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OC Transpo to suspend east-end LRT service tonight as inspections continue at St. Laurent station

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OC Transpo will be suspending east-end service this evening to complete remedial work to the damaged concrete roof slab that has kept St. Laurent station closed since Friday, but remains confident the service can return to normal Wednesday.

In a memo to council on Tuesday, OC Transpo said Line 1 service will be suspended after 10 p.m. tonight between Blair and Hurdman stations until the end of service as fixes to the damage on the concrete roof slab above the platform requires additional time to complete.

R1 service will operate between Blair and Hurdman stations and train service will run in both directions from Tunney's Pasture to Hurdman station.

"Crews will continue to work in the station today to support the remaining remedial work, and final inspections to confirm that any hazards associated with the concrete roof slab and the suspended ceiling have been fully mitigated," said OC Transpo's general manager of transit services Renee Amilcar and the general manager of Infrastructure and Water Services, Tammy Rose, in the memo.

"The final inspection may require some further remedial work to be completed. The cleaning of the station will also begin today to support the reopening of the station."

In an earlier memo on Monday, OC Transpo said crews had to remove suspended ceiling tiles above the rail platforms and inspect the tunnel concrete after a regular visual inspection on Friday found evidence of corrosion on the tiles and potential damage to the concrete.

Rail service continues to run on a normal schedule, with trains running from Tunney's Pasture to Blair Station, and skipping St. Laurent Station. Shuttles are operating between St. Laurent and Cyrville stations.

It's unclear if the station will reopen on-time for Wednesday service, but an update will be provided to passenger at a media availability with OC Transpo and councillors on Wednesday.

Amilcar and Rose add that more inspections will be taking place of the other Line 1 tunnels.

"Given the state of the suspended ceiling infrastructure in St-Laurent Station, out of an abundance of caution, OC Transpo has asked Rideau Transit Maintenance (RTM) to conduct proactive inspections of the suspended infrastructure at Parliament, Rideau and Lyon Stations. More details on the timing and impact of those inspections will be announced once plans are finalised," the memo added.

It's the second time this year the tunnel has created problems for the transit service.

East end councillors frustrated

East end councillors are frustrated of the continued problems on that side of the line.

Beacon Hill-Cyrville Coun. Tim Tierney said, "In the east end of the city we've been enduring so much right now between traffic and transit. The highway has been closed, the roadways have been congested, and the east needs to see some resolution on this."

When it comes to the current issue at St Laurent, Tierney said, "I'm past frustrated at this point. My east end colleagues, (Catherine) Kitts, (Matt) Luloff, and (Laura) Dudas are also frustrated."

Tierney, who sits on the transit commission, says the east end of the line has more problems than the west end does.

 "There's great concern from all east end residents. If you have to get on and off busses and trains back and forth to get to your destination, it's not going to work," he said. "And imagine what, it's -42 and we're doing the same thing. There's no way you'll get people out of their cars onto public transit."

It's not just councillors in the east who are concerned. Barrhaven East Coun. Wilson Lo, who also sits on the city's transit commission, wants to know more about why this issues keep happening and says he is worried about the durability of the bus loop above the tunnel.

"At this point, we've been saying this so much now… It's disappointing and annoying. But for me, I kind of want to look deeper into the issue of what's going on above the tunnel," he said Tuesday. "The tunnel was refurbished when the LRT was built. I don't exactly know how that was done or what exactly was done, but the fact that the bus loop does remain above, and especially if the issue that Renée (Amilcar, OC Transpo General Manager) had indicated was water infiltration, it does raise a lot of questions for me about the longevity of the tunnel."

In January, a section of the east-end O-Train line was shutdown after a structural inspection found pieces of concrete on the tracks of St. Laurent Station.

Staff found the concrete had chipped off the main slab inside the tunnel and crews performed "sounding and scaling" to remove small concrete pieces that had separate from the main slab.

Line 1 service was able to return to normal after a seven hour shutdown.

--With files from CTV News Ottawa's Leah Larocque

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