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Green Line still on track; council passes extra precautions

Calgary councillor's discuss the Green Line LRT project.
Calgary councillor's discuss the Green Line LRT project. John Himpe / Global News

Monday’s meeting of city council became more about how to gain back public trust rather than pressing pause on the Green Line LRT project.

A set of 11 amendments was passed by council on Monday night, with most focused on taking a look at the downtown segment of Stage 1 of the Green Line.

READ MORE: Deputy director of Calgary’s Green Line LRT project resigns suddenly

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said most of the changes don’t come as a surprise to those working on the project.

“[City planner’s] good work has been informed by a lot of ideas long before this Transit and Transportation meeting,” Nenshi said.
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“I’m very pleased that there’s no pause and that we will continue to do good work here.”

Among the amendments, council directed city administration not to start construction on any portion of the Green Line until a review of the downtown leg is completed.

That review will look at the budget, sustainability, and risks associated with the more complex portions of the project.

Ward 12 Coun.Shane Keating penned the amendments and said the main issues revolve around how the future LRT line will cross the Bow River.

“The deep tunnel has to be revisited,” Keating said. “The length, how deep and how you construct it. All of it has to be revisited. But what we’ve done is bring in a third party to help [administration] revisit it.”

READ MORE: Calgary committee recommends council continues with Green Line work

In a report to council, Calgary’s transportation department said it agrees that portions of the project are not yet ready to be finalized. Instead, the first stage of the Green Line has been divided based on which stretches are ready to proceed.

“Approximately 16 kilometers or 80 per cent of the project between Ramsay and 126 Avenue S.E. is ready for construction,” the report states “The planning is completed, including design refinements and cost efficiencies, and the land is substantially purchased and owned by the city.”

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

The report added that the northern portion will be the part of the project under the most scrutiny.

“16 Avenue N to Ramsay requires more detailed review as the project’s cost estimates are running high by approximately 10 per cent and technical risks were pushing stations deeper underground.”

The report said that the original plan to run a 4-kilometer tunnel and deep stations would be too large, adding that those underground facilities would push the budget above the planned $4.9 billion.

The amendments also state that construction on any part of the Green Line can not proceed until the independent review is completed, and any changes have been approved by the council.

The review is expected to be completed by January 2020