The oft-delayed Eglinton Crosstown LRT project looks like it is headed for a construction slowdown or shutdown due to a legal battle between the consortium building the transit line and Metrolinx.

According to a statement from Metrolinx president and CEO Phil Verster, the consortium, Crosslinx Transit Solutions (CTS), intends to litigate and stop working with the TTC.

Crosslinx Transit Solutions informed Metrolinx late Monday evening that they intend to litigate and stop working with the TTC, who will operate the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. This is another unacceptable delay tactic by CTS at a time when they should be submitting a credible schedule to Metrolinx for completing the project,” said Verster in the statement released May 16. “While Metrolinx is driving and supporting CTS to complete the project, CTS is looking for new ways to make financial claims. CTS’s behaviour continues to be disappointing, especially for our Toronto communities who have been waiting patiently for the completion of this project.

“Metrolinx and the TTC have been working collaboratively for years to get the Eglinton Crosstown LRT ready for customer service, but now require a schedule that describes how they will complete the testing, commissioning, safety and quality rectifications of the rail line.

“Metrolinx will defend this latest legal challenge by CTS as we have done several times before. The cost of CTS’s delays are for CTS to bear. Metrolinx is already withholding significant payments for poor performance. We will continue to hold CTS to account and examine every remedy under the Project Agreement to ensure the project is delivered to a high quality and that it is safe and reliable to open.”

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In a statement sent to ReNew Canada, CTS said it has filed a Notice of Application with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice directed to Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario “due to the failure of Metrolinx to retain an Operator for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT. CTS has been forced to take this step after months of engagement with Metrolinx about the challenges to the Project as a result of Metrolinx having no signed Operating Agreement with the TTC (despite having a decade to do so). With the Notice of Application CTS is seeking to be treated fairly to allow us to work efficiently to complete the Project as quickly as possible.”

The Notice asks the Court to find that Metrolinx has an obligation to enter into a contract (Operating Agreement) with the TTC as the intended Operator of the Eglinton Crosstown LRT and bind the TTC to a contract consistent with CTS’ contract (the Project Agreement).

“At this late stage of the Eglinton Crosstown project, with construction more than 98 per cent complete, and testing, training and commissioning underway, 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,” continued the statement. “Metrolinx has refused to manage or take ownership over these late changes requested by the TTC despite the undeniable continual impact on the Project schedule. This has resulted in delays to the Project outside our control and significant costs overruns which CTS has continued to incur.

“We are disappointed with the characterization of this action as a “delay tactic”, when this action seeks to remove existing barriers to completion so that we can get this project opened to the public as soon as possible. Every single day our team at CTS continues to work diligently, despite the many challenges, to deliver a safe and reliable system to the people of our city.”

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At present, CTS said it has not suspended or stopped any work on the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project.

“However, we have asked the Court to find that CTS is not obligated to continue working on the Project while the issues between Metrolinx and the TTC are resolved. It is not tenable for CTS to continue working towards shifting standards, requirements and goalposts of Project completion.”

Toronto’s Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie also issued a statement, saying the City is disappointed and frustrated by the news of the construction delay.

“We want to see this resolved in a boardroom not a courtroom. People need to come together, solve the problems plaguing this provincial project and get this very important transit line open. I spoke with Minister Mulroney this morning. I know that she is also frustrated but remains very committed to making sure that the line operates in a way that is safe and reliable. I told her that she has my commitment to doing everything that we can at the City of Toronto to help her as needed with this provincial project. I’m hopeful that the Premier will call a roundtable together – call everyone involved into the boardroom and hammer out a solution. I’m happy to be there to represent the City of Toronto. We’re happy to help them in any way that we can to continue to put pressure on to the contractor to get this work done. We all want the Crosstown to open as soon as possible. We want to see transit built in a way that is safe and we’re certainly willing to come to the table to help out in any way that we can.”

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Featured image: (Metrolinx photo)

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