CALGARY (660 NEWS) – After the initial meeting in December was delayed, a city council committee has finally heard an updated plan for the first stage of the Green Line LRT.
The group discussed the section that covers the southern section of the line–from Shepard up to 16 Avenue, including through the downtown core–in its Tuesday meeting.
The updated plan keeps the LRT underground through the core and has the train surface in Eau Claire. However, this portion of the line has been shortened a little bit.
Administration believes this plan can keep the project on budget while maximizing ridership and providing easy access around downtown.
“It’s the same number of stations and it serves the same areas as the originally-approved alignment but getting rid of that tunnel in the north both makes it cheaper and creates a better rider experience, I believe,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi.
The planned tunnel under the Bow has now been changed to a bridge over the river.
The line touches on 11 Avenue, but despite some speculation, Nenshi says it doesn’t actually have to do with how close to the new arena it will be.
“The difference is that on 11 Avenue, you can run [the line] under the road on city land and you have to buy a lot less private land so it cuts down the cost.”
With the changes made to the original plan, Nenshi says the project will be delivered within the initially-approved budget without the projected 10 per cent overrun. He added the savings found can go to creating “a better bus experience” in Calgary until the next phase of the Green Line is completed.
Underground stations are planned at 7 Avenue S.W., and at 4 Street S.E.
At least one councillor isn’t completely satisfied with the updated plan, though, citing some lingering concerns.
“I’m concerned about how the Green Line would interact with some of the buildings downtown. I am concerned with the design of the bridge, the impact on Prince’s Island and the river pathway, the bluff. Centre Street,” shared Ward 7’s Druh Farrell.
“All of those areas are incredibly sensitive. There’s a community there and there’s beloved green space. And how we design this is extremely important.”
She says she is comforted that some other councillors share her concerns and she’s feeling more confident after Tuesday’s meeting that they can work to resolve those issues. Farrell added that there are a few deal-breakers for her, and she’ll be watching to see how those are dealt with as the project moves forward.
“We need to make sure we get it right.”
Feedback is also being collected from Calgarians, then plan will go up for a vote with the rest of council in March.
-with files from Jeff Slack