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Tunnel supporters racing clock

Calgary could be closer to getting the Airport Trail Tunnel after aldermen instructed administration to conduct a further planning study on the project.

Calgary could be closer to getting the Airport Trail Tunnel after aldermen instructed administration to conduct a further planning study on the project.

However, supporters are now in a race against time to ensure construction begins on the project before the airport starts building twin runways.

“We now know the cost of boring it afterwards will be more than three times what it is if we get it done before,” said Ald. Jim Stevenson.

Stevenson wants to get as much information as possible on the project in hopes that a new city council will be able to salvage any cut and cover option for building the tunnel. Utilizing that option would put the price tag at around $250 million, said Stevenson, saving the city up to $750 million.

The Ward 3 alderman said he got the result he was looking for, and he will be working on making sure the report is brought before council in November.

Council also instructed administration to continue a northeast road network study, which “will give us some ammunition as to what kind of cost we will incur if the tunnel is not there,” said Stevenson.

Curtis Fernets, a spokesperson for the Airport Trail Access Committee, said he is concerned there is no current traffic plan for when construction shuts down Barlow Trail in April 2011.

He said if the transportation study had been completed earlier, the project would be in better shape, there wouldn’t be such a rush, and we would be prepared for the extra traffic come April.

Fernets said he hopes the tunnel will evolve into an extension of the LRT.