Metrolinx and Infrastructure Ontario (IO) have announced the successful bidder for the Hurontario light rail transit (LRT) project.

The two provincial agencies have awarded the $4.6 billion contract to Mobilinx Hurontario General Partnership (Mobilinx). The winning team is designing, building, financing, operating, and maintaining the new transit project for a 30-year term.

The Hurontario LRT includes 19 stops over 18 kilometres, image, Metrolinx, IO

Mobilinx will immediately start designing the project, expecting to complete the LRT by fall 2024. This timeline extends two years later than the 2022 opening-date Metrolinix had originally projected for the line.

"After more than 10 years of hard work, I’m proud to say with confidence that the Hurontario LRT is moving full steam ahead. Today marks an important milestone, which puts this project on track to completion," said Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie.

Rendering of the LRT stop at Mineola, near the south end of the line, image, Metrolinx, IO

The Mobilinx team includes:

Metrolinx says it selected Mobilinx from "an open, fair and competitive procurement process" that "a third party fairness monitor" has overseen.

Rendering of the LRT stop at Cooksville GO Station, image, Metrolinx, IO

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.

Rendering of the LRT stop at Robert Speck, on the eastern side of the Mississauga City Centre, image, Metrolinx, IO

For the Hurontario LRT, Metrolinx has established the scope and performance requirements for the project and retains ownership of the LRT. But, since the Moblinx team will invest some of its own equity in the project, it will have strong incentive and accountability to make sure it performs its tasks cost-effectively and efficiently.

Earlier plans for the line included a large loop around the Mississauga City Centre area, image, Metrolinx

Mobilinx will be responsible for building:

  • 18 kilometres of new rapid transit between Port Credit GO Station in Mississauga to the Gateway Terminal at Steeles Avenue in Brampton;
  • 19 stops where passengers can connect to GO Transit’s Milton and Lakeshore West rail lines, MiWay, Brampton Transit and the Mississauga Transitway;
  • A maintenance and storage facility for the light rail vehicles south of Highway 407 and west of Kennedy Road.

The LRT will operate along a separate right of way on the north side of Rathburn Road across from the City Centre Terminal, image, Metrolinx, IO.

"We know construction will be challenging, but I look forward to getting shovels in the ground and trains running up and down our City’s busiest corridor soon," Mayor Crombie declared. "The Hurontario LRT will get people moving, break congestion, lower our City’s [greenhouse-gas] emissions, and help us better manage the growth happening in our City. By 2041, we anticipate that nearly 25 per cent of all jobs in our City will be within 1 kilometre of the LRT. It will be a game-changer for Mississauga and I cannot wait to take my first ride on the new line.”

"Better transit helps increase accessibility to services and jobs, reduces traffic conditions and greenhouse gas emissions, and improves the overall health of our community," said Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown. "This is an exciting milestone announcement and we know that the LRT is key in meeting future regional demands. We look forward to more developments, including discussions on a tunneled option for the LRT extension that would lead into downtown Brampton."

According to IO, the project has substantial community and green benefits, including

  • more reliability and comfort for passengers;
  • less traffic congestion, greenhouse gases and fuel consumption;
  • better quality of life for commuters by reducing daily travel times; and
  • fewer buses along Hurontario Street.

The LRT operates along an "elevated guideway" to cross Highway 403. The guideway includes the junction with the Rathburn spur, image, Metrolinx, IO.

It will also benefit residents economically, too, IO says. Designing and building the LRT will revitalize development along Hurontario Street and generate employment opportunities. Moblilinx claims that, at the peak of construction, the project will create about 800 jobs.

The City of Mississauga intends to co-operate fully with Metrolinx and its partners to get the project done as quickly as possible. "City staff have been working closely with Metrolinx, along with the City of Brampton, to prepare for this major construction project," said Janice Baker, City Manager and chief administrative officer. "This is a Metrolinx-led project, and, while the City has no direct contractual relationship with Mobilinx, we have a team of City staff who will support the construction team and provide critical input into the next phase of the project. Of highest priority will be timely communication on potential impacts and disruption during construction, and a smooth transition to an exciting new level of service on one of our busiest transit corridors,"

Rendering of the LRT stop at Britannia in north Mississauga, image, Metrolinx, IO

At least one partner in the consortium, Transdev, expressed its enthusiasm in receiving the contract. "This outcome is a powerful endorsement of Transdev’s global leadership in operating 24 light rail systems in ten countries and comes in addition to the new €330 million Stage 1 Parramatta (Sydney, Australia) light rail contract won by Transdev in January 2019," the company stated in a news release. "Transdev has just commissioned the Line 1 of the Avignon (France) light rail, while the Transdev-operated 'CBD & South East' light rail system in Sydney (Australia) will commence operations before year end 2019."

Utility companies including Rogers, Bell, Enbridge and Alectra have been busy preparing for the project since fall 2017, relocating their infrastructure out of the way of construction. Until recently, Metrolinx intended to include a large two-way loop around the Mississauga City Centre area, with LRT train sets from the south proceeding clockwise around the circle and trains from the north counterclockwise.

Rendering of the LRT stop at County Court in south Brampton, image, Metrolinx, IO

Since the last provincial election, Metrolinx has tried to reduce costs by eliminating the loop. Instead trains will operate on a spur along Rathburn Road West to and from the area of MiWay's City Centre terminal and GO Transit's Square One GO Bus Terminal. Trains operate along a separate right-of-way on the north side of the roadway, while buses continue to operate on the street.

A more recent development in the project is a plan to build an "elevated guideway" -- a separate overpass to carry the LRT trains over Highway 403. The overpass will also contain the junction to the spur track to and from the City Centre.

Metrolinx and IO issued issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) for interested parties to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Hurontario project in October 2016. In June, 2017, they shortlisted three teams using criteria the RFQ identified. The criteria included design, construction, maintenance and operational experience and the financial capacity to deliver a project of this size and scope. August that year saw the two agencies issue a Request for Proposals (RFP) to the three proponent groups, with a deadline to develop detailed proposals by May 2019.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: A previous version of this article stated that the LRT would be operated as a split service north and south of Square One. Having sought further clarification, it seems that it may be operated that way, or may not be, so we have removed the statement.

Related Companies:  City of Mississauga, IBI Group, Metrolinx