Municipal Councillors from both sides of the Burlington-Oakville boundary are teaming up to press Metrolinx too make good on its plan to build two railway underpasses.
Metrolinx recently told both Oakville and Burlington it could no longer meet its commitment to the costs agreed to by all parties involved for both the Burloak and Kerr Separations and that the Kerr Street underpass would be deferred with no future timeline. The cost of the Burloak underpass had soared to $177 million–nearly triple its estimated cost and would have cost Burlington and Oakville an extra $29 million each as their share of the funding formula.
Burlington Councillor Paul Sharman along with Oakville Councillors Sean O’Meara and Beth Robertson have issued a news release calling on the region’s four PC MPPs to intervene, stating, “these changes to our agreements with the Provincial agency are unacceptable to us. Grade separations not only ease congestion, they are pivotal to the health and safety of our community for vehicles and pedestrians and ensure rail transportation moves unimpeded across the Lakeshore West Line. As representatives in areas directly impacted by these railway crossings, we hear daily about delays, safety issues and concerns from our residents. We are determined to ensure the Province and Metrolinx fulfill their commitments to the residents in our neighbourhoods and the Halton community at large.”
The release calls on the province to agree to the dollar amounts established in 2018, which, in the case of the Burloak crossing would have been $15 million for each municipality, The release continues, “now is not the time to put critical infrastructure on the back burner. With the Province mandating growth throughout our communities, we in good conscious cannot continue to fulfill the Province’s demands of added population without safety being put first.”
The news of the cost overrun prompted Oakville Mayor Rob Burton to tweet “I said to @Metrolinx “Your track record in Oakville is unbroken. You’ve never delivered anything you’ve promised on time or on budget.”
The Bay Observer contacted Metrolinx to find out why the project costs had gotten so far out of control and received the following response: “. Since the beginning of COVID the price of bridge building materials such as concrete and steel have increased significantly. The cost of fuel is also on the rise – and the competition in the labour market has resulted in a significant increase to project risks and costs of this grade separation.”