Confederation Line east is on track — the west, maybe not

·3 min read
Coun. Allan Hubley, the chair of the transit commission, Mayor Jim Watson and Orléans MP Marie-France Lalonde sign a rail tie to commemmorate progress on the eastern expansion of the Confederation Line. (Francis Ferland/CBC - image credit)
Coun. Allan Hubley, the chair of the transit commission, Mayor Jim Watson and Orléans MP Marie-France Lalonde sign a rail tie to commemmorate progress on the eastern expansion of the Confederation Line. (Francis Ferland/CBC - image credit)

Work to extend the Confederation Line eastward to Orléans is tracking on schedule, but the timeline for the western extension is currently under review.

"We've got some real challenges there," said Chris Loeffler, an executive with East-West Connectors (EWC), of the western portion of the project. "At this time, we're still analyzing the schedule."

Loeffler is a senior vice-president at Kiewit Enterprises, which together with VINCI make up EWC, the builders of the second stage of the Confederation Line. He was on hand Tuesday at a photo-op with officials to mark the progress toward building the 12.5-kilometre eastern extension from Blair station to Trim Road.

EWC is now starting to install the actual railway — there's about two kilometres of twinned track laid between the George Etienne Parkway and Jeanne d'Arc Boulevard — and, despite some pandemic-related hiccups, the constructors still expect the eastern extension to be ready by 2024.

"We're having a hard time getting some of our supplies out of different areas, supply chain problems that we're seeing — we're working through those as they come," said Loeffler. "But all things considered, we look to be on time on the east."

Francis Ferland/CBC
Francis Ferland/CBC

Mayor Jim Watson was joined by local MPs Mona Fortier and Marie-France Lalonde, as well as a handful of councillors in posing for photos and signing one of the concrete rail ties.

"This is a very important day and date for the people of the east end," said Watson, pointing out that residents in the eastern part of the city have traditionally used transit more than in any other area.

"And this is going to give them even better, more reliable, faster transit service."

However, the western extension — which is more complicated than the eastern leg and includes a tunnel in Westboro — may be lagging behind.

"We've got some geotechnical issues, as well as some other supply issues," said Loeffler. "We've got an issue with getting enough manpower. So we're bringing in a lot of of carpenters and labourers from other provinces to help out with that."

WATCH | Skilled workers from other provinces helping fill labour shortages on LRT construction sites

The western extension is scheduled to be completed by 2025, but that timeline is currently under review.

The possible delay was flagged back in December by Ottawa's rail director Michael Morgan, who told councillors at the time that work on the west extension from Tunney's Pasture station to Moodie Drive and Baseline station looked to be 10 months behind schedule "on paper."

That information was overshadowed at the time by the news the completion of north-south Trillium Line extension was formally delayed from fall of 2022 to at least the spring of next year.

None of the EWC companies are working on the Trillium Line. Instead, it's SNC-Lavalin alone that won the $1.67-billion project to extend the Trillium Line to Riverside South.

The city's finance and economic development committee is expecting a full update on Stage 2 rail construction this Friday.

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