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LRT expansion should start now, report says

If the city is to have expansive LRT lines built by 2017, they need to start the process now.

If the city is to have expansive LRT lines built by 2017, they need to start the process now.

That’s the message general manager of transportation Bob Boutilier was sending yesterday as his department made its report on fast-tracking the LRT expansion public.

The transportation committee prepared a report, which provides strategies and identifies the challenges associated with fast-tracking LRT construction for the NAIT, southeast and west lines by 2016.

The goal is to have the 30 kilometres of lines finished for the potential Expo in 2017, and the report highlights the role that other levels of government can play in achieving that goal.

“We can meet the 2017 Expo date, it’s doable. The big issue is how are we going to do it?”

Boutilier said. “This would be the largest single capital expenditure the city has ever done, in terms of a single project. Put it in order of magnitude, that’s basically the entire capital budget for several years consumed by this.”

The scenarios presented in the report are based on city money being used for one-third of the project over a period of 26 years — six years of project development and construction and 20 years of debt repayment.

The entire project will cost about $5.8 billion over the 26 years with the city’s portion being just less than $2 billion. Boutilier said a tax levy or a redistribution of current grant money could cover the city’s cost.

“Anything between one and two per cent tax levy would probably cover a lot or most of the city’s contribution,” he said. “That’s a decision that council will have to make because there are other things we have to do in the city.”

Boutilier said LRT fares would not be raised to help offset the city’s cost.

The report will be discussed in committee meetings Tuesday.

 
 
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