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LRT Running Late

The LRT extension to NAIT is facing continuing delays while contractor Thales Canada and the City of Edmonton grapple with the complexities of upgrading the signalling portion of the project.

The latest setback was announced Dec. 16 after three completion deadlines were missed last year for the much anticipated transportation upgrade.

While the handover from Thales to the City of Edmonton was supposed to take place on Dec. 31, this latest announcement means the line is unlikely to be operating in February.

Tensions rising

Now nearly a year overdue, tensions and anger continue to rise.

“It’s ridiculous how long this is tak-ing,” says first-year Radio and Television program student Courtney Bell.

“I tried really hard to be patient at first but now I’m just frustrated. With days where I have to be at school for 7 a.m., the LRT would cut my travelling time almost in half. But right now my options are get-ting up at the crack of dawn or driving to school, which isn’t any better because it’s $9 for parking and the parkade always seems to be full,” she said.

“The city just keeps pushing back the opening date and nothing really is being done from what we can see.”

‘Working to fix it’

Graeme McElheran, Communications Manager for Transportation Services at City of Edmonton, said in an interview on Wednesday that the city and Thales Canada are working together to see this project through in a safe and timely fashion.

“Everybody involved is a professional, we understand we have a problem and we are working to fix it,” McElheran said.

So just what is the problem and why did neither the signal contractor nor the City of Edmonton foresee these problems?

McElheran explains that the current technology of the Capital Line is from the 1970s.

“The integration of the communication based control system is different from the fixed block system that the Capital line runs on … this integration is proving more complicated than either party anticipated.”

McElheran acknowledged the span of time that has elapsed since this project began.

“It has been something that has been going on for many years … obviously the signalization (testing) required that infra-structure be in place.”

When asked if the City of Edmonton did their own due diligence in preparation for this project, McElheran said: “Due diligence operates on a project management spectrum. It’s one of those things where one can always improve their own processes.”

He also was quick to add that the city auditor will look into the project when it is completed.

McElheran does not anticipate these types of delays to be replicated in upcoming LRT projects, explaining that the new communications system will be in place.

“This is not something that we’ll have to do again in the future. The work will already be done. So this is a unique one-off situation.”

The City of Edmonton is currently withholding payments to Thales Canada until Thales hits specific milestones.

“Thales has committed to providing a test schedule for their remaining work by the of January, he said.

“That schedule will indicate when we can expect to be given control of the LRT line.”

“We greatly appreciate the patience of everyone who is waiting keenly to use this next part of the LRT system,” he said.

“A lot of people are working a lot of hours and have this as their top priority to have this situation resolved as soon as possible.”

GABRIELLE HAY-BYERS
Editor-In-Chief
@Gee_H_Bee

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