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Builder of Ottawa’s LRT applies for ‘substantial completion’ again

A coupled Ottawa LRT train in the underground Parliament station downtown. .
A coupled Ottawa LRT train in the underground Parliament station downtown. . City of Ottawa

For the second time in about three months, the consortium building the first stage of Ottawa’s Confederation LRT line has applied to move on to a critical 12-day trial run period, according to the City of Ottawa.

The Rideau Transit Group (RTG) filed a notice of “substantial completion” on Monday, according to a memo addressed to Ottawa city council on July 22 and signed by OC Transpo general manager John Manconi.

That notice is RTG’s formal way of saying it believes that construction and testing of the $2.1-billion light-rail system are “effectively complete.”

READ MORE: Builder of Ottawa LRT sets new handover date of August 16

The builder submitted that notice for the first time in May, but both the city and the city’s independent certifier disagreed with RTG’s claim and told the consortium that more work needed to be done on the east-west, 13-stop system.

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All the outstanding “critical” issues — which included a wide variety of “minor” issues with the train cars — have been resolved in the last two months, Manconi told the city’s finance and economic development committee on July 10.

Now that RTG has applied for “substantial completion,” the city will take up to five days to decide whether it agrees with the builder’s assessment of the system. The city will provide its opinion to the independent certifier, who will then take up to another five days to determine “whether RTG has satisfied the conditions of substantial completion.”

If both parties say “yes,” RTG will then be in a position to start a contractually obligated, 12-consecutive-day trial run of the Confederation Line, mimicking the system’s entire service.

WATCH (March 4, 2019): Ottawa city councillors, staff invited to experience LRT simulator
Ottawa city councillors, staff invited to experience LRT simulator
Ottawa city councillors, staff invited to experience LRT simulator

The consortium would also receive a $59 million payment from the City of Ottawa for reaching that milestone in the LRT project agreement.

The city’s final payment to RTG will occur when the builder hands the LRT over to the City of Ottawa. RTG’s latest commitment to OC Transpo is that Ottawa will get the keys to the system on Aug. 16 — more than a year late — which sets up the city to open the Confederation Line to riders in September, according to Mayor Jim Watson.

RTG has so far blown past three formal deadlines: May 24, 2018; Nov. 2, 2018; and March 31, 2019. In March, the consortium then said it would complete the system by the end of June, but that didn’t happen either.

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Once the trial run begins, OC Transpo won’t provide daily updates but will inform council members once RTG has passed the test, either before or on Aug. 16, according to Manconi.

“If something is slipping with the (handover date), we will again update,” Manconi told the mayor and councillors.

READ MORE: Riding the LRT 101: What Ottawans need to know when the Confederation Line launches

After receiving the keys to the system, OC Transpo needs up about four weeks to prepare the line for launch day.

The City of Ottawa will announce a specific launch date four weeks ahead of time, Watson said on July 10.