News / Edmonton

Estimated cost of Valley Line LRT increases to $2.24 billion

That's almost half a billion more than originally projected, an increase the report attributes to design changes

Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

The Valley Line LRT will have a heftier price tag than expected, according to a report released by the city on Tuesday.

The report estimates the cost of the 27 kilometer project will now be $2.24 billion, up from the $1.8 billion originally projected. But Mayor Don Iveson said the increase is not surprising.

“It might be a little higher than I expected. But you know, ballpark it was going to be two point something, if there were going to be two additional grade separations, so it’s not a huge surprise.”

According to the report, the additional costs are the result of seven design changes made since the original concept plans were approved by council in 2011.

Specifically, the grade separations -- which seperate the train from car traffic -- added for 178 and 149 Streets have meant added costs. The newest designs also keep the underpass proposed for 149 Street, a plan that has drawn fire for the number of businesses currently in the way.

Coun. Andrew Knack says he approves of the grade separation on 178 Street, which will include an overpass from West Edmonton Mall, but has concerns about 149 Street.

“We have heard from the community fairly loud and clear and the cost and traffic impact is not worth it to do the underpass,” he said. “I think it really harms the overall vibrancy of the neighbourhood if you go that route.”

He said the money for the underpass could be put towards improving the flow of trafffic, "not just at that one intersection but city wide”.

The Park and Ride facility at the Lewis Farms transit stop has also been increased substantially to approximately 900 parking stalls up from the previous 275.

Knack says the increase is necessary to help ease the transition from car to LRT.

“I don’t think you do that overnight. Somebody that drives 100 per cent of the time for their work, for recreation, they are not going to immediately sell their car and start using (LRT),” he said.

“Let’s give people that alternative to drive to the Park and Ride, then jump on the LRT system that helps with the traffic impact.”

As far as funding for the Valley Line is concerned, Iveson says he doesn't think the new price tag will change the discussions with the provincial government.

“They made a $1.5 billion commitment to Calgary for the Green Line and we have been fighting hard for a comparable investment in Edmonton, and if we are able to secure that, that would more than provide for a healthy provincial share for the West LRT,” he said.

The Valley Line LRT is a low-floor transit project that will operate between Mill Woods in the southeast and Lewis Farms in west Edmonton.

It is divided into two phases: southeast and west. Construction on the southeast leg is currently underway between 102 Street and Mill Woods Town Centre.

The report on the Valley Line West, that goes from 102 Street to Lewis Farms will be heading to city council public hearing for debate on March 21.

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