Evergreen Line Cost Overruns & Broadway Subway Censorship – Business As Usual At TransLink

Hats off to Bob Mackin, for his continued journalistic investigation of TransLink and SkyTrain.

The cost overruns on the Evergreen Line were expected as TransLink’s Business Case for ART for the Evergreen Line was as phony asAi?? the proverbial $3.00 bill.

Also, it is no surprise that TransLink is censoring its Broadway subway and Surrey LRT planning because both projects are ill planned and grossly expensive for what thy will do. TransLink will not admit that both projects are vanity projects to suit the political whims of Vision(less) Vancouver and the former and present mayors of Surrey. Both projects will not improve congestion and reduce pollution, in fact the two projects are so badly planned, the opposite will happen.

For TransLink, this is business as usual and senior bureaucrats still wonder why the voter dealt them a terrible loss at last years plebiscite.

When you have idiots running the show, don’t be surprised at the results.

Evergreen Line delay costs lead to mediation, B.C. government hiding info on costs, changes and challenges

SNC-Lavalin and the provincial government are in mediation over cost overruns at…

April 20, 2016
SNC-Lavalin and the provincial government are in mediation over cost overruns at the Evergreen Line rapid transit project, Business in Vancouverhas learned.SNC-Lavalinai??i??s infrastructure and construction division took a nearly $27 million hit in 2015ai??i??s second quarter, and it laid part of the blame on ai???challenging soil conditions.ai??? Tunnel boring was stalled for five months last year, delaying plans to complete the $1.43 billion Millennium Line extension from summer 2016 to fall 2016. Last November, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said it would open in early 2017.ai???SNC-Lavalin does not comment on ongoing mediation or litigation,ai??? said Louis-Antoine Paquin, the companyai??i??s media relations manager, who referred BIVto the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.Amanda Farrell, the governmentai??i??s project manager, did not respond for comment, but an emailed statement from the Ministry claimed the project is on budget and said EGRT Construction, the SNC-led consortium, is responsible for any costs associated with schedule delays.

ai???As with any ongoing contract of this size and complexity, we remain in discussions with the contractor during the project in order to ensure the taxpayersai??i?? interests are represented and the project follows the contract,ai???Ai??according to the statement, which was sent by spokeswoman Trish Rorison.

The B.C. government hired the troubled Montreal engineering and construction firm in 2012 on an $889 million fixed-price contract after SNC-Lavalin accepted the risk of geotechnical conditions in the tunnel. The project geotechnical report in 2011 by Golder Associates said there were variable soil conditions, clays, minerals, boulders and groundwater on the route.

The ministry is also blocking attempts to determine the cost impacts of project delays and scope changes.

It censored all dollar figures from the construction change order log released under Freedom of Information, claiming it feared disclosure would harm government finances and third-party business interests. The more than 75 changes to the project include additions to bus loops, extra costs for public art installations at stations, removal of Compass fare gate barriers at five stations and a dual 700MHz/800MHz radio band to be compatible with E-Comm requirements.

The ministry is also demanding payment of $960 before it will release all monthly project status reports since January 2014.

Meanwhile, TransLink is withholding nearly all content from 683 pages of expert reports it commissioned about the proposed Broadway subway and Surrey light rail projects.

The reports are about the design and business case for the projects, but TransLink claimed the information is subject to change and disclosure could harm commercial negotiations.

Among the seven partially visible pages in a November report by Stantec about the Broadway plan is a description of the work.

ai???(Phase 3A) includes exploration of environmental and First Nation issues, potential issues below grade along Broadway including geotechnical conditions, utilities and a crossing/connection to the Canada Line, issues surrounding transfers to the station locations, operations considerations, station design, accessibility, safety, level of station head-house intrusion at the surface onto the public space and the future extension of rapid trains to UBC. The study includes intermodal transfer challenges at Arbutus and Cambie stations.ai???

Experts have met regularly with TransLink and City of Vancouver staff. Officials from the University of British Columbia, the transport ministry and PartnershipsBC were invited to key meetings.

ai???The level of design of project components varies and is commensurate with the Phase 3A objective to ensure a reasonable level of confidence (+/- 30%) in project cost and revenue estimates and to progress essential business case inputs,ai??? the report said. ai???Subsequent phases of work will further advance this design to inform funding and procurement decisions.ai???

The Broadway proposal was budgeted at $1.98 billion in 2012. In March, Surrey city staff told council that the Surrey project cost had increased by $500 million to $2.6 billion. Steer Davies Gleave and Hatch Mott MacDonald are leading that study.

TransLink CFO Cathy McLay would not provide new cost estimates after the March 30 board meeting, but said officials were wrestling with the rising cost of real estate and the drop in the Canadian dollar. Experts were given another three months, until the end of June, to finish their final reports, she said.

Broadway 3A FOI Release 2016-112 by BobMackin

The FOI release.


2 Responses to “Evergreen Line Cost Overruns & Broadway Subway Censorship – Business As Usual At TransLink”
  1. Haveacow says:

    Ok things are finally making sense to me. I was wondering how the heck Translink was able to keep capital costs the same on the Evergreen Line (Millennium Line Extension) while they kept delaying the completion of the project.

    You see, once a large capital works project like this one has already started then experiences completion delays of a period of up to 1 year or more then, you have to expect cost overruns. The two go hand in hand because of they way most of these projects are funded. A large majority of the money needed for the project is borrowed by the companies involved in the construction of the project. The government or funding agencies then pay back to the builders, contractors, engineers and other consultants as the work for each company is started and or completed (depends on the contract). If a delay occurs because of unexpected problems a project contingency budget or budgets is used until either the problem is solved or the contingency fund or funds run out of money. When a project opening is delayed for whatever reason, the contractors who still have not been paid yet have a choice, borrow more money, keep paying the interest payments on the original loan in some way or announce that the budget has been blown and go to the government for help. IT IS ACTUALLY QUITE RARE FOR COST OVERRUNS TO BE CAUSED BY PURELY CONSTRUCTION RELATED ISSUES. Usually budgets get blown by unforeseen runaway costs of materials (outside of everyone’s control), a poorly designed portion of the project and or unexpected changes to the project, brought forward by the public or governments bodies. They can say that, the delays were caused by complex geotechnical issues all they want, it is probably a poorly functioning tunnel boring machine, that is the actual cause of those delays. To be fair, Tunnel Boring machines are complex machines that are custom built for each project, there is no company that has an assembly line of these vehicles. The rule to go by is this, once a complex infrastructure project has already started, if there is a significant delay in the project’s completion date, for whatever reason, it will eventually cause a cost overrun somewhere. Once that overrun exceeds all the attempts at budget control fixes. Then Presto, you have a cost overrun! Translink is not helping itself by being so secretive about the reasons for the overruns in the first place and the actual dollar amount amount of the overrun.

    Zwei replies: One thing TransLink is desperately trying to keep secret is the close relationship with Bombardier Inc. with the Surrey LRT planning, it seems, though not confirmed, that Bombardier is the preferred supplier of trams and is helping TransLink to plan the damn thing.
    Just a note: I happened to be on the Fraser Hwy last week and what was once rural pastoral land is now high density housing along the route. The question though: “Is there enough ridership to justify the line, as built?”

  2. Haveacow says:

    Considering the other tunneling issues the Evergreen project has had, I would be ready to sue the company that did the geotechnical core sampling for the tunnel and the people who interpreted the results. As for Translink not releasing the information about Surrey’s LRT and the Broadway Line, I for now believe them, however, if they don’t quickly deal with these “in house ” legal issues and commercial negotiations, (probably land purchases and commercial fee problems) my opinion will quickly change.

    As for cost overruns remember, when the expected cost of the Broadway line was announced it was 2010. 6 years of doing almost nothing except planning reports can have an effect on completion costs, mainly just because of natural inflation. More importantly all these cost estimates are officially class D estimates. This means that the totals can increase or decrease by up to 25%. As for the cost of Surrey’s LRT project increasing by $500 million, remember, they are planning to build 27 km of double track surface LRT. The Skytrain equivalent that the fans of Skytrain wanted for this project has most likely increased in cost as well. Keeping in mind that the Skytrain proposal uses significantly less track and a lot of expensive surface segregated BRT (not the B-Line BRT Lite, Express Bus Services that Translink is currently using).

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