The City of Ottawa says it’s taking steps to make sure pressures from the COVID-19 pandemic and other construction delays don’t set back the delivery of Stage 2 of light-rail transit in the nation’s capital.
A memo sent to city councillors from Ottawa director of rail construction Michael Morgan on Friday afternoon said city staff are taking “proactive steps” to ensure the east-west extension to Ottawa LRT doesn’t face any schedule impacts like the ones already flagged by the team building the Trillium Line expansion to the south.
These steps are mainly in the form of construction schedule shifts and traffic detours.
In a statement to Global News on Monday, Morgan said the Woodroffe Avenue and Richmond Road intersection will be closed for a period of two weeks starting in late May to allow the contractor to accelerate work on the Parkway Tunnel across Woodroffe.
The city is also looking at detouring westbound traffic on Richmond Road onto Ambleside Drive later this year to expedite construction of the tunnel under Richmond, though these plans haven’t been given final approval yet, Morgan added. Doing so will “significantly improve” construction access to the area and shorten the amount of time needed to build the tunnel here, he said.
On the east side of Ottawa, Morgan said the city is providing “flexibility” on the timing of lane closures on Montreal Road, a location he noted is on the project’s “critical path.”
These closures began in early April and are expected to last to mid-July, according to construction updates on the city’s LRT website, as part of construction of a new bridge within the median of the Highway 174 interchange.
“In addition to adding float to the schedule, these adjustments reduce the duration of construction in these specific neighbourhoods,” Morgan wrote in the memo.
The team building the Trillium Line extension, a subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin, flagged to the city earlier this year that there could be delays in handing over the line of up to 40 days, though reports from CBC put this figure at 116 days.
The city said it would work with the contractor to see if impacts could be mitigated or avoided altogether.
Construction on this part of the extension remains on track for the second quarter of 2022, Morgan said in his memo on Friday. This portion of Stage 2 LRT is scheduled for handover to the city in August 2022.
Delivery of the trains for Stage 2 has not been affected by the pandemic at this point, either from Alstom’s manufacturing facility in Brampton or the Stadler site in Switzerland.
Vehicle deliveries have continued unabated from Brampton and the initial shipments of trains from Switzerland are still set to begin later this year as scheduled.
So far, the city has spent $1.46 billion on construction and train purchasing for the $4.66-billion project, Morgan said in his memo.
When complete, Stage 2 of LRT in Ottawa will connect Moodie Drive in the west, Trim Road in the east and down to Limebank Road and the Ottawa International Airport in the south.