News / Ottawa

Burying Richmond Underground on NCC land estimated to cost $180 million

Burying a portion of the Richmond Underground light rail extension under federal lands would cost $180 million, according to a rough estimate provided to the city in April.

The estimate, made by the consulting firm Delcan and released through an access to information request, was for a "cut and cover" approach -- basically digging a trench through a 1.2 km stretch of National Capital Commission-controlled land, putting in the LRT track, and covering it over.

But Deputy City Manager Nancy Schepers said the estimate was preliminary, and less reliable than the $980 million estimate for the full western LRT project.

"That number was based on very high-level, kind of a rule of thumb estimate. It wasn't based on any really detailed analysis," said Schepers Monday. "It could be wildly different depending on the construction techniques we'd have to use, depending on ventilation, depending on a number of other things."

The NCC needs to sign off on any proposal that deals with the 1.2 km of land they own near Rochester Field. The city has been trying to sell the federally appointed board on a compromise that would see 700 metres of the track in a deep trench, covered by a berm.

That wasn't good enough for the NCC, which declared last month that it was underground or nothing. With a tunnel carrying a price tag in the hundreds of millions of dollars, and direction from the city's transportation committee to keep within the $980 million budget, staff have a hard circle to square.

"If the decision and direction was that it'll be completely buried, so the surface would look exactly the same as today ... that would not be able to be done within $980 million," said Schepers.

"However if we continue applying innovation and creativity within the entire project, I think we could find some trade-offs to look at how we might be able to bury more of it and fully integrate it into parkway plans that the NCC is advancing."

Councillors will vote on the preliminary alignment for the Richmond Underground on Wednesday.

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