ION LRT facing unexpected delays

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GrandLinq&rsquo;s ION LRT project has closed busy areas in Kitchener/Waterloo to accelerate construction, but it has been hit with some unexpected delays in the past couple of months. To understand the reasons behind the delays, <em>Imprint</em> spoke to Lauren McGirr from GrandLinq Community Relations, who explained the timeline of events.</p>

March 11, crews working in the Uptown Waterloo site were surprised when they discovered logs road they were working on. “GrandLinq crews performing LRT construction at the King/Willis Way intersection discovered a change in conditions and the presence of wood,” McGirr said.

Construction in the area was immediately halted due to the policies that were in effect regarding conservation of historical artifacts. “On March 18, the lead archaeologist confirmed that the finding was a corduroy road,” McGirr said.

A “corduroy road” is a road constructed by arranging logs perpendicular to its direction in swampy or muddy areas. “The corduroy road in Uptown Waterloo predates the 1800s,” McGirr said.

“On April 19, the lead archaeologist and his team completed their documentation of the corduroy road on King, between William and Erb,” McGirr said. The exact consequences of the delay have still not been calculated, but GrandLinq hopes to have the area re-opened before the holidays as they originally intended to.

During this period of stoppage, construction crews were re-assigned to other sites in Uptown Waterloo so they could accelerate the process. Some closures in the district will re-open earlier than scheduled due to the extra focus they received in the past month.

Before work continues again on the stretch of King Street between William and Erb, documentation of the corduroy road must be submitted and approved by the local ministry. Then, unsuitable soil surrounding the road must be removed before the corduroy road itself can be removed.

“The City of Waterloo’s museum has requested, and will receive, a piece of the corduroy road for its archives. Also, 100 two-foot sections of the corduroy road will be available to the public for free on a first-come, first-service, while supplies last in May,” McGirr said.

During this unexpected delay, the project faced another unfortunate delay that may postpone commencement of the service.

Bombardier, supplier of the LRT project’s trains, faced some issues this Aprl while assembling the train cars at their Thunder Bay plant. The train cars are built in Bombardier’s Mexico plant before being transported to Ontario, and there was an error in the placement of the boltholes for these trains.

Despite the assembly problems, Bombardier considers this a minor issue that should not push back their schedule much.

Kimberly Moser, manager of community relations at the Region of Waterloo’s rapid transit division, explained the extent of the delay: “The delivery of vehicles by Bombardier is currently scheduled to be delayed by two months, to October 2016, for the first vehicle, and by four months, to May 2017, for the 14th and final vehicle from their original delivery schedule. This projected delay can be accommodated within the overall ION project schedule, which includes the anticipated start of revenue service in late 2017.”

Moser does not expect the delay in train assembly to affect the overall cost of the project or the construction at various sites, including the University of Waterloo.

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