Back to market: Edmonton forced to re-tender light rail scheme after bidders pull out

Work on a C$2.6bn rail transit line in the Canadian city of Edmonton will be delayed by at least a year after the city was forced to restart procurement when two shortlisted bidders pulled out.

The city will now procure light rail vehicles separately, and pursue a design-build-finance model.

Construction was to begin in 2020 on the 14km Valley Line West LRT project, and take six years to complete.

But after SNC-Lavalin and another bidding consortium pulled out in July, the city has to retender the scheme and doesn’t expect to have a builder in place until the end of 2020, with completion now expected in 2027.

SNC-Lavalin pulled out amid a restructuring effort that saw it move away from lump-sum infrastructure projects, while the second team, featuring Vinci subsidiaries Eurovia and Carmacks, with Parsons and others, withdrew because of a team member change, reported CBC. 

That left a Flatiron-Aecon-Dragados joint venture.

Yesterday the City of Edmonton chose the new procurement strategy "after engaging with construction industry stakeholders to better understand changes in the market’s capacity to build the Valley Line West LRT".

It added it would procure light rail vehicles separately and is exploring options.

"Our goal has always been to deliver the Valley Line West LRT project in a manner that provides Edmontonians with the best value for their money and we’re confident our new procurement strategy will achieve that," said Bruce Ferguson, branch manager for LRT Expansion and Renewal.

The city expects to launch the new procurement process with a request for qualifications (RFQ) early in the new year. The successful proponent will be selected by the end of 2020 and the project is expected to be completed by 2027.

Once complete, the full 27km Valley Line will provide continuous light rail transit connecting major destinations between south-east, downtown and west Edmonton.

Artist’s render courtesy of the City of Edmonton

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