Construction on the north-south extension to Ottawa’s light-rail transit system is facing unspecified delays tied to the novel coronavirus pandemic, according to senior city staff.
A memo sent from Michael Morgan, director of Ottawa LRT construction, to city councillors on Monday afternoon states that the team building the southern extension to the original Trillium Line has flagged “schedule impacts,” which are now being reviewed by the city’s team.
The Trillium Line extension is being built by TransitNEXT, a subsidiary of SNC Lavalin. The city says it’s been working with the contractors to determine whether the anticipated delays will come to pass and to look for ways to mitigate the impacts.
The handover of the Stage 2 southern extension is still slated for 2022, the memo states, with no further details on how far back any delays would set the project.
The original Trillium Line service has been suspended and replaced with bus service during construction, affecting commuters to the city’s south end and students at Carleton University.
The Stage 2 extension to the south will see eight new stations added to the line, with new connections to Limebank Road and the Ottawa International Airport.
Morgan’s memo points to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated delays affecting construction locally and suppliers abroad as sources of potential hold ups.
The pandemic has not disrupted the construction of additional Alstom trains for the Stage 2 extension at the trainmaker’s Brampton, Ont., facility, the memo says. Shipment and reassembly of these 38 vehicles has continued despite the pandemic and additional trains are expected to make their way to Ottawa for testing in the months ahead.
Seven other trains being manufactured in Switzerland are expected to arrive later this year.
The Confederation Line extensions, being constructed by the consortium East-West Connectors, have also hit potential construction snags but those impacts have already been mitigated, according to the memo.
The east and west extensions are still on track for completion by 2024 and 2025, respectively.
The first stage of Ottawa’s LRT system faced significant construction delays, finally opening to the public in September 2019 — more than a year after it was first slated to come online.
City staff will provide a more detailed update on Ottawa LRT progress at Tuesday morning’s meeting of the Finance and Economic Development Committee.