'We will dig deeper': Questions abound over delay plagued Valley Line LRT and the P3 model
Yet another delay to the opening of the Valley Line Southeast LRT has some questioning the value that public-private partnership (P3) infrastructure projects have, with the city pledging a comprehensive review into the practice.
On Wednesday, the CEO of TransEd announced that cracks on three concrete piers supporting elevated tracks along the new LRT line would delay the opening of the project indefinitely, with another 18 piers that "may require strengthening."
Construction on the project started in 2016, with the route initially scheduled to open in December 2020. A "large concrete mass" was discovered under the Tawatinâ Bridge in 2018 that set construction back for months.
That bridge opened in December 2021, but the Valley Line opening was pushed back to within 2021, then the end of 2021, and summer 2022. In an update in December 2021, TransEd indicated that around 96 per cent of the construction for the 13-kilometre LRT leg was completed.
Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said the latest delays were "frustrating and deeply disappointing."
"We will dig deeper into the root causes, and TransEd needs to be held accountable because that is a basic engineering design that companies have been doing for decades and decades," Sohi said Wednesday. "Obviously, as part of our process to hold TransEd accountable for this project, we will dig deeper into that."
"I hope that TransEd will be able to come back to us quickly on what they are going to do to fix those deficiencies and fix them in a permanent way, that we have a safe system to rely on," Sohi added.
The LRT extension to Mill Woods is a public-private partnership (P3) involving the city and TransEd, with the federal and provincial governments providing funding.
Orders of government and private sector partners work together through the P3 model to build public infrastructure, with taxpayers owning the infrastructure but private companies designing, building, maintaining and operating the project.
According to the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships, the P3 model is a proven alternative to building new infrastructure projects that "can be delivered sooner" and "more cost-effectively" than if orders of government managed the whole contracting and building phases.
Steve Bradshaw, union president representing Edmonton transit workers, said should the project have gone ahead without the use of the P3, the LRT line would be operational.
"Without proper oversight, we get sub-standard work and substandard building materials, and the bills keep adding up," Bradshaw said in a statement. "When will it ever stop?"
"We have been driving across the Low Level Bridge, the High Level Bridge on concrete pillars and they are perfectly safe," he added in an interview with CTV News Edmonton. "What's going on here?"
'TORTURED BUSINESS MODEL'
The city expected to save around $500 million by using the P3 model, Corbould explained Wednesday, adding that the city buys the product but doesn't design or engineer it.
The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 569 president said P3 projects create conditions where competing contractors outbid each other by "low-balling" and offering "false promises."
"It's a tortured business model," Bradshaw said. "There's five or six different corporate entities involved in that."
"(It's) impossible to tell who's responsible for what," he added. "Then riders suffer from the delays and taxpayers end up footing the bill."
In the meantime, Bradshaw hopes the city adds more bus service along the Valley Line route to meet the growing demands of transit users.
"It's desperately needed," he said, "to fill out the system properly."
For the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, the LRT delay was disappointing as more businesses along the route would be further inconvenienced and impacted by construction, and all the detours and traffic disruptions it causes.
"With the rising inflation costs, the impact the construction has had to businesses along the line, and labour shortages that are ongoing, the delay of this project is deeply frustrating to our members and the broader business community," the Chamber said in a statement.
Additionally, the Chamber of Commerce said it wants the city to explore how it can better support businesses impacted by major construction projects that make it more difficult for customers to patronize their establishments.
"While it is comforting to hear that the P3 fixed price model used to build the Valley Line LRT has saved the city from taking direct fiscal impact of this delay, the indirect costs of the delay cannot be as easily quantified."
'A VERY DIFFERENT WORLD'
Bradshaw pointed to the long-standing signaling issues on the LRT expansion to NAIT that ended with the city firing that contractor.
"It took over and over and over again until the city finally said, enough, get them out of here and do it ourselves and get it done right," he said. "Ever since then, we've had it up and running."
"The mayor and city manager were there yesterday saying, well, you know this is a learning experience," he added. "When do we take the learning experience and implement it?"
Andrew Knack, councillor for Ward Nakota Isga, says the city has, learned its lessons and moved to a new project management system for the Valley Line West LRT expansion.
The second stage of the Valley Line will eventually connect Lewis Farms in west Edmonton to the downtown core, and complete the southeast leg to Mill Woods.
Knack says the southeast LRT extension was approved under an old management system that was revamped following the Metro Line expansion and Groat Road Bridge rehabilitation project delays.
"This is a very different world today, and the projects that we are building today are on a very different system than what we used to have years ago," Knack told CTV News Edmonton.
The Valley Line West is a "modified" P3 arrangement, which is "not quite the same system" as what the city has with TransEd, Knack added.
"We do have more control in that project than what we see in the Valley Line Southeast," he said. "The way we've built the contracts has more control for the city and more oversight."
With files from CTV News Edmonton's Diego Romero and Jeremy Thompson
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Rescue crews piloted boats and waded through flooded streets Thursday to save thousands of Floridians trapped after Hurricane Ian destroyed homes and businesses and left millions in the dark. The destruction began to come into focus a day after Ian made landfall in Florida as one of the strongest hurricanes ever to hit the U.S.
Hundreds of royal fans lined up outside Windsor Castle for the chance to pay their final respects to Queen Elizabeth II as the chapel where the late monarch was buried opened to the public Thursday for the first time since her death. The queen's death certificate says the 96-year-old monarch died of old age.
The RCMP says Jeremy MacKenzie's arrest was not influenced by Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre's request to have the Mounties look into comments about his wife.
'80 per cent of immigrants go to Montreal, don't work, don't speak French': CAQ immigration minister
Quebec's immigration and labour minister claims that newcomers to the province "go to Montreal, don't work, and don't speak French," though he later tweeted he expressed "his thoughts badly."
Financial TikTok – or FinTok – has become one of the most popular trends on the platform, and is emerging as a go-to resource for Gen Z and millennial audiences looking to learn how to invest, budget or even spend more wisely.
Russia planned to annex more of Ukraine on Friday in an escalation of the seven-month war that was expected to isolate the Kremlin further, draw it more international punishment and bring Ukraine extra military, political and economic support.
A rift has emerged in the Danish royal family following a decision by Queen Margrethe to strip four of her eight grandchildren of their royal titles in order to "future-proof" the monarchy.
What may be the broadest and longest study to date has found Canada's Arctic Ocean is growing more acidic up to four times faster than any other sea on the planet.
People who feel lonely are twice as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes, according to a new Norwegian study that analyzed data collected from more than 24,000 people over more than 20 years.
An investigation is underway into the suspected Thursday morning homicide of a little girl in a southeast Calgary neighbourhood.
As of Wednesday Calgary had recorded 106 shooting incidents.
Nicky Cotroni-Bruno was scheduled to appear in court on Sept. 26, but failed to appear.
A 26-year-old woman injured in a stabbing rampage on James Smith Cree Nation says she doesn’t know why she was attacked.
A worker's serious injury has resulted in a hefty fine for a Saskatoon company.
Saskatoon Police Service (SPS) has arrested and charged another suspect in the Megan Gallagher homicide case.
Effects of residential schools, truth and reconciliation discussed at Miyo-wîcîwitowin Day in Regina
Thousands of students, local leaders and members of the public are packed into Mosaic Stadium for Miyo-wîcîwitowin Day, an event discussing residential schools and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action.
All Saskatchewan residents 18 years and older who are able to get a COVID-19 booster will be eligible for the Moderna bivalent vaccine as of Thursday, according to a news release from the province.
A 13-year-old boy is facing multiple weapons charges after police allegedly discovered a sawed-off rifle during a search of a Regina apartment.
Some Maritimers who lost power for days after post-tropical storm Fiona are questioning whether power utilities have properly prepared their grids for the powerful storms that are increasingly battering the region.
'This is our top priority': Nova Scotia Power continues efforts to get the province back online following Fiona
As Nova Scotia continues its clean up and restoration efforts after post-tropical storm Fiona left damage throughout the province, the focus remains on clearing trees and debris and getting the province back online.
Nova Scotians in need of financial aid following post-tropical storm Fiona can now apply for assistance from the provincial government.
Ontario’s minimum wage goes up this weekend. Here's what you need to know.
A major investigation into an organized group allegedly involved in a host of criminal enterprises has led to the arrest of 20 people and the seizure of tens of millions of dollars worth of drugs in Ontario, police say.
A group of four relatives who have played the Ontario lottery together for eight years have finally won big.
The family of an Indigenous woman who was mocked by staff as she lay dying in a Quebec hospital in September 2020 filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking nearly $2.7 million in damages.
Despite his widely denounced comments about immigrants, Quebec Immigration Minister Jean Boulet could keep a seat in cabinet if the Coalition Avenir Quebec is re-elected Monday, leader Francois Legault said Thursday.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited Quebec's Iles-de-la-Madeleine today, promising federal support for the archipelago hammered by post-tropical storm Fiona last weekend.
Construction crews working at an apartment building in Vanier have uncovered human remains at the site.
Former Ottawa police chief Vern White is leaving the Senate about a decade after being appointed to the job.
Parking prices in downtown Ottawa are the latest hot topic in the municipal election on Thursday. CTV News Ottawa looks at what the candidates for mayor are saying on the campaign trail.
A 39-year-old Wilmot Township man has been charged with second-degree murder in the death of Viola Erb.
Waterloo Region District School Boardsays they’ve confirmed the data of around 70,000 students was stolen during a cyberattack nearly three months ago.
The Rangers are dropping the puck for a new season on Friday night.
Enbridge gas tells CTV News that its five per cent rate hike on Oct. 1 will cost its customers in northeastern Ontario an extra $160 a year, on average. And people in Timmins are unhappy.
Greater Sudbury Police have gone public with their search for a suspect wanted in a Sept. 17 incident that left a woman with serious injuries.
A group of four relatives who have played the Ontario lottery together for eight years have finally won big.
The family of a three-year-old who was fatally stabbed by her father is asking a Winnipeg judge to apply the longest possible sentence for the man.
Despite a looming economic slowdown or recession, Manitoba’s red ink may be shrinking.
COVID-19 cases in Manitoba saw a drop compared to the previous week according to the latest data from the province.
The price of gas reached an all-time high of 239.9 cents per litre in Metro Vancouver on Thursday, and analysts expect it will climb even higher before the weekend.
From Stanley Park to the B.C. legislature buildings, some of the most eye-catching landmarks in British Columbia have been digitally recreated by Microsoft.
LIVE @ 1
The B.C. government is preparing to announce "health-care improvements" at a news conference Thursday afternoon.
Residents of a village on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island can breathe a sigh of relief now that volunteer fire services have been reinstated in the community. The Village of Zeballos announced its volunteer fire department had been re-activated in a statement Wednesday.
Gas prices at some stations in Greater Victoria hit a stunning 239.9 cents per litre for regular fuel on Thursday, marking a new record-high for the region. The previous record was set on June 6, when gas prices reached 234.9 cents at some stations.
Events are planned across British Columbia to mark the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation on Friday. The Survivor's Flag was raised at the B.C. legislature Wednesday in a ceremony that Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation Minister Murray Rankin called “profound and moving.”