Increasing cost estimates are forcing Calgary’s city administration to re-examine a four-kilometre stretch of the Green Line that is set to run through Calgary’s downtown and up to 16 Ave. NW.
City council’s transportation committee received an update Wednesday that the Green Line funding of $4.9 billion could increase by 10 percent, following a constructability review. The review found that technical risks to a tunnel under the downtown and under the Bow River were pushing the underground stations deeper than originally planned.
The plan originally approved by council was to begin tunneling four kilometres of the 20-kilometre first stage that would run from the planned Shepard station in the SE to 16 Ave. NW.
City administrators say they will now look at several other options to bring the costs down, such as a shorter length of tunnel–which would reduce the number of underground stations by running the train at street level. They say they will also be looking at a bridge to cross the Bow River instead of going underneath it.
A recommendation on how to move forward will come back to the committee in January.
“If we can’t demonstrate to ourselves and our company and our transportation department and show we’re going to do this, then January is going to be a duke-out fight with stakeholders and council,” said Councillor Evan Woolley.
“If that demonstration doesn’t happen I think you’re in for a really really big fight”
Woolley is also warning administration to not stray far from the original vision and intent of the Green Line.
Councillor Druh Farrell represents the inner city area in the north where the first stage of the Green Line ends. She questions if January is too tight a timeline to look at changes and allow the public to have their say. “We’ve been giving short shrift to public engagement and input with some big projects,” said Farrell.
“Trust is eroding in this council as a result.”
The committee also heard on Wednesday that a four member independent technical-risk committee will oversee the project. “They have decades of experience in projects just like this,” said Keating.
He believes the group will provide a sense of security, “Here is a well-rounded group of individuals who have expertise in a number of aspects, they’re coming forward, and they’re saying ‘this is the way you should go'”.