Calgary city councillors will discuss a Green Line proposal that would see the current alignment portioned into three contracts.
Initially, the $5.5 billion public transit project was split into two segments – essentially the north portion up to 16 Avenue N and south of the Bow River to Shepard.
This latest version keeps intact the full alignment proposed, with a potential adjustment noted in #5 of the revised recommendation. The city will look at the route through the downtown – either an 11 Avenue route, or one that goes along 10 and 12 Avenue.
Councillors will debate the latest proposal Tuesday afternoon.
Coun. Jyoti Gondek said it makes sense to split up the contracts because of the expertise needed in each area. One needs a bridge builder and the other needs tunneling. The other segment to the south is pretty straightforward.
“Does it make sense to do the procurements and the contracting of those stages together or separately? That’s the big question. I think that was an important point,” Gondek told LiveWire Calgary.
Gondek also said the ability to begin enabling works in earnest on the north portion of the line is critical.
“I will have much more confidence, if this all gets approved today, because then the Green Line committee has been given the authority to focus on the north central part,” she said.
Proponents satisfied with Green Line amendments; ad hoc group said city’s taken ‘meaningful steps’
Project Calgary organizer Peter Oliver said he sees that the new administration proposal allows for the successful execution of the contract and construction.
The area of concern is changing the alignment along the Beltline route. Oliver said to their knowledge the 11 Avenue path is better from a cost-benefit perspective.
Project Calgary published a poll Monday showing a majority of Calgarians support the full Green Line recommendation. Oliver said today’s vote on the new plan is an endorsement of their work.
“The vote before council today will allow us to finally move ahead with the Green Line as planned and put these last-minute pitches to radically diminish or derail the project to bed,” Oliver said.
Jim Gray, on behalf of the Ad Hoc Committe of Calgary citizens, said the city had taken “meaningful steps to reduce risk” on the Green Line project.
“Council has listened, and they appear to be taking some initial steps in the right direction,” said Gray.
“The administrative recommendation to ‘stage-gate’ the first 20 km of the project by breaking it into three segments, allows the people of Calgary to confirm that the project is proceeding in a careful and measured way in light of economic and future ridership uncertainty. It allows for further public input and engagement, a very healthy part of the process when so much is stake.”
The ad hoc group still has significant concerns about the risk of cost overruns with a downtown tunnel.
They also note that the province hasn’t provided clear support in their 90-day clause. The city’s revised plan includes work with the province to secure this.
Split opens up bidding, could lower cost
Coun. Gondek said that the split makes the project more manageable – especially for local contractors. She thinks that will likely mean more bids on each contract.
“My worry is that you would need external, possibly outside of North America, expertise to do both of those pieces together and I would prefer to keep as much money here as possible,” she said.
The additional bids could impact the overall cost of the project, potential making the segments more competitive.
Gondek believes the amended proposal provides more certainty on the northern path than it did before.
“Administration took these suggestions … looked at them and went back and just thought about all of the things that many of us have said, and came back with a set of recommendations that I believe are significantly more robust and provide more certainty,” she said.
Coun. Jeff Davison, one of the councillors who’d signed on to an alternative proposal just prior to the June 1 Green Line meeting, posted his approval of the new plan on Twitter.