Province to review Calgary’s newly-approved realignment for Green Line LRT

Alberta’s Ministry of Transportation will be doing a “thorough analysis” of the new alignment for Calgary’s Green Line LRT, according to a letter sent to the mayor on Wednesday.

In the letter, Transportation Minister Ric McIver said the Green Line is the biggest infrastructure project in Alberta’s history, meaning the province wants to “ensure that we have properly considered the risks associated with a complex rail line through downtown Calgary.”

“The project has also gone through several significant changes in scope and cost since it was first announced, including the latest version of the project, which was only revealed in the last few weeks, and which we have not had an opportunity to review in detail,” McIver wrote.

Calgary city councillors voted almost unanimously earlier this week to move forward with the new alignment of the first stage of the LRT expansion, which will see trains go from 16 Avenue N to Shepard.

The first phase, which will be constructed in three stages, is significantly different — and shorter — than what was initially proposed, and than what the provincial government committed $1.53 billion to.

McIver said it’s “incumbent” on the province to make sure that money is being “used responsibly.”

“We therefore intend to take the time necessary to complete a thorough and informed analysis of the benefits and risks of this latest version of the project before obligations are incurred by the province, to ensure that taxpayers are protected,” McIver said.

McIver said the ministry is “committed” to seeing the Green Line through, and expects the province’s review to be done this summer. He also said the province will make recommendations on “a path forward that ensures the maximum number of Calgarians are able to benefit.”

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Thursday he’s not surprised by the letter and the province’s intent to review the new plan.

“The spin on this has been that they’re looking to take money away — that is not how I read that,” Nenshi said.

“I read that as, ‘Thanks for making the decision, please send us all the technical documents so we can have our experts read them,’ which is totally not unreasonable in any way.”

Construction of the Green Line is expected to start next year and trains should be moving along the lines by 2026. The project is also expected to create 20,000 jobs.

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