If the airport tunnel were Frankenstein, storm clouds would be building and lightning ready to bring the massive infrastructure project back to life.
Two years after the Airport Trail tunnel was in danger of being shelved for good, the city and Calgary Airport Authority yesterday announced a $90-million partnership that will put the transportation link one step closer to reality.
Roughly one-third of the estimated $287-million project — connecting Airport Trail to Metis Trail via tunnel — has been put up, and now it’s up to the feds and the province to pony up the additional cash, said Ward 3 Ald. Jim Stevenson.
Stevenson, who has been instrumental in leading the charge for the project’s resurrection since he was elected two years ago, said the agreement was a huge reversal of fortune.
“I was turned down over and over again — and of course the mayor fought me on it for the first year,” said Stevenson, adding that pressure from community associations, businesses and area citizens helped sway the airport authority — and ultimately the mayor — to move forward on the project.
“It’s really the mayor that has turned this thing around. The mayor’s really led the pace on this.”
Inclusion in the city’s Plan-It document was the first indication the tunnel could see progress, but until the ink dried on the agreement, Stevenson wasn’t always sure a deal would be worked out. And now, the feds and the province will be asked to cough up $98.6 million each by March 1.
“I think that the feds and the province will realize what a critical piece of Canadian infrastructure this is,” Stevenson said.
Grant Galpin of the Airport Trail Access Committee described his initial reaction as “ecstatic.”
“We’re very pleased to take a major step forward and feel like both the airport authority and the city have realized how critical this tunnel link is in the long-term future,” said Galpin.
According to a release, the city will design and build the tunnel and then take over maintenance when the tunnel is complete.