Metrolinx and Crosslinx Transit Solutions, the consortium constructing the $5.3-billion Eglinton Crosstown LRT in Toronto, are fighting in court over project delays and damages.
Metrolinx, the agency co-ordinating the massive project that is supposed to be completed by September, 2021, has filed a court claim attempting to block a “notice of action” from Crosslinx asserting that the transit agency had breached the project’s contract.
In a 10-page filing to the Ontario Superior Court of Justice in early August, Metrolinx asserts that there is a “detailed dispute resolution procedure” in the Crosstown contract, which makes clear that disagreements between the parties should be settled only after the project’s completion.
The Crosslinx consortium is “contractually required, during the construction period, to attempt to recover schedule and mitigate any delay,” Metrolinx says in its filing, also noting that the agency believes the 2021 deadline can be met, and that it “requires and insists” that Crosslinx complete the LRT by that date.
Superior Court Justice Sean Dunphy has set a hearing on Metrolinx’s notice for Sept. 11. He extended the deadline for Crosslinx to file a detailed statement of claim to Sept. 12, pending the hearing’s outcome.
Crosslinx, a consortium of Aecon, Dragados, EllisDon and SNC-Lavalin, says the group is disappointed that Metrolinx had “taken this unnecessary pre-emptive step.”
“Crosslinx has worked in good faith over the last year to address delay and compensation issues with Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario (IO), and we will continue to work with our partners to reach a resolution that delivers this essential transit project on time,” spokesperson Kristin Jenkins wrote in an email to the Toronto Star. “Crosslinx only initiated legal action after a settlement was not reached, leaving us with no choice but to seek redress through the courts.’
In its notice of action filed in July, Crosslinx asserts Metrolinx has failed to live up to its side of the contract, and Crosslinx had incurred construction problems beyond its “reasonable control.”
The notice of action also named the Ontario Lands Corporation (known as IO) as a defendant.
Crosslinx didn’t outline a detailed claim int its notice, but it asserted that utility company work had exceeded time frames guaranteed with Metrolinx, and there are “issue regarding permits, licenses and approvals” and delays and disruptions affecting the design approval process.
Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster said in an interview with the Star that the relationship between his agency and Crosslinx had not fallen apart, describing it as “very constructive, very collaborative.”
“I want to make this explicit, it’s not broken down,” he told the newspaper. “We continue to work very closely with them on finding a way forward.” Verster said that Metrolinx’s focus is on getting the LRT completed on time, and the agency doesn’t want to be distracted by construction litigation.
“I am confident that (Crosslinx) band Metrolinx can collaborate and get Eglinton LRT lto be completed by 2021.”
Under the public-private- partnership (P3) model, the financial responsivblity for cost overruns and delays are supposed to be shifted to the private sector by locking in a cost and completion date, reducing the the public sector’s risk.
The project was originally supposed to be finished by 2020, but in 2015 the completion was pushed back a year.
The Eglinton Crosstown will run for 19 kilometres between the Kennedy subway station and Mount Dennis.