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Councillors raising questions about LRT maintenance after latest shutdown

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One day after the city’s light rail system was partially shutdown for a structural inspection, some councillors want to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Pieces of concrete were found along the light-rail transit track inside the St-Laurent Station tunnel that had chipped off the main outer slab, forcing OC Transpo to shut down service on the eastern section of the LRT station for seven hours on Tuesday.

"I was disappointed that the LRT was shutdown again," said Coun. Riley Brockington, a member of the city’s transit commission.

"This adds to public concerns about the overall integrity of the line as we have seen these problems before."

The city has hired a structural engineering firm to review the tunnel where the concrete had fallen. The city says the St-Laurent Bus Rapid Transit Station was constructed in the mid-1980's.

"I expect our senior staff to know that as assets age, certain wear and tear will present itself. The whole point of preventative maintenance is to ensure things don’t happen that cause lines to be shut down," Brockington said.

"We need to avoid these problems from happening at all."

Brockington says he will be asking questions to staff about the tunnel's maintenance at the city's next transit commission meeting.

"It does highlight where we have a lot of questions," said Coun. Tim Tierney, who also sits on the transit commission.

Tierney says all other tunnels along the Confederation Line are maintained by the Rideau Transit Group, but because the St Laurent Tunnel is much older than the line, it is operated by the City of Ottawa.

"Even though they are saying it is just the veneer and not a structural concrete that was on the track, that will still have an impact," he said.

"I think there will be a lot of questions on inspection schedules and seeing how we move forward on this one so it doesn’t happen again."

Tierney says as a city, they must address the tunnel issues 'in a very short order.'

“We want to give confidence to our riders and having things raining from the sky is probably not a good start to it," he said.

Despite multiple attempts since Tuesday, neither the city nor OC Transpo would provide an interview to CTV News, only providing written statements.

A statement attributed to OC Transpo acting general manager Richard Holder, reads in part: "The safety of our customers and employees is paramount. There are multiple layers of oversight built into the O-Train network to ensure the system is safe."

The city says transit services and Infrastructure and Water Services Department will continue to collaborate to schedule any planned inspections.

With files from CTV News Ottawa's Josh Pringle and William Eltherington

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