Monthly Column: On the right track with light rail
This month I am very pleased to tell you that on July 14th City Council voted unanimously to adopt a realistic and affordable light rail plan that meets our $2.1 billion budget.
People have told me time and again that it’s time we stopped the dithering on light rail on got shovels in the ground. This new plan does just that, and in a way we can be proud of.
Let me highlight some of the major improvements with this light rail plan:
- We have chosen a new tunnel alignment that is significantly closer to the surface and runs under Queen Street.
- The shallower tunnel accomplishes two very important things.
- It reduces the risk of cost overruns and also reduces the estimated cost for the entire project to the original price tag of $2.1 billion even after inflation is factored in.
This is great news for our taxpayers who have, understandably, worried about costs.
With this new plan, we will also be able to acquire a fixed-price contract that puts the responsibility on those building the tunnel to get it done on time and on budget.
This Council is making good decisions to ensure the financial security and operational ability of the light rail project. We intend to have shovels in the ground by 2013 and the first trains running from Blair Rd. through the downtown tunnel to Tunney’s Pasture by 2018.
Building this light rail network in Ottawa is the single biggest city building project undertaken since the Rideau Canal and it’s imperative that we do it right.
This first phase is the most important one because we are building the foundation that will allow for expansion to the west, east and south as our city continues to grow.
With this new and improved light rail plan, Ottawa is on the right track and that’s something we can all be proud of.
As always, I look forward to hearing your feedback and wish you and your family a very safe and happy summer.