Thursday, August 08, 2013

Metrolinx halts Scarborough LRT work

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The Big Move, an ambitious 25-year plan to enhance transportation in the Toronto region, is down a light-rail project following Metrolinx's announcement that progress on the Scarborough LRT project is suspended.

In July, the Toronto City Council voted to extend the Bloor-Danforth subway into Scarborough rather than pursue the light-rail option. The light-rail project was part of a master agreement between Metrolinx, the Toronto City Council and Toronto Transit Commission (TTC).

Bruce McCuaig, Metrolinx president and chief executive officer, sent a letter dated Aug. 2 to Joe Pennachetti, city manager of Toronto, stating, "We will not expend any more funds on the project because it no longer enjoys the essential support of our partner, City Council. It would be imprudent for us to spend more on a project Council has by majority vote repudiated, as further expenditures would increase the sunk costs already incurred."

The sunk costs are estimated to be CA$85 million (US$82.05 million) and are the responsibility of the city to cover. According to the letter, the sunk costs include payments Metrolinx made to TTC for project management, as well as costs associated with a signed contract with Bombardier for light-rail vehicles.

Metrolinx will continue to advance the Eglinton Crosstown, which it calls the cornerstone of Toronto's LRT projects. The removal of the Scarborough LRT from joint procurement will allow the Crosstown to proceed unhindered.

While the Scarborough LRT project is on hold, it is not completely dead with McCuaig saying in his letter, "The Scarborough LRT remains an approved part of the Master Agreement among Metrolinx, City Council and the TTC...In the event the City suspends pursuit of the subway extension, Metrolinx is prepared to return to implementing the current project."

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