Transit Briefs: Metrolinx, TransLink, VRE, WMATA

Written by Marybeth Luczak, Executive Editor
An artist rendering of the Toronto Union Station platforms. Improvement work, as part of Metrolinx's Union Station Enhancement Project, is expected to start early this year. (Metrolinx image)

An artist rendering of the Toronto Union Station platforms. Improvement work, as part of Metrolinx's Union Station Enhancement Project, is expected to start early this year. (Metrolinx image)

Metrolinx has awarded Toronto’s Union Station Enhancement Project to ONTrack Alliance. In addition, Metro Vancouver’s Transport 2050 plan is now final; the $5 million rehabilitation of Virginia Railway Express’ (VRE) Fredericksburg station is expected to begin this summer; and Washington Area Metropolitan Transit Authority (WMATA) has earned a Transportation Security Administration award.

The ONTrack Alliance team of Kiewit–Alberici Union General Partnership (contractors), WSP Canada Inc. (designers) and Mass. Electric Construction Canada Co. (signaling work) will begin construction on the Union Station Enhancement Project early this year, with completion slated for late 2025.  

Work at the historic Union Station will be delivered in stages and includes the glass atrium, removing heritage steel, installing overhead lighting, a new south concourse, widening platforms, increasing stair and elevator access, and upgrades to passenger communications systems.

Metrolinx on Jan. 31 reported signing a Project Alliance Agreement that awarded the contract to ONTrack Alliance and positioned the team to break ground.

The Union Station Enhancement Project is the first major project in Canada to be procured using the “alliance” contracting model, “an innovative procurement and delivery method recognized for delivering successful initiatives in Australia in the past 20 years,” Metrolinx said. “It was determined that given the increased complexity of Union Station, the nature of the risks involved in this project were difficult to define. Therefore, the alliance contracting model was chosen as it is much better equipped to address risk constructively and collaboratively. Other benefits of the alliance model include greater transparency and cooperative decision-making.”

In August, Metrolinx competed the 10-year, C$824 million Union Station Revitalization Project, which included remodeling and expanding the main passenger area, Bay Concourse.

The Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation and the TransLink Board of Directors have signed off on Transport 2050, which outlines a new 30-year plan for Metro Vancouver. It includes more than 100 actions or strategies “to make transportation options more convenient, reliable, affordable, safe, comfortable and environmentally sustainable,” according to TransLink.

Among them: Quadrupling the rapid transit network with more than 186 miles (300 kilometers) of new rapid transit, which could include bus rapid transit, light rail, subway or SkyTrain service.

Transport 2050 was built through TransLink’s three-phase public engagement effort, which began in 2019. TransLink hosted more than 350 in-person or virtual events resulting in 160,000-plus conversations, 38,000 surveys, and 4,000 ideas; it also engaged with Indigenous Nations, urban Indigenous organizations, and more than 500 stakeholder groups in 27 different municipalities. The first full draft of Transport 2050 was released last fall.

TransLink will next work with the Mayors’ Council to develop a detailed blueprint that will prioritize shorter-term action items for implementation. That blueprint is expected for release later this year.

The VRE Operations Board has approved a construction management services task order for the Fredericksburg commuter rail station rehabilitation project. Work includes lengthening the station’s platform; new stairs, allowing riders to move between the platform and parking lot without crossing Princess Anne Street at grade level; and new signage, sidewalks, lighting and paint.

The next step is selecting a construction contractor, VRE said.

“The Fredericksburg rehabilitation project is one of more than a dozen station improvement projects included in VRE’s six-year $1.1 billion capital improvement program,” Operations Board Chair Margaret Franklin said. “VRE, in partnership with the commonwealth of Virginia, has embarked on a decadelong process that will make our service one of the most safe, reliable and convenient in the nation.”

WMATA has received its fourth Gold Standard Award for transit security from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The recognition followed TSA’s Baseline Assessment for Security Enhancement (BASE), a comprehensive review of WMATA’s security plan, security training, drills and exercise programs, and public outreach efforts. The agency reported attaining high scores across all 17 categories evaluated.

“Safety is Metro’s [WMATA’s] top priority, and this award recognizes the 24/7 effort to protect the National Capital Region from security threats,” General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld said. “We appreciate the TSA’s work to keep Metro and transit agencies across the country safe, and we’ll remain vigilant and proactive to counter and prepare for any threats our region may face.”

“Metro’s strong security posture is a testament to MTPDs [Metro Transit Police Department’s] dedication to safety, as well as our strong partnerships with TSA and our local, state and federal law enforcement partners,” acting MTPD Chief Michael Anzallo said.

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