Consortium launches legal challenge over delayed Eglinton Crosstown LRT
TORONTO — The construction consortium building a delayed midtown Toronto light rail transit line said Tuesday it is taking the provincial transit agency and Infrastructure Ontario to court over the project.
Crosslinx Transit Solutions said it was launching legal action because, it claimed, there was no signed operating agreement with the Toronto Transit Commission for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT project — an assertion the provincial government said is untrue.
Crosslinx wrote in a statement that the TTC is able to make requests and provide input at a late stage of the project that go beyond the consortium's contractual responsibilities.
"It is not tenable for CTS to continue working towards shifting standards, requirements and goalposts of project completion," it wrote.
Metrolinx, the provincial transit agency, said it was informed Monday night by Crosslinx that the consortium intended to litigate over the Eglinton Crosstown.
Metrolinx CEO Phil Verster called it an "unacceptable delay tactic."
"While Metrolinx is driving and supporting CTS to complete the project, CTS is looking for new ways to make financial claims," Verster wrote in a statement.
He said last month that the project, under construction since 2011, was plagued by 260 quality issues.
There remains no projected opening date.
Transportation Minister Caroline Mulroney said Crosslinx was supposed to provide Metrolinx with a credible schedule to completion this week, but instead told her they were going to court Tuesday to file their legal action.
Crosslinx said it is asking the court to find that Metrolinx has a contractual obligation to enter into an operating agreement with the TTC.
"Metrolinx has refused to manage or take ownership over these late changes requested by the TTC despite the undeniable continual impact on the project schedule," it wrote. "This has resulted in delays to the project outside our control and significant costs overruns, which CTS has continued to incur."
Mulroney said the TTC has been at the table since the beginning.
"The TTC needs a system that's safe for its operators to test and that's what this is about," she said.
Construction on the line is ongoing, but Crosslinx said it is asking the court to find that it isn't obligated to keep working "while the issues between Metrolinx and the TTC are resolved."
A TTC spokesman said its relationship with Metrolinx for the new line will be defined through multiple agreements that cover different parts of operations.
"Discussions to finalize those agreements are ongoing, but there is no question the TTC will be operating the line upon opening," Stuart Green said.
"That decision was made years ago and now it’s just a matter of ironing out final details."
Verster said Crosslinx is responsible for delay costs and Metrolinx is already withholding "significant payments for poor performance."
In late April, Verster said the project's track was outside of specifications and testing and commissioning was behind schedule.
Mulroney said the Eglinton LRT contract, signed more than a decade ago, has "given us pause."
"It was one big contract," she said. "If you look at what we've done on the Ontario Line, we've broken it up into smaller packages that are more manageable in terms of the risk the companies take on."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 16, 2023.
-With files from Allison Jones
Jordan Omstead and Liam Casey, The Canadian Press