A more detailed examination has pegged the cost of the first step in the city’s future rapid transit network at $2.1 billion, but city officials are confident it can be paid for without burdening property taxpayers or transit riders.
The project was initially estimated at $1.4 billion, but that was before the city had completed engineering studies and determined the alignment of the tunnel and selected the location of the stations. It also did not include the cost of a maintenance yard, property acquisition or a project office. Building the 3.2-kilometre tunnel through downtown and the four underground stations is now expected to cost around $735 million.
Converting the Transitway to rail between Tunney’s Pasture and Blair Station will cost $540 million. A maintenance facility close to OC Transpo’s St. Laurent headquarters and all the trains would cost $515 million. Property acquisition, public art and insurance will account for another $160 million and the project office will be $50 million. On top of that, deputy city manager Nancy Schepers said they’ve built in an extra $100 million contingency.
“There is a thorough analysis behind (these figures) to look at when the money will be spent, what additional money we might need for construction, and how many additional buses we’ll need during construction, because the Transitway will be disrupted,” said Schepers.
Even at $2.1 billion, Bay Ward councillor and chair of the city’s transit committee Alex Cullen said this is still a very affordable project for the city, as long as each level of government funds one-third of the project.
“We have the financial capacity take on our share of $700 million,” Cullen said. “We have a Triple A rating and sufficient gas tax revenues to service any debt and the construction of phase one will not lead to an increase in any property taxes.”
The functional design of the tunnel and the rail line will be revealed at an open house at city hall this evening.