The project to build the Finch West light rail transit line in northwest Toronto passed a major milestone Monday, May 7 when provincial government agencies and a successful proponent signed a contract to proceed with construction of the line this year.

Map of Finch West LRT lineThe 11-kilometre Finch West LRT includes 18 stations. (Metrolinx has not finalized station names.) Image, Metrolinx

In April, Infrastructure Ontario (IO) and Metrolinx had selected a consortium, Mosaic Transit Group, as their preferred proponent for the project. This week, Mosaic reached commercial and financial close to design, build, finance and maintain the 11-kilometre LRT. The $2.5 billion contract includes $1.2 billion of construction costs. The Toronto Transit Commission will operate the line for Metrolinx.

Rendering of Finch West LRT stationRendering of LRT portal into Finch West subway station, image, Metrolinx

The LRT will mostly serve passengers from an exclusive lane in the centre of Finch Avenue West. The line includes a below grade terminal stop at Humber College, 16 stops on the surface of the roadway and an underground interchange station to connect with the University subway line at Finch West Station at Keele Street. The contract also requires Mosaic to build a maintenance and storage facility for the light rail vehicles and other transit "nuts and bolts", such as tracks, signals, communications systems and public infrastructure.

Rendering of Finch West LRT stationRendering of Duncanwoods stop, image, Metrolinx

In a news release, IO and Metrolinx claim that, "Mosaic's proposal offers a quality design that incorporates Metrolinx's Design Excellence principles for fully accessible and customer-focused stops, upgrades to streetscaping, trail and pedestrian connections and bike lanes."

Members of Mosaic Transit Group include:

Metrolinx started early work on the project in 2016—mostly relocating utilities—to prepare for the awarding of this contract. Mosaic and its subcontractors and suppliers intend to start construction this fall. At the peak of construction, Mosaic estimates that about 600 people will work on the project and that 85 per cent of the labour force will come from the Greater Toronto Area.

Rendering of Finch West LRT stationRendering of Humber College stop, where the LRT line will be below grade, image, Metrolinx

Infrastructure Ontario, Metrolinx, and the contractor are delivering the project using IO's alternative financing and procurement model (AFP). According to IO, the "AFP model is an innovative way of financing and procuring large public infrastructure projects". AFP uses private-sector resources and expertise, and transfers project risks to those private-sector teams, which are accountable for delivering the project on time and on budget.

IO and Metrolinx issued a request for qualifications in September 2015. The RFQ closed in December of that year, shortlisting three teams: Mosaic, Humber Valley Transit Partners, and FACT Partners. The two government agencies then invited the consortia to submit formal proposals in February 2016. The RFP closed in December 2017.

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