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SNC-Lavalin, East West Connectors announced as City of Ottawa’s top picks for Stage 2 LRT - Ottawa

SNC-Lavalin, East West Connectors announced as City of Ottawa’s top picks for Stage 2 LRT – Ottawa

The City of Ottawa has tapped Montreal-based engineering giant SNC-Lavalin and international construction consortium East West Connectors to design and build the $4.6-billion extensions to Ottawa’s light-rail transit system.

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The second stage of Ottawa’s LRT, the largest infrastructure project in the city’s history, will add 44 kilometres and 24 new stations to the O-Train network and is now projected to be $1 billion more expensive than originally planned and completed in 2025, two years later than initially anticipated.

TransitNext, a wholly owned subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin, is the city’s top choice to construct the Trillium Line’s southern extension to Riverside South, while East West Connectors — comprised of Nebraska-based Kiewit Corp. and France-based Vinci — has been selected to build the new east and west arms of the not-yet-launched Confederation Line.

“Stage 2 will really change the way we move around Ottawa,” Mayor Jim Watson said during a presentation at city hall on Friday, noting the completion of Stage 2 will bring 77 per cent of Ottawa’s residents within five kilometres of light rail.

Will Ottawa get keys to LRT on March 31? With weeks to go, RTG and OC Transpo have conflicting answers

City councillors will consider the new contracts at a special meeting of the committee of the whole on Feb. 27 and council will vote on the contracts on March 6.

Watson has said there will be shovels in the ground for Stage 2 by the end of 2019.

SNC-Lavalin is already involved in Ottawa’s LRT construction as one of three partners that make up the Rideau Transit Group (RTG), the international consortium chosen to build the $2.1-billion, 13-stop Confederation Line, which has yet to be delivered to the city and will likely open about a year behind schedule.


Plans for phase two of LRT construction. First, the Trillium Line will be extended further south, with a spur line to the Ottawa airport. Next, the Confederation Line will be extended east to Trim Road and west to Moodie Drive.

City of Ottawa /

If city council approves the proposed contracts, the Quebec firm will be responsible for adding two stations to the existing north-south Trillium Line and extending the train from Greenboro Station to Limebank Road, with a spur line to the Ottawa International Airport. That southern arm is expected to cost around $660 million and is scheduled to open in 2021.

The Confederation Line will be expanded to Trim Road in the east end and to Moodie Drive in the west, with a spur connecting to Baseline Road (right by Algonquin College) from Lincoln Fields station.

SNC-Lavalin chosen for Trillium extension amidst political controversy

News that SNC-Lavalin has been selected for a second LRT contract comes as the massive engineering firm is embroiled in an explosive political controversy on Parliament Hill.

It’s been alleged senior officials in the Prime Ministers’ Office pressured former federal Attorney General and justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould to intervene in a criminal case in which SNC-Lavalin is facing charges for corruption and fraud, related to its business activities in Libya.

WATCH (Feb. 20, 2019): Wilson-Raybould: I hope I have the opportunity to speak my truth

If convicted on those charges, the construction giant would be banned from bidding on government contracts for a decade.

In a separate fraud and corruption case, three former SNC-Lavalin executives and managers have pleaded guilty to their roles in a bribery scandal around the construction of Montreal’s $1.3-billion mega-hospital project.

Former SNC Lavalin CEO Pierre Duhaime pleads guilty for role in hospital bribery

The city asked SNC-Lavalin, EllisDon and ACS Infrastructure Canada Inc. not to submit bids for the Confederation Line’s two expansions — so their obvious advantage wouldn’t deter competition — but they were permitted to throw in their names for the Trillium Line expansion. (SNC-Lavalin was the only one who did.)

Twice-delayed Confederation Line not yet finished

Originally scheduled to be handed over to the city in late May 2018, RTG has now blown past two deadlines to complete Confederation Line and many don’t believe the consortium will make its third deadline of March 31, 2019.

OC Transpo general manager John Manconi said on Feb. 12 he believes there’s “no probability” the city will get the keys to the train system at the end of next month, based on RTG’s progress. The consortium’s CEO, meanwhile, said he was “confident” the project will be completed and tested by then.

WATCH (May 2, 2018): Sneak peek of the Ottawa LRT

A major holdup is the trains themselves. OC Transpo officials said last week only 14 trains out of the fleet of 34 had been green-lit for use. Until all of them are ready to roll, the consortium can’t begin a mandatory 12-day trial run.

In that trial, the train has to run “perfectly” — as it would when it’s launched and carrying riders — for 12 consecutive days, according to Manconi. If there are any issues, the trial run will restart, he said.

OC Transpo insists 2019 transit budget built to handle uncertainty over LRT handover

RTG will be responsible for maintaining the Confederation Line for 30 years after it’s finished.

Once completed, the entire O-Train system will span almost 64 kilometres and include 41 stations (29 along the Confederation Line and 12 along the Trillium Line).

Last spring, city council approved an environmental assessment for a possible $1.85-billion, Stage 3 LRT expansion that would pass through the western suburb of Kanata. The city is conducting a similar study into extending LRT to Barrhaven, another suburb southwest of downtown Ottawa.

— With files from Amanda Connolly

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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