Can lessons from the St. Clair streetcar project be applied here?

The TTC has just published “Getting it Right: Lessons from the St. Clair Streetcar for the Implementation of Transit City,” written by Les Kelman and Richard Soberman. The report details the missteps that led to delays and cost overruns with the St. Clair transit project. The Globe and Mail sums up the report’s conclusions nicely: “The price tag of the new St. Clair streetcar line nearly doubled because nobody was in charge as the project’s scope ballooned, public consultation ran amok and more than 20 small contractors tripped over each other.” The authors also blamed provincial intervention, including the granting of a judicial review of the project, as a main cause for the delays.

Transit guru Steve Munro has posted his response to the TTC report. He questions the report’s emphasis on “project creep” and obstinate community members, and places more blame for the delays on good old-fashioned bureaucracy, mismanagement and a “silo mentality” within City departments and agencies. He also says that the TTC resisted public input not only from steadfast opponents, but from project supporters as well, and must share considerable blame for the poor public consultations.

The report mentions that a Project Management Plan is being prepared, and a single Transit City office is being established within the TTC, which should improve how such projects are managed in the future. Specifically, the report stresses the importance of:

• ensuring construction contract conditions that facilitate staging and traffic management plans,

• including both incentives and disincentives related to meeting construction milestones,

• finalizing methods of staging construction through workshops with consultants, contractors, and the City, as well as affected utilities, and

• promoting pro-active liaison with residents, businesses and BIAs early in the final design and construction stages.

The Roncesvalles Village BIA has requested that such completion incentives, along with other mitigation efforts, be written into the contract for phase two of the Roncesvalles reconstruction (set to begin probably in June).

While the Roncesvalles reconstruction is tiny compared to the scope of the Transit City LRT projects, the BIA hopes that the City and TTC will examine the lessons of the St. Clair project (along with the lessons learned so far during the Roncesvalles reconstruction), and apply them here.

The BIA is gathering input from merchants and the community about phase one of the Roncesvalles reconstruction, and is forwarding recommendations to City staff. If you have any observations or recommendations on how to mitigate disruption during phase two, please contact the BIA at info@nullroncesvallesvillage.ca, Councillor Gord Perks at councillor_perks@nulltoronto.ca, or post below.