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Toronto TTC hires firm to manage troubled Spadina subway extension

Work on the Steeles West Station, right, on the Spadina subway extension is photographed on March 6, 2015.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

The Toronto Transit Commission has hired the engineering firm Bechtel to take over project management of the troubled Spadina subway extension in a contract worth up to $80-million.

Since its start, the Spadina project has been plagued with cost overruns and delays. Earlier this month, Toronto City Council approved an additional $150-million in funding over its $2.5-billion budget ($60-million of which will come from York Region), and voted in favour of bypassing the usual tendering process to hire a third-party project manager.

On Monday, the transit agency announced that it has officially signed an agreement with Bechtel Canada Co. and that the company's project director will report directly to TTC chief executive officer Andy Byford.

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The firm was selected based on Bechtel's "proven track record of delivering similar-sized projects on time, and with experience working with multiple contractors, in order to have the TYSSE [Toronto-York Spadina subway extension] in service by Dec. 31, 2017," the TTC statement said.

The U.S.-based Bechtel Corp. has worked on projects including Boston's "Big Dig", the Hoover Dam, the Hong Kong International Airport, and major upgrades in 2010 to London's Underground.

Late last month, the union that represents 10,000 TTC workers – the Amalgamated Transit Union, Local 113 – slammed the commission's decision to sole-source the contract. The deal was "short-circuiting public procurement policies in a misguided attempt to gain a few months on a critical segment of infrastructure that will likely last more than a hundred years," Local 113 president Bob Kinnear said.

The 8.6-kilometre extension of the Spadina subway into Vaughan was originally supposed to be completed by this year. After Mayor John Tory said last month that he was "furious" at the latest overruns, the TTC announced that two senior executives – including the original chief project manager for the Spadina extension – had left the agency.

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