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LRT contract shows service was to begin May 7, 2018 – Ottawa

Ottawa’s light rail project is the most expensive infrastructure undertaking in the city’s history.

The $2.1-billion cost alone, borne exclusively by taxpayers, makes the LRT the most consequential project in Ottawa right now.

So there should be virtually no questions about the project that are out of bounds.

But this is what the city’s general manager of transportation services, John Manconi, told reporters when asked what happened to the May 2018 target date.

“I know you’re looking for us to give you all kinds of dates and so forth,” Manconi said. “The fact of the matter is this — the train will go into revenue service when the train is ready to go into revenue service.”

Date was always May 2018, documents show

Neither Manconi nor transit commission chair Stephen Blais would say when this massive project might actually be finished, although the councillor insisted it will “be on schedule for 2018.”

But what schedule is the councillor talking about?

Because here is the actual fact of the matter: the LRT was supposed to operational by May 2018. Many documents reference that date, including older versions of the Confederation Line website.

This archived February 2016 screenshot from the City of Ottawa’s Confederation Line website shows that the plan was initially to have full LRT service launched by the spring of 2018. (

In documents released by the city Thursday afternoon, it’s now clear the intended date for the LRT to be in service was early May 2018.

The contract between the city and Rideau Transit Group, the consortium building light rail, specifies that the “scheduled substantial completion date” is May 7, 2018. The contract also defines “revenue service availability” — that’s contract-talk for when light rail would be usable by the public — as “substantial completion.”

Hence, light rail was to go into revenue service on May 7, 2018.

The train will go into revenue service when the train is ready to go into revenue service.
– John Manconi, general manager of transportation services

Missing that deadline, which now appears to be the case, may cost RTG money.

According to a recent email from the city’s LRT construction director Steve Cripps, the contract offers RTG financial incentives to meet certain milestones such as the substantial completion date.

It’s unclear what the other financial ramifications — if any — of missing that deadline may be.

Above-ground work may also be behind schedule

There’s another, much earlier, deadline that RTG needs to meet: June 1, 2017. In 10 weeks, the “downtown core elements” are supposed to completed — sidewalks and streets are supposed to be paved, hoarding removed and, presumably, deep gaping holes in city streets are supposed to be covered over.

Currently, parts of Queen Street between Bank and O’Connor are torn up, while Rideau Street is still recovering from last June’s sinkhole. What shape will these…

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