August 21, 2018 7:28 pm
Updated: August 21, 2018 8:22 pm

Edmonton’s west LRT won’t be built or financed the same way as southeast Valley Line: Mayor

WATCH: The LRT expansion to Mill Woods costs about $1.8 million and now signs are emerging that the contractor who's building the line could be facing some issues. Vinesh Pratap explains.

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Even though the ribbon of track will run from Mill Woods to Lewis Estates one day, how the west leg of the Valley Line LRT is built and paid for won’t be the P3 model that TransEd is managing from Mill Woods to downtown.

At first, Mayor Don Iveson told reporters during a break in Tuesday’s council meeting that the west won’t be as complex as what’s going on downtown. Then he blurted out: “It’s not a P3.”

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“I shouldn’t have said that.”

But with the toothpaste out of the tube, Iveson went on to try to explain the two projects will be similar but different.

“It likely will have contract complexities. But it’s not likely the entire thing will be yet another full P3 the way Phase 1 was.”

Mill Woods to downtown is 13 kilometres of track that was awarded to TransEd, a consortium of companies including Bombardier and Ellis Don, back in the days when the Harper government had set up a P3 office. The $1.8-billion project is due to open in 2020.

READ MORE: Mystery emerges, leading to delay in Valley Line LRT construction

The only question is if TransEd can get back on schedule, after they first reported in June during a quarterly update that bridge construction ran into some difficulty because concrete buried in the river bed — and roughly the size of a car — caused a delay. At the time, TransEd said they’d rearrange the schedule to do other work so they’d get back on track in time for the 2020 completion date.

When asked by Global News about the schedule of the line on Aug. 9, TransEd CEO Allan Neill offered this:

“I’m not prepared to talk to schedule today because with anything, you have to update it from time to time. There’s a big update coming at the end of this month and I certainly want the city to see all that first.”

Iveson said Tuesday that if anything changes, TransEd is “obliged to tell us and that will be public in due course, if something arises.”

“What Edmontonians should know is we protected their interests,” Iveson said about the financial late fee built into the contract. “If there are delays that are the contractor’s responsibility, it would be a $3.1-million a month exposure for the contractor.”

The city has confirmed a revised schedule is anticipated.

TransEd did not respond to a request for an interview.

READ MORE: 1st piece of rail installed along Edmonton’s Valley Line LRT in Mill Woods

Discussions internally with the city are underway for how to manage the 14 km extension from Lewis Estates. Deputy city manager Adam Laughlin said they’ve been evaluating how to proceed for eight months. TransEd could very well be part of the picture to carry on what they’ve been doing.

“I think it’s too early to identify definitively that it’s a P3 or not a P3, or it’s an extension to TransEd or not an extension to TransEd, because that’s the body of work that we’re going through right now,” Laughlin said.

READ MORE: City chooses TransEd Partners to work on Valley LRT project

He added that there is value to having TransEd carry on the work. The city may even have the west leg built bit by bit, once the go-ahead is approved by city council.

“Could you actually sequence this in the way you open stations progressively?” Laughlin said is an option under consideration.

He said once city staff land on a project model, they’ll have to take it to city council for approval, then to the other funders for the approximate $1.8-billion project, the provincial and federal governments.

With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News. 

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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