CALGARY- Following the newly-ignited debate over the southwest ring road, the province is setting the record straight about just how much it will cost Calgarians.
On Wednesday, some councillors voiced concerns that the $5 billion roadway is not the best use of taxpayer money, and that there are more urgent projects like the southeast leg of the LRT.
“I think five billion dollars for 32 kilometers of road is a significant amount of money, and I think all taxpayers should be very, very concerned as well,” said Ward 8 councillor Evan Woolley. “This is limiting our future transportation projects and funding.”
However, Alberta Transportation maintains that the $5 billion figure is a very rough estimate, which includes more than just construction costs. The City of Calgary is only on the hook for $133 million, to build connection roads.
“The funds that are going to be required, the city can spend them when they deem it to be required,” says Nancy Beasley Hosker from Alberta Transportation, adding the costs were well known before the deal was finalized. “Again, those are municipal decisions, but certainly they’ve been part of the planning the whole time.”
While inner-city councillors are the ones who have once again raised the debate, other council members like Ward Sutherland, Richard Pootmans and Joe Magliocca don’t understand what all the fuss is about.
“It’s out of our jurisdiction, it’s a provincial highway, we just have to tie into it,” said Magliocca.
“This debate should be just gone.”
“I don’t understand that debate,” Pootmans added. “You can’t build three quarters of a system and leave the final quarter unbuilt. It needs to be complete for it to work efficiently.”
Provincial funding was specifically allocated for the ring road, and there are separate funds for things like LRTs.