Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday October 18, 2018
Mayor getting ‘antsy’ about LRT holdup
Council asked the province back in August to let HSR and its Amalgamated Transit Union workers operate and maintain the $1 billion provincially-funded light rail system.
Despite follow-ups with the Ministry of Transportation, Eisenberger says the city still hasn’t received a response or even a sense of when it might arrive.
The mayor says he’s starting to get “antsy” about the holdup and the impact it could have on the project’s timelines.
A contract was expected to be signed with a private sector consortium around June 2018, with major construction getting underway in 2019.
The request for qualifications (RFQ) process to identify prospective bidders was concluded in April. The next stage in selecting a builder is sending out a request for proposals (RFP).
But the RFP can’t go out until the province responds to the city’s request. If the answer is a full or partial yes, that changes the parameters of the already completed RFQ, which probably means starting all over again, adding months to the timeline.
That’s frustrating because, as Eisenberger notes, until the project gets to the RFP process, the community won’t know what LRT operating cost will be.
“I’m anxious to keep the process moving,” says Eisenberger.
The mayor says when he asks the province why it’s taking so long, all he gets is “bureaucratic talk.” He’s being diplomatic. As someone who’s asked the same question, I call it gobbledygook.
Coun. Sam Merulla, who originally predicted the province would respond quickly, shares Eisenberger’s concern that the delay is knocking the legs out from under the timelines.
Like Eisenberger, Merulla doesn’t care that the delay means a contract might not be signed before next year’s provincial and municipal elections. Both figure LRT will be an election issue regardless of how far along the process is. For Merulla this is about the province being upfront with Hamilton and showing “leadership.”
“They need to move on it. If they reject it, we can just move forward. By delaying the answer, they’re only compounding the problem.” (Source: Hamilton Spectator)