Metrolinx Agrees to New Date to Complete Crosstown LRT, Credit Rating Agency Says

Metrolinx and the company building the Eglinton Crosstown LRT have reportedly agreed on a new opening date for the delayed transit project, but the organizations say they cannot share it with the public until the deal is officially finalized.

According to a new report from credit rating agency Moody’s, Metrolinx and Crosslinx Transit Solutions reached an agreement that, once formally approved by both parties, would set a new schedule to complete the 19-kilometer LRT and see the province pay more to the company. money to finish the job.

The Nov. 19 report does not specify the new completion date, but says it is “late 2022,” which is in line with earlier statements from Metrolinx, the Ontario Crown corporation that oversees the $ 5.5 light rail project. billion through downtown Toronto.

The Moody’s document also says that Crosslinx, the private consortium put together to finance and build the LRT, has been working on a revised schedule that would have it complete by August 31, 2022.

Neither Metrolinx nor Crosslinx would disclose the new LRT end date included in the deal or discuss other details of the deal.

“Crosslinx will not discuss the deal until it receives final approval,” company spokeswoman Kristin Jenkins said in an email.

Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins said that over the past few months the agency and Infrastructure Ontario have “engaged in collaborative and productive discussions” to reach an agreement with Crosslinx, but “as the agreement has not yet been finalized, no we are in a position to reveal the details. “

He said there has been “tremendous progress at Crosstown and we are working diligently with our contractor to complete it by the end of 2022.”

The LRT has been under construction since 2011 and based on the schedule above, it was supposed to open in September 2021.

According to the Moody’s report, which is an updated credit assessment of Crosslinx, in addition to setting a new date, the settlement “addresses a large number of outstanding claims between the parties.” Under the terms of the agreement, the province would compensate the consortium for any additional costs it has incurred while working on the LRT, “including the costs of sanitary measures and the increase in material prices as a direct result of the pandemic. ongoing coronavirus “.

It is not clear how much Crosslinx will receive, but in October 2020 it said that social distancing requirements, supply chain problems and absenteeism had significantly reduced productivity, and estimated that the first wave of the pandemic had cost it. $ 134 million in higher expenses. The company said that number will only grow as the COVID-19 crisis drags on.

As part of an earlier agreement in 2018, Metrolinx agreed to pay Crosslinx $ 237 million to keep it on track and meet the previous September 2021 deadline. But in February 2020, Metrolinx acknowledged that the line would not open by that date.

In the fall of 2020, Crosslinx took Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario to court, alleging that the agencies were unfairly trying to hold the company accountable for delays caused by COVID-19. In May, the Ontario Superior Court of Justice ruled in Crosslinx’s favor, paving the way for the two parties to reach a new agreement on the project schedule and costs. Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario appealed the decision.

This is the second time in just over a year that the public has obtained meaningful information about the publicly funded LRT from a report by Moody’s rather than Metrolinx or Crosslinx.

As previously reported by the Star, a September 2020 report from the rating firm revealed that Crosslinx had submitted a plan to open the LRT in stages, with no Eglinton station in service on opening day. That proposal does not appear to be part of the new agreement, and according to the credit report, the revised schedule would include the completion of all aspects of the project.

Ben Spurr is a Toronto reporter covering Star transportation. Contact him by email at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter: @BenSpurr

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