Corp Comm Connects


Scarborough subway puts city at risk of Spadina-like overruns

The TTC has failed to pursue a public-private partnership that would protect the city from cost overruns like those on Spadina, says Josh Matlow.
March 8, 2015
By Tess Kalinowski

The TTC is disputing a claim by councillor Josh Matlow, that it has ignored a council order to “aggressively pursue” a private partnership, called a P3, to build the Scarborough subway.

Without a P3 Toronto will be vulnerable to the same kind of cost overruns it faces on the delayed Spadina subway extension, said Matlow.

He was also critical of the TTC board for approving a contract last month for the Scarborough subway with a company that designed the tunnel in the over-budget Spadina project.

“The Scarborough subway is going to keep sucking money out of every capital priority we’ve got,” said Matlow (Ward 22, St. Paul’s), who has repeatedly tried to persuade council to return to a previously planned, provincially funded seven-stop LRT for Scarborough.

The Star reported on Friday that the six-stop Spadina subway extension from Downsview to the Vaughan Metropolitan Centre is about $400 million over its $2.6 billion budget. Neither the TTC nor the city would confirm that number, pending a March 26 report to the TTC board.

But Mayor John Tory called it the latest in a series of taxpayer-funded “fiascos,” at the city.

Premier Kathleen Wynne also chided the TTC for failing to use a provincial style public-private partnership such as the one Metrolinx is using on the Eglinton-Crosstown LRT.

That’s the kind of arrangement that council ordered staff to pursue in October 2013 for the Scarborough subway, said Matlow. But, he said, it didn’t happen.

“I can’t see any evidence that there was due diligence in that direction.

“The TTC has just assumed management from the beginning,” said Matlow.

In the kind of public-private model used by Queen’s Park through its Infrastructure Ontario agency, “it would be the private sector that would assume the overrun,” said Matlow, adding he doesn’t think that there would be an issue attracting private bids on the Scarborough subway project estimated to cost $3.6 billion.

Councillor and TTC chair Josh Colle called Matlow “incorrect and ill informed” on how P3s work, adding, “That council directive has been and still is being completely followed.”

“Before we can get to a P3, we need 10 to 30 per cent design, which is why we are bringing reports to the board to allow for that, as directed by council. No designs have yet been done,” said an email to the Star on Sunday from TTC spokesman Brad Ross.

The TTC board in February unanimously approved an $80-million contract for project management, station and tunnel design to a consortium called Scarborough Link. It is a joint venture of Parsons Brinckerhoff Halsall Inc. and Hatch Mott MacDonald.

The latter company also worked on the tunnel design, preliminary signal design and power supply and communications systems on the Spadina extension.

Matlow said the contract should never have been approved in February.

“The TTC submitted a report to hire Hatch a month ago, even after Tory says he was briefed on the Spadina overruns. Either Hatch or the TTC or both are responsible,” said Matlow.

Both Colle and Ross, however, defended Hatch Mott MacDonald.

There were no problems with the tunnel, which has been complete for months, outside of some issues involving the route of the subway, particularly around York University, said Colle.

The March report to the TTC board will include a complete history of the Spadina project “from inception to present day,” he said.

The Spadina subway construction has been problematic from the outset with funding delays, engineering issues at York University, the death of a construction worker there that caused the work site to be shut down for about six months and scheduling and legal disputes with contractors on the various stations.

The York University, Pioneer Village and Highway 407 stations have been particularly challenging.

The $166-million Pioneer Village Station contract belongs to Walsh Construction; the York University $118 million contractor is Ellis Don and the Highway 407 station is being built by OHL Construction and OHL Construction Canada and Spanish consortium, Fomento de Construcciones y Contratas Canada. That contract is worth $404 million.