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Heading down the track:
"The Scarborough Subway"

Scarborough subway logo.pngThe Scarborough Subway project got a major kick down the track when the Toronto Transit Commission voted to award a contract to Scarborough Link Joint Venture, a consortium of transit and development firms, to manage the project on its behalf during its most recent meeting.

This group would manage the project scope, budget and schedule for all phases of the project, through to the end of the project to extend the TTC’s 2 Bloor - Danforth subway line northeastward to the Scarborough Town Centre area and beyond. This includes, among other things:

  • reviewing the “constructability” of all aspects of the project;
  • assessing risks resulting from various components of the project;
  • buying any property necessary to build the line, stations and other infrastructure supporting the project;
  • co-ordinating road closures during construction;
  • co-ordinating agreements with utilities, if construction on the project impacts the utilities’ rights-of way, meaning power, telephone, gas, water and sewer lines;
  • developing a detailed construction schedule;
  • controlling costs;
  • reporting on the progress of the project,
  • presenting designs for various parts of the project to the public, third parties and approval bodies;
  • providing technical support to other contractors during construction of the project; and
  • testing, commissioning and delivering the completed line to to the TTC and its passengers.

NOW’s Ben Spurr explains in a recent news article that the transit commissioners

“approved the contract despite objections from Councillor Josh Matlow, who wrote a letter urging the TTC to defer the issue, arguing that it was “premature” to hire a company to manage the subway construction when the city has yet to complete an environmental assessment of the extension.

“That study is expected to be completed next year. Matlow warned that it might conclude that Mayor John Tory’s planned SmartTrack line - which would run along the GO rail corridor just west of the Scarborough subway - could undermine ridership projections for the extension and render it redundant.

“TTC CEO Andy Byford… supported awarding of the contract. He told the board that it’s important to assemble a project management team early in order to hit the ground running once the environmental assessment is done.

“‘If you don’t, what you are doing is incurring delay at the start that will almost certainly have a knock-on both financially and in terms of schedule,’ he told the board.

Matlow had previously expressed his concerns about the project during the City Council meeting of February 10, 11 and 12. At that meeting, he asked staff to detail costs resulting from the city deciding to cancel work on a project to replace the TTC’s 3 Scarborough rapid transit line with light rail transit. (That move resulted in Metrolinx billing the city for about $75 million that it had already spent on the LRT project, including work on a facility to store and maintain transit vehicles for the line. During the recent Council meeting, councillors voted to simply receive Matlow’s inquries and not refer them to staff to act. That meant that Council was ignoring Matlow’s request and, basically, re-approving the Scarborough Subway project.

The contract has an “upset limit” of $80 million. That means that total costs of the various services that the joint venture will provide can’t amount to more than $80 million over the ten-year life of the contract. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the price that the TTC pays for these services will necessarily total $80 million.

Spurr writes,

“Byford said that even without final plans for the subway, the project team could get working on tasks like designing the tunnels. He stressed that the contract does not commit the city to paying the full $80 million — that figure is only the maximum the city could be billed. He told reporters the contract included “escape clauses” which could get the city off the hook at minimum cost if plans for Scarborough transit change.”

According to Rahul Gupta,’s transit reporter,

“Even though the city has only just begun work on an Environmental Assessment (EA) planning study to determine the line’s best alignment, TTC CEO Andy Byford insisted it still made sense to get the SLJV contract out of the way now.

“‘The direction from city council is clear and that is the TTC is directed to proceed with construction of the extension and therefore it makes sense to start gearing up for the project,’ said Byford [after the meeting].

“‘You’ve got to start acquiring both specialist resources like building tunnels but also populating management teams for skills we need.’

“With the EA not expected to be completed until 2016 Byford said the contract language accounts for changes to the plan, such as if it shifts east of the Scarborough RT corridor so as not to conflict with the SmartTrack plan, itself under study.

“Appointing a project management team now before planning details are finalized shows the TTC is learning from past mistakes such as work on the delayed Spadina subway extension, [the Toronto Transit Commission’s chair, Councillor Josh] Colle said.

“‘If there’s ever a time where it showed there’s a template not to follow, that made it clear to people,’ said Colle of the Spadina extension work which saw a project team appointed only after the EA was completed.

Under the terms of this contract, Scarborough Link Joint Venture would manage the project with a team of about 30 per cent TTC and 70 per cent consultant staff. This is the secod major contract for the subway plan. The Transit Commission approved a five-year contract in December a five-year contract for designing the tunnels. The TTC plans to award another four contracts for consultant staffing in specific specialty areas, which, in turn, will enable staffing of the project team to proceed.

Now that the TTC has awarded this contract, the number of consulting staff will ramp up as the project progresses. Initially, the project team will start with senior staff to establish project strategies and schedules, and then, as design begins, add more staff to manage developing the design and reviewing the “design deliverables”, and co-ordinate awarding of contracts to construction subcontractors.

The TTC board also asked staff to report back on overall governance structure and project schedule.

The Scarborough Link Joint Venture consists of three companies that have managed many major construction projects and who, the TTC says, “have satisfactorily performed work for the TTC in the past.” Consortium members include:

According to its website, Hatch Mott MacDonald Limited “is an award-winning full-service engineering firm. With headquarters in Iselin, New Jersey, and 76 offices across Canada and the US, HMM serves public and private clients across North America.

“Hatch Mott MacDonald initially focused on the transportation market, providing services in tunnels, rail and transit, rail systems, bridges and highways, and aviation. The company grew rapidly, gaining a reputation as one of North America’s premier tunneling and transit engineering firms.

“HMM has won awards for projects including Calgary West Light Rail Transit, the York Spadina Subway Extension (!), Sea-to-Sky Highway Improvement (Vancouver to Whistler) and the San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge. Current projects include East Side Access (New York City) and the Alaskan Way Tunnel (Seattle).

MMM Group Limited describes itself as “one of the largest building services firms in Canada, a recognized expert in community planning and infrastructure design, a leader in the transportation industry, and a highly respected sustainability consultant. Composed of several legacy companies, [it has] combined strengths to offer better resources and a greater diversity of services to [its] clients.”

The TTC has previously awarded it a contract for managing ongoing construction management services for capital works programs, including technical, analytical, and administrative support to resident superintendents, quality-control audits and constructability reviews.

Its transportation expertise includes projects such as Calgary’s West LRT, the GTA West Transportation Management Study and Metrolinx’ Port Credit Mobility Hub Study.

It’s also been involved in project management of the project to extend the TTC’s 1 Yonge - University line to Vaughan (!).

Parsons Brinckerhoff says it’s “one of the world’s leading engineering professional services consulting firms. [It] provides services to transform the built environment and restore the natural environment, and [its] expertise ranges from environmental remediation to urban planning, from engineering iconic buildings to designing sustainable transport networks, and from developing the energy sources of the future to enabling new ways of extracting essential resources”.

“[Its] experience in rail transit dates to the late 1890s, when the firm’s founder, William Barclay Parsons, charted the course of a rail line in China and designed the original New York City subway. Since that time, Parsons Brinckerhoff has worked on [developing] rail transit systems on six continents, and [contributed] to many of the world’s great rail systems, including San Francisco’s BART, Atlanta’s MARTA, the Caracas Metro, the Cairo Metro, the Singapore mass rapid transit system, the Taiwan Metro and the London Overground.

“[It] has also played a major role in the development of virtually every light rail system in the United States… [and] numerous commuter rail systems, and is a leader in [creating] high-speed rail networks worldwide, including the Taiwan High Speed Rail, the California High-Speed Rail and segments of China’s high-speed rail network.

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