Wednesday, November 30, 2016

It is *not* hard to believe. One only need to look at Burlington GO Station to forgo any amazement at this news

Lots more stuff relating to Metrolinx in the Auditor General's report... the Pickering Bridge section is shown below.

[Quote, bold highlights all mine*]
4.2.2 Metrolinx Awarded a Contractor Phase 2 of Pickering Bridge Project Even Though It Had Performed Extremely Poorly on Phase 1

The contractor for Phase 1 of the construction of a pedestrian bridge over Highway 401 in Pickering performed so poorly that Metrolinx staff had to take over performing many of its duties. Nevertheless, Metrolinx hired the same contractor for Phase 2 of the project because it was the lowest bidder. On Phase 2, the contractor caused significant damage to the bridge. Nevertheless, Metrolinx paid the contractor almost the full $8 million of their contract. We noted that, after performing poorly on both Phase 1 and Phase 2, Metrolinx still awarded this contractor another major project valued at $39 million.

The bridge in question is a landmark structure allowing pedestrians to cross 14 lanes of Highway 401 between the Pickering GO Station and the evolving Pickering City Centre development. Phase 1 of the project involved the construction of the bridge and stairwells; Phase 2 involved the installation of external cladding over the bridge. The bridge was to serve, according to the City of Pickering website, “as an iconic, luminous landmark, signifying where Pickering and Durham Region begin.”

Phase 1: Contractor Demonstrated Complete Lack of Experience in Building Bridges
Although building the bridge structure and stairwells would be fairly straightforward for an experienced contractor, the contractor awarded the job was performing poorly; as a result, Metrolinx staff had to take over and manage many of its responsibilities on this $19-million project. For example, the contractor had no experience in installing the bridge trusses (a bridge truss is the metal skeleton that is the most basic component of the bridge), something that a contractor constructing a bridge would be expected to know how to do. In fact, it installed one truss upside down. Seeing this, Metrolinx project staff stepped in to manage the truss installation even though this was clearly the contractor’s responsibility. They managed the truss supplier and related sub-trades, arranged the delivery of the trusses, shut down Highway 401 during installation, and managed other aspects of traffic flow. Metrolinx staff also went so far as to find a hauling company to move the trusses to the site: work that all should have been managed by the contractor. The contractor was still paid the full $19 million in payments.

Phase 2: Contractor Again Won Contract Despite Poor Performance then Damaged the Bridge 
Although Metrolinx was aware of this contractor’s lack of experience, its poor work ethic, and its unwillingness to improve performance, Metrolinx did not restrict it from bidding on Phase 2 of this project. Because this contractor’s bid was the lowest, Metrolinx awarded it the contract for the second phase of work.

The contractor’s performance was again poor—poor enough, in fact, that Metrolinx eventually terminated its contract. But not before the contractor caused significant damage to the bridge. By improperly welding some metal components, workers splattered metal over large areas of glass. A glass expert hired by Metrolinx later identified that 87% of the glass had been damaged, and recommended that it all be replaced. Metrolinx estimates it will cost about $1 million to fix the glass.

Metrolinx also discovered that the contractor built the stairwell incorrectly (in Phase 1). Because the stairwell had been built too wide, the cladding material would break if the contractor attempted to stretch it over the stairwells. The contractor did not fix the stairwell and, at the time of our audit, the problem still had not been solved. Metrolinx was working with an engineering firm to develop a cost-efficient solution to fix the stairwell problem at its own expense. Figure 5 shows the concept of the iconic bridge, and what is in place today because of the contractor’s mistake in constructing the stairwell.

Metrolinx terminated the contract with the contractor, even though the stairwell portion of the job had not been completed. Nevertheless, Metrolinx signed a settlement agreement, and paid the contractor 99% of the contract’s original value of $8 million.

We noted that after the contractor’s poor performance on both Phase 1 and Phase 2 of this project, Metrolinx awarded this contractor another project valued at $39 million. After that, Metrolinx chose not to award the contractor work on a few projects (for which the contractor provided the lowest bid) because it was not deemed qualified to perform the work based on past performance with Metrolinx. We discuss our concerns with this in Section 4.2.3 below.


*Mine being a concerned passenger who would like to stay anonymous who painfully read through the report and gave the highlights.


gattaca said...

Other GO train mismanagement by Metrolinx are

One contractor used lower-quality concrete for a GO platform and sometimes failed to show up for work but still received 22 more contracts for other projects.

Railway companies CN and CP respectively charge Metrolinx 74-per-cent and 30-per-cent more than industry standards for work done on railway corridors used by GO trains. Despite paying these premiums, Ms. Lysyk found, CN used recycled rails on a Metrolinx project and sometimes used money from Metrolinx to pay for upgrades to CN tracks that GO trains do not use.

Rory said...

The Ontario Government in general is way too wimpy in dealing with private sector contractors. They constantly pay more then the industry standard, they pay full price for substandard or incomplete work and they rarely enforce the penalty clauses built into the contracts that are supposed to be imposed on contractors who don't live up to their obligations. They also seem scared to death of law suits. This leads them to pay undeserved settlements to private sector firms just to avoid litigation, even in situations where they would have won in court.

Ed said...

I hope the report is a wakeup call for the big shots at MX. It's bad enough that Wynne and her gang routinely waste our tax dollars for no gain whatsoever.

MX needs to take the high road and crack down on shoddy contractors and bad workmanship. Come on Bruce, show some backbone and get rid of the underperformers who wimp out on these issues.

Tal Hartsfeld said...

Isn't this ultimately costing Metrolinx even more time and money?
And why the obvious show of favoritism to this particular contracting firm?

G said...

Keep this in mind when they announce the fare increases next week.

Ed said...

The fare box revenue doesn't get diverted to capital projects. That increase is only for the operational costs.

Capital projects are funded nearly 100% from the province and they take the money from general revenue, or in Wynnes case, borrow it.

G said...


Phew! Good to know my fare dollars aren't being wasted... just my tax dollars.

Russ M said...

What firm was the contractor for the Pickering pedestrian bridge? Was it Bondfield, aka Metrolinx's favorite mistake?

I don't understand why there hasn't been and isn't a long and loud hue and cry from the public, the local press and the local politicians about the unending fiasco at Burlington GO station. Transportation Steve Del Duca just shrugs and says he hasn't heard anything in a while about the project. His ears should be burning. MetroLinx contract management is utterly incompetent. Four years the buses have been re-routed. Four years! Like what, like Soviet-era Russia.

Jalan Jalan said...

The company was hired because it had the lowest bid. I believe all government contacts are awarded this way now. Toronto does the same thing. So we get companies who aren't qualified making low ball bids. And then they seem to get hired again. This has come about because of the strong pressure on governments to cut spending and 'waste' or so called gravy.

Al said...

Where is figure 5? Showing what it's supposed to and now looks like?

Russ M said...

Figure 5 is on page 497 of the Auditor General's report.

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