City staff have released a new report with updated design recommendations for the West LRT that includes seven changes and a much higher price tag.
Changing the design at a couple of intersection crossings in the west, compared to the 2011 recommendations, will increase the cost from $1.8 billion to $2.24 billion.
The increase also includes a dramatically larger park-and-ride facility at Lewis Estates. The report recommends adjusting the location of the LRT stop and storage facility and increasing the size of the park-and-ride lot to about 900 stalls — at a cost of about $24 million.
The new design also includes grade separations at 178 Street, where the track will be raised, as well as a north/south 149 Street, where the track will stay at-grade along Stony Plain Road. The report estimates adding these grade separations will cost $240 million.
Coun. Andrew Knack likes the idea for 178 Street but isn’t fond of the changes proposed for 149 Street.
“178 Street at 87 Avenue, I think it’s absolutely worth doing,” he said.
“I think the money, because we’re already above ground, we’re not spending a lot of new money to reach that point. It makes a lot of sense to do that.”
However, he feels the cost of the changes suggested for 149 Street don’t justify the overall time savings.
“We’re talking about saving 99 seconds for probably the busiest part of the traffic for $160 million for one particular area,” Knack said. “I think there’s better use of that money when we’re worried about traffic flow.”
Meanwhile, the plan has a station being taken off 124 Street and put a block east at 123 Street.
Coun. Scott McKeen would rather see the station located at 125 Street instead of 123 Street because it would better serve Westmount residents.
“We’re planning an LRT transportation system for the next 100 years and there will be problems as far as what people see today of their urban realm.
“Things will probably change. But we’re going to have a lot of questions about that and try to minimize the impact and have a great LRT system to the west,” he said.
“The recommended concept plan amendments… would have an impact to the overall Valley Line West project budget,” the report reads.
“The Valley Line West capital construction cost is currently estimated at $2.24 billion. This project cost estimate includes the seven design recommendations noted above and factors in inflation, assuming a construction start in 2019.”
City council will debate the report at a public hearing on March 21.
— With files from Vinesh Pratap, Global News