FIRST POSTED: | UPDATED: 

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson takes part in an Executive Committee Meeting at City Hall, in Edmonton Alta. on Tuesday Aug. 18, 2015. David Bloom/Edmonton Sun

It's not to be brought up lightly - city hall can't be blamed for everything - but Edmonton City Council must be questioning the competence of its city manager and his top transportation department management.

 

One delay might be annoying but tolerable.

Two delays, even more annoying.

Three delays, unacceptable.

The new Walterdale Bridge is months and months behind schedule, due to delays in shipping of specialty steel from Korea and who knows what else.

The 102 Avenue Bridge across Groat Road is a year behind, due to construction error. Without this bridge, west end/downtown access is severely impacted. Local businesses are hurting big-time.

Then there's the biggest, most mind-boggling schmozzle: The Metro LRT line has been built, but has sat idle for over a year because somebody, somewhere, decided a 30-year signal system could be easily integrated with a brand-new signal system. NOT!

It's not fair - the city does do an awful lot right - but three screw-ups in a row? What will Mayor Don Iveson do? What would his strong-willed predecessors - Steve Mandel, Laurence Decore and William Hawrelak come to mind - have done?

The essential question: Is city council going to hand the on-going design, and then construction supervision, of the southeast to downtown to west-end Valley LRT line to the same in-house management team?

It's not fair. Until now, other than the 40-odd years it's taken to build out the Light Rail Transit (LRT), our public transit system has worked reasonably well.

The current mess highlights and amplifies other minor aggravations. Why have the LRT electronic arrival indicators - telling passengers how long until the next train - stopped working? How aggravating will temporary "LST" - Light "Slow" Transit - be when trains run at half-speed and passenger numbers leap after school starts?

I already know the answers: The arrival time indicators aren't working because they are tied in with the electronic signalling mess. Escalators are reaching the end of their 25-to-30 year life span, needing more and more repairs. (Which begs the question: Are replacements being budgeted for?) As for "LST" once the Metro Line opens "¦ we'll soon find out how slow LST can go.

The Notley government's decision to cancel an Alberta Health Services' (AHS) $3-billion, 15-year contract with Australia-based Sonic Health Ltd has equally huge repercussions.

The health-care system's laboratory-testing service was already contracted out for many years to another private company, Dynalife, which seemed to do a pretty good job.

When Dynalife's contract was coming up for renewal, AHS decided to open up the contract. A Request For Proposal (RFP) was issued. A selection committee toured the world evaluating bidders, including Dynalife itself.

Much to Dynalife's chagrin, Sonic Health won that contract, with all the big, big bucks involved. There have since been on-going issues, about the transfer (or not) of Dynalife's facilities to the new company.

Now the Sonic contract is cancelled.

A review has been ordered by Health Minister Sarah Hoffman to see "if the province has the right balance between province and publicly delivered lab services."

Seeing as Dynalife currently provides two-thirds of Alberta's medical laboratory-services, you can kinda see where the ND government is going with this one.

How much will it cost to outright cancel, with no cause, a signed $3 billion contract with Sonic?

Will Dynalife be asked to carry on past its April 2016 contract due date? (Who else can deliver lab services on such short notice?) Doesn't this put Dynalife in the driver's seat negotiating a contract extension to ensure no disruption in essential lab-services?

How long would it take to create and make operational a public or quasi-public laboratory service? How efficient and cost-effective would it be?

If Dynalife already has a functioning superlab in downtown Edmonton, why dismantle it?

Careful Minister Hoffman and Premier Notley. Those are hornests' nests you are treading on.

FACTOIDS

City of Edmonton's track record for building/rehabilitating major bridge, road and LRT projects.

Capilano Bridge rehabilitation: One year delay, completed 2004.

Dawson Bridge rehabilitation: on time 2010 after one-year closure and on budget; remedial fixes after the fact.

LRT South (from Health Sciences station to Century Park): On time and on budget, opened 2010.

23rd Avenue/Calgary Trail overpass: Original cost and completion date, $75 million, 2006: Actual cost and completion, $261 million, 2011.

Quesnell Bridge and approaches overhaul: One year delay when fully completed 2011, on budget at $161 million.

LRT Metro Line (Churchill LRT Station to NAIT): One year delay, "soft" opening Sept. 2015

Walterdale Bridge (replacement): Expected completion 2016, about a one year delay.

102 Avenue Bridge across Groat Ravine (replacement): Expected one year delay, opening 2016.

Henday Drive, bridges and interchanges - all phases on-time and on-budget, full completion by fall of 2016 : However Henday Drive is a provincial, not municipal, construction project.

Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) Highway and 41 Avenue SW. Interchange: Expected to open on time (opening this fall) and on budget ($205 million - jointly funded with Alberta and federal governments).