September 15, 2017 9:39 am
Updated: September 15, 2017 8:35 pm

Alberta uses carbon tax revenue to turn $176M Valley Line LRT loan into grant

WATCH ABOVE: Alberta is upping its support for Edmonton's Valley Line LRT project. As Tom Vernon reports, it's thanks to revenues from the climate leadership plan.

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The province is converting a $176-million loan to the City of Edmonton into a grant for the construction of the southeast leg of the Valley Line LRT.

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The funding was originally given to the city in 2014 as an interest-free loan by Allison Redford’s Progressive Conservative government. The province is converting the loan into a grant with money from carbon tax revenue.

Friday’s announcement keeps the province’s total Valley Line contribution at $600 million, or one-third of the $1.8-billion project cost.

“I’m pleased to see the province’s continued support and commitment for LRT expansion in our city, which itself is a key part of our greater transit strategy for the Edmonton Metro region,” Mayor Don Iveson said.

Iveson, provincial Minister of Transportation and Minister of Infrastructure Brian Mason, and other officials were on hand for the announcement at the Gerry Wright Operations and Maintenance Facility construction site.

Mason said the southeast line is a priority for the provincial government.

“Funding for this project will help to make life better for Albertans by supporting an affordable, accessible and environmentally sustainable transportation option in Alberta’s capital city,” Mason said.

READ MORE: Questions, questions and more questions on traffic versus Valley Line LRT

The facility at 75 Street and Whitemud Drive is where Valley Line LRT vehicles will be cleaned, serviced and stored. It is adjacent to Whitemud Drive, where a bridge over the freeway will be built next to the 75 Street overpass.

Artist rendering of the Gerry Wright Operations and Maintenance Facility on Edmonton’s Valley Line.

COURTESY: Trans Ed Partners

READ MORE: Edmonton hoping for transit money after Calgary funding announcement

The 27-kilometre Valley Line LRT is being built in two stages, with the first 13-kilometre stretch from Mill Woods in the southeast to downtown is under construction right now.

The southeast line is being built as a P3 project by TransEd: a four-company consortium made up of Bombardier Transportation, engineering firm Bechtel, construction company EllisDon and Fengate Capital Management.

The southeast portion of the line is expected to be complete in 2020.

WATCH:  Vinesh Pratap takes a look at how the Edmonton’s LRT expansion compares to LRT extensions elsewhere in Canada.

The second phase of the Valley Line, which would extend the line from downtown to Lewis Farms in the city’s west end, is in the planning and design phase.

The city received federal funds in 2016 to do a review of the 2013 preliminary design and see if any changes need to be made, especially at two high-volume intersections.

READ MORE: City of Edmonton aims to educate neighbourhoods about west Valley Line LRT

The city’s website said while there are no timelines for additional funding, the city hopes to be ready to initiate the procurement phase as early as 2018. The city said once funds are secured, it expects to take about a year to choose a contractor for the Valley Line West, and another five years to complete construction.

“I look forward to working with our funding partners on upcoming projects which will bring even greater transit choice to Edmontonians,” Iveson added.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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