LRT to be completed by end of March, RTG says

The Confederation LRT Line will be ready to roll by the end of April at the latest, according to new estimates provided by the consortium building the $2.1-billion light-rail system.

City promises to open the line to passengers within a month of getting the keys

A train zooms along the Confederation Line, likely during a test of the system. The consortium building the $2.1-billion line now says it will give the City of Ottawa the line by March 31, 2019. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

The Confederation LRT Line will be handed over to the City of Ottawa by the end of March and should be ready to roll by the end of April, according to new estimates provided by the consortium building the $2.1-billion light-rail system.

Rideau Transit Group (RTG) provided its new completion schedule to the city today, after requesting an extra day to come up with the date.

The consortium now promises to deliver the line to the city on or before March 31, 2019. After it's finished, the city said it would need to get it ready for passengers and that it would be open within a month of getting the keys. 

RTG's announcement comes after two failed attempts to meet earlier deadlines to complete the line, which runs from Blair Station to Tunney's Pasture. 

Firm date means firm penalty

While the new timeline isn't much more specific than earlier reports that it would be finished in the first quarter of 2019, a firm date is still important. It means that if the company fails to finish the work, the City of Ottawa can withhold another $1 million payment from the consortium as a penalty. 

RTG was originally supposed to deliver the LRT system last May, but in February the city announced the date would be pushed back six months to Nov. 2.

When that second deadline was missed, the city withheld the first million dollars as a penalty. 

To avoid that happening again, the consortium must complete all construction, deliver all light rail vehicles, and carry out the prescribed safety and compliance testing by the end of March.

'I've been proven wrong before'

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper said he believes RTG's claim that it will all come together by March 31.

Leiper said the delay in firming up the delivery date for the new system may have been the result of the city and the consortium trying to find an achievable deadline.

He acknowledged, however, that he was optimistic about the last deadline too.

"While I've been proven wrong before, I do believe they are going to meet this date," Leiper said.

The delays have cost taxpayers approximately $25 million so far, which the city hopes to recoup from RTG.