Ottawa

Western LRT extension, north-south Trillium line face new delays, says rail director

Ottawa's director of rail construction is projecting a three-month delay for the completion of the city's western light rail extension, while flagging the launch of the expanded north-south Trillium line could now be a full year behind the initial schedule.

Revamped O-Train launch could now be full year behind schedule

Crews work to excavate the Byron Linear Park Corridor for the future western extension of Ottawa's light rail line in this photo shared Friday with city councillors. The builder is now projecting a 101-day delay in the handover date. (City of Ottawa)

Ottawa's director of rail construction is projecting a three-month delay for the completion of the city's western light rail extension, while flagging the launch of the expanded north-south Trillium line could now be a full year behind the initial schedule.

Michael Morgan gave an update Friday to the city's finance and economic development committee on the work being done on all of the city's rail projects.

It came three days after East-West Connectors (EWC), the builders of the Stage 2 east-west extension of the Confederation Line, said the more complex western portion and its tunnel may be running behind its targeted 2025 launch date due to supply chain problems and labour shortages.

Morgan told the committee Friday afternoon EWC's reports now project a 101-day delay in the handover of the extension.

"In the market right now, there's a lot of pressure on the supply of rebar, a lot of pressure on the supply of concrete. And you need a lot of both of those things for the tunnel construction," Morgan said.

EWC is reviewing their projections, he added, with the next update scheduled to come in July.

PHOTOS | A bird's-eye view of the work on the Confederation and Trillium lines:

Likely no O-Train until August 2023

City council had already heard that the north-south Trillium Line rail extension wouldn't be finished until May 2023 at the earliest, nine months later than the initial August 2022 deadline stated in that contract.

The $1.6-billion project is being built by contractor Transit NEXT, a wholly owned subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin.

An August 2023 completion date is now more likely, Morgan said, although the city was "working with them to see what they can do to bring that back."

If SNC-Lavalin finished the majority of construction this year, as is their objective, that would allow the city to focus on testing the line in 2023, Morgan said. 

"Depending on the performance of the system and the reliability of the system, we'll be able to at that point assess what's a realistic opening date," he said.

A pedestrian wearing a mask walks past a Gladstone Avenue sign advertising work on the southern extension of the Trillium O-Train line last fall. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

Councillors flag noise concerns

Several councillors put questions to Morgan about the new timelines, including Bay ward Coun. Theresa Kavanagh, whose ward will have seven stations once the western extension opens.

"It's a concern in terms of [whether there] will be rushing — because one of the issues we've had, in terms of the residents, is overnight work and those pushes to make up time," she said.

"This is in people's backyards, and this is very, very noisy and very close to them."

Kitchissippi Coun. Jeff Leiper also expressed worry about the impact of western LRT construction noise on residents, saying he wouldn't be "predisposed to providing noise exemptions."

"Let's hope they're able to make up some time," he said.

Morgan did not flag any delays Friday with the work to extend the Confederation Line eastward to Orléans. EWC has said they expect that extension to be ready by 2024.

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