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Toronto Faulty streetcar track installation latest problem associated with Leslie Barns

A welder uses a propane torch to cut through streetcar tracks in this file photo. Leslie Street will be closed an extra month after the contractor laid a stretch of streetcar tracks nearly nine centimetres too high, the latest problem associated with the much-delayed storage facility known as the Leslie Barns.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Leslie Street will be closed an extra month after the contractor laid a stretch of streetcar tracks nearly nine centimetres too high, the latest problem associated with the much-delayed storage facility known as the Leslie Barns.

The Toronto Transit Commission said Wednesday that Leslie between Queen and Eastern, which had been finally due to be accessible to commuters in about three weeks, is instead targeted to be open again by mid-July.

"This is something that we could not avoid‎," said TTC spokeswoman Susan Sperling, who added that the contractor had accepted responsibility and was fixing the problem at its expense. "We certainly had no part in it and it is disappointing, for sure. I get the [public] frustration."

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She said that 60 metres of rails had to be removed and the track-bed rebuilt slightly lower before they could be re-installed.

"I'm just fed up," said Janet MacDonald, who lives in a condo property that stretches most of the way from Queen to Eastern, on Leslie. "My level of frustration has just gone higher and higher."

Ms. MacDonald, one of the condo reps who meets regularly with the transit agency on the project, said they were told by the TTC that a worker made the mistake of measuring at the ends of the stretch of track in question, instead of at short intervals along the way. The result was a track that didn't take into account how the road undulated.

Ms. Sperling could not confirm how the mistake was made.

"The contractor made an error [and] the tracks were too high by about 3 1/2inches," she said. "It is being fixed and it will cost about four to five weeks."

The TTC spokeswoman said the delay shouldn't have an impact on the overall schedule for the project, which is now due to open this summer. At one time, the Leslie Barns had been expected to open in mid-2014, in time to house the new streetcars, which have themselves been delayed.

The mislaid track can't be left where it is because the higher roadway would interfere with access to the condo property where Ms. MacDonald lives.

Many of the problems associated with the Barns' project have been related to utility issues that turned up when the TTC started delving into the site. According to transit authority and blogger Steve Munro, the improperly installed track is "just the latest chapter" in a litany of delays.

"Why didn't the TTC – who supposedly is doing, you know, site-supervision – notice this?" he asked.

Andy Byford, the CEO of the transit agency, insisted the TTC did not bear responsibility.

"At the end off the day, this is a professional contractor," he said. "We do have quality inspectors who go and inspect the work. But they're not standing there 24-7 watching what the builders do."

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