Valley Line West, Metro Line Northwest LRT expansions get $1-billion federal cash injection.
(An artist's rendering of the proposed West Valley Line LRT station, outside the Misericordia Hospital on 87 Avenue. )
The federal government stepped up its commitment to transit in Edmonton Monday announcing more than $1-billion to help fund Edmonton’s Valley Line West and Metro Line Northwest LRT expansions.
“In a way it’s odd because the federal government’s leadership on this was to say here is the money, you tell us where you want to spend it. Today we’re confirming an agreement on how to spend that money,” said Mayor Iveson in a Monday statement after at Lewis Farm Transit Centre at Webber Greens Driver and Suder Greeens Drive in west Edmonton.
“That gave us the certainty to plan and that gave us the certainty to work with the provincial government to also confirm long-term commitments.”
François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, was on site to make the announcement of more than $1 billion for both projects through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan, including about $948 million for the Valley Line West LRT and $127 million for the Metro Line Northwest LRT.
“We’re talking about capacity, we’re talking about quality, we’re talking about access to public transit and a green, clean transportation in the city of Edmonton,” said Champagne.
Matt Jeneroux, the federal infrastructure shadow minister and Edmonton Riverbend MP criticized Monday’s announcement as an election year ploy.
“This government has ignored Alberta for the past four years with both Edmonton and Calgary leading the way with some of the highest unemployment numbers across Canada,” Jeneroux said in an email statement Monday. “Announcing infrastructure projects is a way for the federal government to campaign on the taxpayer dime in an election year.”
The province has already committed $1.17 billion towards both projects through the Climate Leadership Plan, including roughly $1.04 billion for the Valley Line West LRT and $131 million for the first phase of the Metro Line Northwest LRT.
The funding announcement comes four days after city council approved a motion to increase the Valley Line West’s budget by $30.5 million.
The city will now work to finalize its municipal funding requirements for both projects and bring them to council for consideration this spring. It will also start the process of securing contractors to extend the Valley Line by 14 kilometres from downtown to Lewis Farms in West Edmonton, and the Metro Line by 1.5 kilometres from NAIT into Blatchford.
The existing Metro Line that runs to NAIT from Churchill station has faced a number of signalling system causing outages and closures on a number of occasions. Iveson said he is confident those issues would be resolved before construction on the extension begins.
“I have no doubt that we’re going to have the signalling issues resolved before the extension is implemented so I don’t see an issue or concern or relationship between the two,” said Iveson.
The city believes it will take about one year to complete design and select a contractor for the Metro Line Northwest LRT extension into Blatchford, with another four years to finish construction and commissioning.
The city estimates it will take about a year to select the contractor for the Valley Line West LRT project, and another five to six years to complete construction.
Construction on both projects is anticipated to begin as early as 2020.