we manage projects. The deficiencies in that report are all things we knew about ... and rectified."

City manager Simon Farbrother would not say whether any councillors called him on Monday to talk about the report. He said all the problems outlined in the report were fixed along the way.

"The things that are identified in the article have been rectified, and they would not have impacted the actual delivery date," Farbrother said.

On any complex project, there will be deficiencies during construction that will have to be fixed, he said.

"That's part of the development process. Obviously, if you've got much, much more significant issues that are going to impact the timing or the price of the construction project, then those do get elevated (to more senior managers)," he said. "But if there's something that's going to be managed within budget and on time, then we expect our staff to manage that. That's what we pay them for."

The only problems that delayed the LRT project were those with the signalling system, he said.

"Clearly for the council, the ideal scenario is this line would have already been up and running and open. We're as frustrated as anybody else."


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