Ottawa

Confederation Line east is on track — the west, maybe not

Work to extend the Confederation Line eastward to Orléans is tracking on schedule, but the timeline for the western extension in currently under review.

Consortium building east-west LRT extension reviewing 2025 opening of western link

From left, Coun. Allan Hubley, the chair of the transit commission, Mayor Jim Watson and Orléans MP Marie-France Lalonde sign a rail tie to commemorate progress on the eastern extension of the Confederation Line April 26, 2022. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Work to extend the Confederation Line eastward to Orléans is on schedule, but the timeline for the western extension is currently under review.

"We've got some real challenges there," said Chris Loeffler, an executive with East-West Connectors (EWC), of the western portion of the project. "At this time, we're still analyzing the schedule."

That western extension — which is more complicated than the eastern leg and includes a tunnel in Westboro — may be lagging behind its 2025 targeted opening date.

"We've got some geotechnical issues, as well as some other supply issues," said Loeffler.

"We've got an issue with getting enough manpower. So we're bringing in a lot of of carpenters and labourers from other provinces to help out with that."

WATCH | Skilled workers from other provinces helping fill shortages:

Skilled workers from other provinces helping fill labour shortages on LRT construction sites

5 months ago
Duration 0:46
Chris Loeffler, an executive of one of the companies in the group East-West Connectors, says supply chain problems and labour shortages have created “real challenges” with the construction of the western end of LRT Stage 2.

Loeffler is a senior vice-president at Kiewit Corporation, which together with VINCI make up EWC, the builders of Stage 2 of the Confederation Line east to Trim Road and westward to branches ending at Algonquin College and Moodie Drive.

He was on hand Tuesday at a photo op with officials such as Mayor Jim Watson and local MPs to mark the progress toward building the 12.5-kilometre eastern extension from Blair station.

To the east, EWC is now starting to install the actual railway — there's about two kilometres of twinned track laid between the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway and Jeanne d'Arc Boulevard — and, despite some pandemic-related hiccups, the constructors still expect the eastern extension to be ready by 2024.

"We're having a hard time getting some of our supplies out of different areas, supply chain problems that we're seeing — we're working through those as they come," said Loeffler. "But all things considered, we look to be on time on the east."

"This is a very important day and date for the people of the east end," said Watson, pointing out that residents in the eastern part of the city have traditionally used transit more than in any other area.

"And this is going to give them even better, more reliable, faster transit service."

About two kilometres of twinned track for the eastern extension of the Confederation Line has been installed between the Sir George-Étienne Cartier Parkway and Jeanne d'Arc Boulveard. All the rail is scheduled to be installed by the end of the year. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

The possible western delay was flagged back in December by Ottawa's rail director Michael Morgan, who told councillors at the time that work looked to be 10 months behind schedule "on paper."

That information was overshadowed at the time by the news the completion of the north-south Trillium Line extension was formally delayed from fall of 2022 to at least the spring of 2023.

None of the EWC companies are working on the Trillium Line. Instead, it's SNC-Lavalin alone that won the $1.67-billion project to extend the Trillium Line to Riverside South and the international airport.

The city's finance and economic development committee is expecting a full update on Stage 2 rail construction this Friday.

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