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Calgary’s Green Line alignment decision to be postponed due to coronavirus delays

Calgary will release the Green Line request for proposals (RFP) on the south segment of the line, while north segment hurdles are ironed out.

Coun. Shane Keating, who chairs Calgary’s Green Line Committee, said the coronavirus derailed plans for public engagement on the north section, but they want to be ready post-COVID-19 to get shovels in the ground.

The RFPs on the south construction and light rail vehicles (LRVs) are being held until a decision is made on the final alignment for the north segment.

RELATED: Bridge designs added to Green Line public engagement

That information was to come to an April 23 Green Line meeting. More public engagement was required, particularly with residents in Crescent Heights and Eau Claire. That committee meeting will likely be postponed until June 1.

Keating said administration has always had the ability to move ahead with the RFPs but held off until the north segment was finalized. Given the coronavirus-related delay, they can’t continue to hold off, he said.

“If we sat around and not did much more, then we wouldn’t be ready,” said Keating.

Keating said he believed the contract for the LRVs would be put out for proposal in late May. The construction RFP would come in July.  The contracts won’t be awarded until a final decision is made on the north segment alignment, Keating said.

“Post-COVID-19, this is an essential project,” Keating said, noting that it could put 12,000 people directly and indirectly to work.

Most of the land assembly for the south segment is done. If the RFPs move forward, the city could still meet its target of early 2021 for construction start.

Public engagement pushing meetings back

A public engagement session planned for March 15 in Crescent Heights was cancelled due to the coronavirus. All future in-person sessions were also cancelled. Mass-gathering public health measures made in-person Green Line public engagement impossible.

Further, due to the coronavirus, the city has cancelled all public events until June 30.

Keating said they’re looking at ways to possibly hold the public engagements via online tools like Zoom or Microsoft Team so there’s no continued delay.

He also said they’ve been able to continue discussions with stakeholders in the downtown on a one-to-one basis to iron out some of those areas – including along 11 Avenue, the Rivers District and near where the line will surface in Eau Claire.

What will be left is the public engagement with residents in Crescent Heights. So, he thinks work on the line could theoretically be split into another segment should there be persistent COVID-19 delays.

That middle segment would go from the Elbow River to Eau Claire.

“You have to deal with what you have to deal with,” said Keating.

City confirms the delays

Online public engagement has been extend now to April 30.

The final alignment, public engagement report and the accompanying borrowing bylaws to continue the project will all be brought to the June meeting said Green Line GM, Micheal Thompson.

“Deferring will give us an opportunity to extend the time citizens will have to give feedback and allow the Green Line team to provide an update on areas we are still exploring and respond to stakeholder questions we’ve received,” said Thompson.

Thompson also confirmed the timeline for the release of the RFPs in May and July.

“We are continuing to move this project forward to support Calgary’s economic response and long-term recovery. We want to be ready when Calgary is ready,” Thompson said.