05/30/2012 05:27 EDT | Updated 07/30/2012 05:12 EDT

Metrolinx 'committed' to meeting Eglinton LRT deadline

Metrolinx is affirming its commitment to finish building the Eglinton Crosstown LRT by 2020, despite suggestions from the TTC that it is at least 10 years away from completion.

While Metrolinx still has eight years to reach its goal, TTC staff have tabled a report suggesting that the provincial agency has set an “unrealistic” timeline for building the long-awaited, 25-kilometre transit line along Eglinton Avenue.

Details of that report were presented to transit commissioners by Sameh Ghaly, the TTC’s chief capital officer, during a meeting at City Hall on Wednesday afternoon.

The TTC says the stations that are going to be buried underground will take the longest to design and build, a process that typically takes three-to- four years to complete and another one or two to test.

Completing this process by 2020 is “unrealistic” in the opinion of the TTC, which projects 2022-2023 as “a realistic target in-service date” for the Eglinton line.

Furthermore, to meet the 2020 timeline for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT, it will be necessary for the transit stations to be “under design and construction at the same time,” according to the presentation given to the transit commissioners.

And while the TTC is concerned that too much construction at the same time could cause traffic chaos across much of Eglinton Avenue, at least one city councillor says the pain will be worth the gain.

“Do we rip the Band-Aid off, or do we inch it off? And with that you have different levels of disruption,” said Coun. Josh Colle, a TTC transit commissioner whose ward includes much of Eglinton Avenue.

“I would prefer ripping it off.”

After the presentation, Andy Byford, the TTC’s chief executive officer, said that the organization is simply “flagging some concerns,” about the approach that Metrolinx is using and the timetable it has set.

But Byford said the TTC will work with the province and with Metrolinx to improve transit in Toronto.

Despite the concerns that the TTC has brought forward, a Metrolinx executive told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday afternoon that the provincial agency is “committed to” meeting the 2020 deadline for the Eglinton Crosstown LRT.

“We recognize that it’s an aggressive schedule and the TTC has raised some legitimate issues about the schedule,” said Jack Collins, the vice-president of rapid transit implementation.

“But we also feel that the contracting strategy that we’re advancing, which is called an alternative finance and procurement strategy, with Infrastructure Ontario is a proven method of delivering projects quickly and on schedule.”