Cost of Broadway subway line grows to an estimated $2.83 billion

A rendering of future plans for a light rail transit (LRT) system in Surrey. City of Surrey

TransLink is now estimating the six-stop Broadway extension subway line will cost $2.83 billion, up from a four-year-old projected cost of just under $2 billion.

The transit authority unveiled the costs of the next phase of projects on Monday.

The six-stop line is slated to go from the VCC-Clark station, mainly below Broadway Avenue, to Arbutus Street.

LISTEN: Estimated costs rise on Surrey LRT, Broadway subway
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The project was in 2014 budgeted to cost $1.98 billion. Adjusted for inflation, that would be $2.28 billion in 2018 dollars.

The business case for the Broadway line must now be approved. Part of the extension will be elevated above ground, but most of it will be tunnelled under the street. The extension is expected to move more than 7,100 people per hour in each direction, an increase of 255 per cent compared to the current B-Line service.

READ MORE: UBC wants in on the Broadway subway, but TransLink says it’s a no-go

The construction is expected to start in 2020, with the target completion date of 2025. TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond says the cost has gone up because of increased property costs, construction delays and a weaker Canadian dollar.

On Monday, TransLink also released details about the cost of other Phase Two investments. It includes $1.65 billion for the Surrey LRT and $1.3 billion for upgrades to the Expo and Millennium lines.

WATCH HERE: Big funding announcement for Metro Vancouver transit projects

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Big funding announcement for Metro Vancouver transit projects

“We are ready to show Metro Vancouver how this ambitious phase of the 10-Year Vision will bring improvements that our region has been talking about for years. The funding agreements are in place, and we are excited to be taking this next phase from planning into reality,” Desmond said in a statement. “If the Phase Two Plan is approved, people will see region-wide transit system improvements beginning in early 2019.”

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The federal and provincial governments have pledged to each cover 40 per cent of the costs. The Metro Vancouver Mayor’s council proposed a two per cent increase to all transit fares over two years beginning in 2020 and an increase on all off-street parking within Metro Vancouver by 15 cents per hour to $5 per hour parking. The proposal also includes a $5.50 increase in property taxes per average household each year.

READ MORE: The final cost of the Surrey LRT project is still not known

The Surrey LRT will be at street level, include 11 new stops, and cost an estimated $1.65 billion. Construction is expected to start in 2020, with a target completion date set for 2024.

“New service, projects and improvements in the Phase Two Investment Plan have the potential to change lives for Metro Vancouver residents. It’s about improving livability for them, so it’s imperative we hear their feedback,” said Mayors’ Council chair Derek Corrigan.

“I’m hoping everyone living in our region will take some time to review what we are planning and let us know what they think.”

Some critics are already weighing in.

Richard Landale has fought against Surrey LRT for years, and has been calling for a referendum on the project. With the estimated cost of the project rising by about 33 per cent, he said it doesn’t make sense.

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“I can’t see how the Guildford city center and Newton ridership can even afford that,” he said.

When will that get paid off, how will it get paid off, the taxpayers are on the hook at the beginning I actually think this is just ridiculous.”

Landale argues the city and TransLink should have opted for an elevated system like SkyTrain instead.

-With files from Janet Brown

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