Eglinton LRT still has no ‘credible’ opening date as builders prepare to sue Metrolinx

Click to play video: 'Consortium behind Eglinton Crosstown to sue Metrolinx'
Consortium behind Eglinton Crosstown to sue Metrolinx
WATCH ABOVE: Crosslinx Transit Systems, the consortium behind the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, is set to take Metrolinx to court over longstanding delays and finger pointing around the project. Global News’ Queen’s Park Bureau chief Colin D’mello report. – May 16, 2023

The consortium behind the Eglinton Crosstown LRT has signaled that it intends to take Metrolinx to court and stop working with the TTC, as frustrations grow over a transit line that’s overdue and overbudget.

Metrolinx CEO Phil Verser told Global News the provincial transit agency was notified of litigation on Monday evening, weeks after transportation officials pressed Crosslinx Transit Solutions (CTS) for a credible timeline to finalize the 19-kilometre light rail line.

In order to hold CTS accountable, Verster said Metrolinx is “with holding substantial amounts of money” to ensure the consortium upholds its end of the deal and dismissed the latest legal challenge as a “disappointing” financial claim.

“This is all about money,” Verster told Global News. “We’ll contest these claims.”

CTS said it had launched its legal challenge after “months of engagement” with Metrolinx about “challenges” the consortium said it faced.

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The consortium said it needed Metrolinx to finalize a contract for the Toronto Transit Commission to run the line once it was finished.

In a statement, the group complained that “the TTC is able to make requests and provide input at any time, including at a late stage, that go beyond CTS’s contractual responsibilities,” despite not yet having a formal role in the project.

The lawsuit, Verster said, was unexpected because the transit agency was awaiting a new project completion timeline that was due to arrive on Thursday.

Instead CTS, according to Metrolinx, has indicated that it wants to “stop working with the TTC” which would ultimately operate the transit line — leading to a further delay of the project.

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“They’re asserting that arrangements between Metrolinx and the TTC is such that it might have affected the completion of the project,” Verster told Global News.

In its statement, CTS said it had not “suspended or stopped any work” on the Eglinton LRT.

In a statement of its own, the TTC said the issue is between CTS and Metrolinx and not the TTC and that the city-owned transit commission hasn’t been notified of legal action.

“The TTC continues to work with Metrolinx and CTS to start operating line 5, Eglinton Crosstown as soon as possible,” TTC officials said in a statement. “We are ready to begin operator training as soon as construction is completed to a level that safely allows us to do so.”

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Metrolinx said the transit line is currently riddled with up to 260 quality issues — major and minor — that need to be repaired at CTS’s expense before the line can be safely opened.

While CTS gave Metrolinx a completion date of 2023, Verster said the timeline was “not credible” and none of the parties involved has been able to provide taxpayers or transit riders a realistic opening date.

“It is not tenable for CTS to continue working towards shifting standards, requirements and goalposts of Project completion,” CTS complained in its statement.

Toronto Deputy Mayor Jennifer Mckelvie called on Premier Doug Ford to convene a roundtable with Metrolinx, CTS, the province and the city to discuss ways to expedite construction and said residents are “stuck in the middle.”

“I continue to express out disappointment and our frustration about this situation,” Mckelvie told reporters. “I think what we would all like to see that this isn’t resolved in a courtroom but rather in a board room.”

At Queen’s Park, Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney said the province is bound by the contract that the former Liberal government signed with CTS and expects the consortium to deliver the project.

“Ontarians paid billions of dollars for a transit system and we expect to get a transit system that works well and is safe,” Mulroney said.

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Despite the delays, Mulroney said the province is “close to the end” and said once the kinks have been worked out TTC operators can begin training on the system.

Click to play video: 'Controversy surrounding Eglinton Crosstown LRT'
Controversy surrounding Eglinton Crosstown LRT

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