In 1983, a vision for a light rail transit (LRT) line running to the southeast of Calgary was introduced.
With over three decades of various opinions and takes on the matter, the much needed project was finally announced. While there are still a few obstacles before this finally becomes a reality, today the Green Line seems closer than ever before.
Once constructed, the Green Line will nearly double the size of Calgary’s current LRT network.
The new line will span a distance of more than 40 kilometers running from the central north part of the city, near the community of Harvest Hills, to the southeast district of Seton, include 28 stops and is estimated to serve 41 million passengers annually.
As compared to existing Red and Blue lines, the Green Line will include “modern low-floor trains” with approximately 300 mm curb height as opposed to 900 mm currently in place.
With the estimated cost of the project nearing $5 billion, representing a single largest public infrastructure investment in Alberta’s history, the Green Line does have some challenges ahead.
The two main questions to be addressed before the construction hits the ground include getting the provincial funding finalized and the purchasing of private lands for the southeast leg.
In December 2015, City Council approved a plan to extend its current 10-year commitment of $52 million per year to 30 years, bringing the City’s total commitment to $1.56 billion. The federal government has already committed $1.53 billion and if the province matches the commitment that will bring the total amount to just over $4.5 billion. The funding for the project is now waiting on the Alberta government.
According to the Calgary Sun, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said at a February press conference the City is “well aware of the financial constraints that the province finds itself under and we also know that this is a project that is three times larger than the previous largest public works project in Calgary’s history.
“So, we got to get it exactly right and as much as I’d like the prime minister and the premier to each show up with a cheque for $1.75 billion that I could cash tomorrow at the ATM, it’s likely not that realistic.”
In response, Transportation Minister Brian Mason, also at the press conference, said, “We are striving to find a way to help the City of Calgary with all its transportation needs – including the Green Line.”
Construction is planned to begin in June of 2017 with a tentative completion in 2024.