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Calgary committee recommends council continues with Green Line work

Rendering of proposed Green Line tunnel for downtown Calgary.
Rendering of proposed Green Line tunnel for downtown Calgary. Courtesy: City of Calgary

A city committee is recommending council approve a status update on the Green Line LRT project, but change how contracts for the project are awarded.

How the transit project will traverse the Bow River and downtown Calgary is at the heart of the change.

READ MORE: City of Calgary administration waves red flag at Green Line tunnel

The city team leading the work said they need more time to evaluate the risks and scope of boring a tunnel for the Green Line under the Bow River and the downtown — a four-kilometre span. But the same team is comfortable with moving ahead with the above-ground, 16-kilometre portion of track that runs from Victoria Park to Shepard.

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Ward 12 Councillor Shane Keating said any delays would only cost the city money.

“Let’s move and let’s move now. Every time we start delaying this thing we’re talking $1 million a day and we can’t continue to do that,” Keating said Wednesday.

“It would be my hope and my pressure I guess to say let’s move. Lets get going but let’s do this right.”

A group of Calgary businessmen requested the city pause Green Line construction until all tunneling-related questions were answered. They were also concerned about the possibility of the $4.9-billion project could increase in cost to $7 billion and proposed the underground portion of the Green Line be elevated.

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Councillors Druh Farrell and Evan Woolley were against the elevated line because that option had been dismissed after extensive public consultation.

“In movies, when they try to represent the most terrifying, bad neighbourhood in a city, they have a rattling, elevated subway,” Woolley said.

“And no cities in the entire world are building an elevated subways, never mind through a downtown.”

Keating said there will be a thorough assessment of the risk of tunneling done in the next year by the Green Line team.

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“They will listen to industry and listen to the individuals who know what they’re talking about and if changes have to happen they would then come back to us and we could open those changes.”

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Under their plan, contracts for the four-kilometre stretch would not go out until 2021.

Requests for Qualifications for the remainder of phase one of the project — a 16-kilometre, at-grade stretch of track between Victoria Park and 126 Avenue S.E. — would go out in July, with Requests for Proposals going out in 2020 and construction to begin in 2021.