The Ontario government has finalized a $9.1-billion contract with a private consortium to finish construction of the Eglinton Crosstown light-rail project and maintain it for a generation.
The contract was revealed earlier this year by members of the consortium, but Tuesday's announcement by Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca was the first word on the final cost. According to the government, going with a public-private partnership model helped shave about 18 per cent off an earlier projection of the price tag.
"Because the private sector was able to come in, take a look at this process and provide the most competitive bid possible, we've managed to bring that 30-year contract to design, build, finance and maintain the Crosstown in at $2-billion [less], versus the original internal estimate," Mr. Del Duca told reporters after speaking at a conference hosted by the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships.
The Eglinton Crosstown is one of the few transit success stories in Toronto. It survived the anti-LRT mood of the last city council and is due to enter service in 2021, a year behind schedule.
The tunnelling for the 19-kilometre Crosstown – 10 kilometres of which will be underground – has long been under way. The contract touted Tuesday is for the remainder of the work, including the stations and the finishing work within the tunnels. The contract is with Crosslinx Transit Solutions, a partnership of more than 26 companies that includes such heavyweights as SNC-Lavalin and Bank of Nova Scotia.
Mr. Del Duca, praising the Crosstown in his speech as being "transformational," called it "the largest public transit project in Ontario history." It will eventually stretch from Kennedy Road in the east to Mount Dennis in the west. Another leg, as yet unfunded, would continue west to link the Crosstown with Pearson airport.