New plans could jeopardize the heart of Calgary’s Green Line as the City announces its intention to reconsider the Downtown and Beltline Green Line LRT alignment.
Read below to find out more about the plans and how you can help.
Green Line Phase 1 to be split into two construction contracts
Last week the City’s Green Line team presented their quarterly update to City Council where they recommended splitting Phase 1 of the project into two construction contracts with one for the Downtown/Beltline and a second for the Southeast leg from Inglewood to Shepard.
According to a City news release, the Green Line team is now reconsidering the Downtown and Beltline alignment and looking for “ways to shorten the tunnel and bring as much to surface as possible” while at the same time still proceeding full-steam ahead with the Southeast leg and releasing the Request for Quotation (RFQ) to industry to bid on the project starting at the end of the month, even though the RFQ for the Southeast leg could be postponed until 2021 without impacting the overall completion date of the Green Line Phase 1.
City of Calgary Green Line team’s proposed plan for splitting the Downtown/Beltline and Southeast portions of the Green Line Phase 1.
Downtown and Beltline now facing cost-reduction tradeoffs alone
City of Calgary rendering of Beltline underground station entrance now at risk of being scrapped
The City’s Green Line team is now reconsidering the alignment of the Downtown and Beltline portions of the Green Line for cost reductions in order to stay within the $4.9B budget for Phase I of the Green Line. However, if the City were to proceed as proposed with the immediate release of the RFQ for the Southeast leg of the Green Line, all cost-reductions for Phase 1 would have to be borne by the Downtown/Beltline section while the Southeast section would be outside of the scope of any cost tradeoff consideration without the risk of significant contractor penalties.
According to the City’s construction plan, the RFQ for the Southeast leg could be postponed until 2021 without impacting the overall completion date of the Green Line Phase I.
The City must postpone the RFQ for the Southeast line until all cost tradeoffs are understood
Given that the RFQ of the Southeast line can be postponed until 2021 without impacting the overall completion date of Phase 1 of the Green Line, it’s financially prudent that City of Calgary postpone the RFQ until all possible cost tradeoffs have been considered to meet the project budget.
If the City is to reconsider the very heart of the Green Line in Calgary’s Downtown and Beltline then there are several other important considerations that should also be evaluated if we are to ensure that Calgary’s largest ever infrastructure investment is the best it can be.
We should consider the economic impacts of any cost-reductions to the Green Line in Downtown Calgary and the Beltline
Calgary’s Downtown and Beltline have for years carried about 30% of Calgary’s overall tax revenue. Their success is critical to Calgary’s economic well-being, as evidenced by the dramatic impact of the downtown “tax shift” on businesses and homeowners throughout the city, which is the result of falling property values in the Centre City.
City of Calgary graph of Calgary’s tax revenue contributions by area showing the significant contribution from the City Centre.
The alignment that Council previously adopted was partly the result of years of public engagement and conversations with businesses and land owners. Developers, businesses, and residents Downtown and in the Beltline came together with unprecedented support for the current underground alignment. Now that is all at risk. Calgary can’t afford to get this wrong.
We should consider the economic benefits of building Airport LRT to Downtown sooner
Under the current Green Line phasing plan, Airport LRT to Downtown could still be decades away
If we are to reconsider the heart of the Green Line in Downtown and Beltline for cost considerations, then we should also consider the significant economic benefits of an Airport LRT connection to Downtown Calgary sooner if we were to construct the North section before the Southeast as part of Phase 1 of the Green Line.
Under current Green Line phasing plan, Airport LRT to Calgary’s $500M BMO Convention Centre expansion could still be decades away
Airport LRT via the North Central Green Line would bring much needed stimulus sooner to Calgary’s Downtown economy and new $500M investment in Calgary’s new BMO Convention Centre expansion.
We should consider prioritizing sections of the Green Line with the highest ridership to address the Green Line’s deficit operating costs
Only after approving the alignment for Phase 1 of the Green Line from 16 Avenue North to Shepard in Calgary’s Southeast did Council find out that the Green Line’s $40 million/year operating costs would not be covered with the expected ridership when it opens in 2026.
Green Line Q4 2018 update to City Council indicating $40M operating costs of Green Line Phase 1 will not be funded by initial ridership
In 2015, Calgary Transit stated that the North-Central Line is already at capacity and warrants a better rapid transit solution along Centre Street, but that the transit ridership in the deep southeast was poor.
City of Calgary May 2017 slide showing the North and Centre City populations dwarfing the Southeast opening day and future populations.
More recent analysis has also demonstrated that the North line has higher average population density than the Southeast and higher projected ridership.
Prioritizing building the north section of the Green Line before the Southeast leg may better offset the high $40 million/year operating burden of the new line with greater revenues from higher ridership.
Help save the Green Line Downtown and Beltline underground alignments!
Let’s make sure that City Council takes the time to make sure Calgary's largest ever infrastructure investment is also Calgary’s best.
1) Ask your City Councillor to postpone the Southeast RFQ contract so we can get the Green Line right
Contact your City Councillor and ask them to postpone the RFQ for the Southeast contract so that all cost trade-offs can be evaluated for the entire line, not just the Downtown and Beltline. The RFQ for the Southeast can be postponed until 2021 without any impact on the Green Line Phase 1 completion date.
2) Help spread the word and share this post!
Let’s get the message out to everyone. Help spread the word by sharing this post with your friends.