December 10, 2018 by David Kennedy
TORONTO—Nearly a quarter-billion dollars in extra funding from Ontario agency Metrolinx kept the largest transit infrastructure project in the country on track when construction began to fall behind schedule last year, according to a report released last week by Ontario Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk.
This August, Metrolinx and Crosslinx Transit Solutions, the consortium responsible for building the Eglinton Crosstown light rail project, reached a deal to maintain the LRT’s original construction timeline, but the public cost of the agreement was not disclosed. That bill to speed up worked and resolve a 15-month dispute between the two parties, reached $237 million, the auditor general’s report has now revealed.
Because the alternative financing and procurement (AFP) model used for the project — a form of P3 — is supposed to shift public risks to the private sector construction team, Lysyk criticized the Ontario transit agency for the added expense. She said the contract did not adequately transfer project risks to the private group of builders made up of ACS-Dragados, Aecon, EllisDon and SNC-Lavalin.
“In an AFP project, a private-sector consortium is paid a premium to bear the risks of project delays and cost overruns. However, under the Eglinton Crosstown LRT AFP contract, the responsibility for these risks was not fully transferred to the AFP consortium,” the report states.
In response, Metrolinx said on future projects it will work with the province “to review specific contractual terms to strengthen the remedies available in the case of delays, claims and disputes.”
The $237 million bill to resolve the construction issues on the new LRT was one of several items for which the auditor general criticized the crown agency in her annual report. Others include light rail vehicle procurement for the same transit line and indecision on other Toronto-area projects that have resulted in millions in sunk costs.
The Eglinton Crosstown is expected to open in September 2021.