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Ottawa to get new LRT handover date on Thursday after RTG gets extension

The consortium building Ottawa's $2.1-billion Confederation LRT line says it's "confident" it will make its March 31, 2019 deadline to hand over the system to the City of Ottawa. But the head of OC Transpo says he's "highly skeptical" that will happen.
The consortium building Ottawa's $2.1-billion Confederation LRT line says it's "confident" it will make its March 31, 2019 deadline to hand over the system to the City of Ottawa. But the head of OC Transpo says he's "highly skeptical" that will happen. City of Ottawa

UPDATE: The city announced Thursday evening that the Rideau Transit Group said it will hand over the keys to the LRT on or before March 31, 2019. Read more here.

The consortium building Ottawa’s Confederation Line is expected to give the city a new date on Thursday for when it will hand over the delayed light rail transit (LRT) line, after requesting an extension to come up with the new completion date.

The Rideau Transit Group (RTG) was supposed to provide the City of Ottawa with a new handover date for the $2.1-billion LRT line on Wednesday, Jan. 2, after blowing past two deadlines in 2018.

READ MORE: No new deadline for Ottawa’s LRT in latest update from city

In a statement attributed to Michael Morgan, the city’s rail construction program director, the city said it granted the consortium a one-day extension.

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“City staff will review the new date and respond to RTG. Staff will provide an update to Council following the review of the new RSA date,” the statement said.

Mayor Jim Watson said in November that he felt “great confidence” the Confederation Line would be in “full service” by Mar. 31, 2019.

Once RTG hands the city the keys to the rail line, OC Transpo will need seven to 10 days to get the east-west Confederation train “into launch mode,” Transportation Manager John Manconi said on Nov. 14.

READ MORE: Launch of Ottawa’s LRT delayed until 2019

The original target date for the LRT’s completion was May 24, 2018. The city allowed the consortium to push that deadline to Nov. 2 without penalty.

Then, late last summer, RTG advised the city it wouldn’t make the November deadline, either. The city has penalized the consortium $1 million for the delay and said it would fine RTG another $1 million should it miss a third deadline.

In September, Watson said the city is prioritizing the safety of the 13-stop LRT system over meeting “a predetermined date in the calendar.”

WATCH: Sneak peek of the Ottawa LRT
Sneak peek of the Ottawa LRT
Sneak peek of the Ottawa LRT

The city is expected to report its recommendations for the winning bidders for Stage 2 of LRT — which will involve extensions to both the Confederation and Trillium lines — early this year.

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In a year-end interview with Global News, Watson said in December the city hopes to have shovels in the ground for Stage 2 by the end of 2019.