A $45-million light-rail transit tunnel to be built north of City Hall has received initial approval after a city committee endorsed the project yesterday.
The tunnel is part of the northern LRT route to NAIT, passing under the future Epcor tower near 101 St. and 104 Ave., where construction began earlier this month.
Bob Boutilier, the city’s transportation manager, said he doesn’t believe the tunnel can be built if it isn’t integrated into the Epcor building’s design and construction.
“This is an opportunity to save our right-of-way on a line we know we’re going to build, on an alignment that’s been approved,” he told the transportation and public works committee. “This just seems like a good deal.”
If the city waits to approve the project until after the Epcor tower is built, he said, it would cost an additional $140 million to dig below the new tower as a separate project.
The future Grant MacEwan LRT station would also have to be
built underground since tunnelling would have to be extended farther out from the building.
The $42-million figure, however, only funds 180 metres of the tunnel structure directly beneath the future Epcor tower.
Building the project will require $35 million in debt-financing and city council’s final approval.
A finalized project cost for the entire tunnel will be presented to the transportation committee June 24.
The concept plan for the full northern LRT line, passing the MacEwan campus and Kingsway Garden Mall before stopping at NAIT, will be discussed by council in July.
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