Premier Doug Ford says there will be no new provincial funding to extend Ottawa’s light rail transit system to Barrhaven and Kanata until the city of Ottawa and OC Transpo fix the problems with the current O-Train line between Blair and Tunney’s Pasture stations.
Ford made the comments as Ottawa’s LRT system remains shut down for a third full day after a bearing issue was discovered on one train during a 50,000 km inspection on Monday. R1 replacement bus service is running with 36 buses during the morning and afternoon peak periods.
“I’m not happy at all; I’ve never seen more of a mess building a transit system ever,” Ford told Newstalk 580 CFRA’s The Morning Rush with Bill Carroll, adding he’s in “constant communication” with Mayor Mark Sutcliffe.
“What we’re saying is they have to follow the inquiry; there’s 100 recommendations laid out and he’s assured me that they’re following all the recommendations.”
In April, the city said 36 of the 103 recommendations from the public inquiry into Ottawa’s LRT system had been completed or have been “incorporated into ongoing city policies for implementation into future projects.”
This is the third lengthy shutdown of Ottawa’s LRT system this year due to problems with the line. In January, the O-Train was partially shut down after freezing rain caused an ice buildup on the overhead catenary system near Lees Station. In April, the LRT service was disrupted for 33 hours following a freezing rain storm.
Ford says due to the issues with Stage 1 and the delays with the construction of Stage 2, he’s not ready to commit funding to Stage 3.
“There’s not going to be a commitment from the province until we straighten out Stage 1 and get on time with Stage 2, then we’ll commit to Stage 3,” Ford said Thursday morning.
“What bothers me most is the inconvenience this is causing the people of Ottawa and we’ll be there to support the new mayor any way we can.”
Stage 3 of Ottawa’s LRT project would extend light rail to Barrhaven and Kanata. The Barrhaven leg of LRT from Baseline Station to Barrhaven Town Centre has an estimated price tag of $3.52 billion, while it will cost $1.8 billion to extend LRT from Moodie Drive to Kanata.
The city of Ottawa has not secured funding from the upper levels of government for Stage 3.
Meantime, there are lengthy construction delays with Stage 2 to extend the Confederation Line to Trim Road and Moodie Drive, while the new north-south line from Bayview station to Riverside South is more than a year behind schedule. OC Transpo is hoping the Trillium Line will open for passengers in the fall.
Ford says he has asked Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney to oversee work to address the issues with the LRT system.
“They’re moving forward with it; I’m not comfortable but we’re going to make sure we’re going to stay on this,” Ford said.
“I have asked our Minister of Transportation to oversee this – not, literally, the operations or the build, but to work with the city and help any way we can.
“It’s a mess and we’re going to be there to make sure that people are held accountable and there’s accountability to the folks that are building the Stage 2.”
As of Thursday morning, OC Transpo has not said when O-Train service may resume.
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