Cost Canadian for new light rail construction.

Zwei has always challenged the Skytrain lobby that modern LRT was much cheaper to build than Skytrain, yet the SkyTrain Lobby still tries to make the cost new LRT construction in the Vancouver Metro area much more expensive than is should be. This intentional ‘gold-plating‘ of modern light rail by the City of Vancouver and TransLink has been so successful in that the SkyTrain lobby fooled the auditor General’s Office with the erroneous claims that SkyTrain can provide more capacity than LRT for about the same cost!

Note to AG’s Office – Capacity is a function of headway and not investment in infrastructure.

In Kitchener Ontario the “starter” 11.8 mile (19 km) long light rail line is estimated to cost CAD $536 million. Put another way, the 19 km starter line will cost about CADAi?? $28.2 million/km to build, which falls right into the cost range of $25 mil./km to $35 mil/km of most recent new built light rail line; except those lines which have been deliberately over-engineered, such as Calgary’s recent construction and Seattle’s expanding hybrid light metro/rail system.

The Waterloo regional government voted Tuesday to invite construction proposals for its 11.8-mile starter light rail line in southern Ontario between Waterloo and Kitchener at an estimated cost of $536 million (USD $514.7 million) and it’s to be built under a public-private partnership [3P], according to The Record, a Kitchener-based newspaper:
“Paige Desmond, Record staff
Tue May 28 2013 16:40:00
Regional council OK’s call for light rail transit proposals

WATERLOO REGION ai??i?? Regional councillors approved issuing a request for proposals to build light rail transit Tuesday ai??i?? but the vote was not unanimous.

Councillors Jean Haalboom and Jane Mitchell voted against.

The request for proposals is the final leap in choosing one of three construction consortia for the estimated $536-million (USD $514.7 million) contract to build light rail in Kitchener and Waterloo.

But Haalboom is still uncomfortable with the region’s decision to pursue a public-private partnership for the project.

“I have always been against the public-private partnership and I’ve seen the reports in London, England, where they get halfway through the projects and private companies walk away from the deal,” Haalboom said.

“Are we the taxpayers in this region left holding the bag to make this up?”

Thomas Schmidt, commissioner of transportation and environmental services, said the deal is set up to protect the region.

Up to 25 per cent of project costs will be held back from the chosen team, to ensure they get the job done.

“If they don’t complete it we will be holding funds back from them,” he said, adding there are provisions built into the contract to protect taxpayers.

Coun. Sean Strickland said while he shares Haalboom’s concerns, he’s confident in the project’s direction and the contract to design, build, finance, operate and maintain light rail that will be awarded.

“I think this is an excellent model,” he said. “I would not question it whatsoever.”

Mitchell has lingering concerns about construction and engineering giant SNC Lavalin being a main partner in one of the consortia.

Two former Lavalin officials are currently facing charges related to bids in North Africa and Montreal.

In April, the company was barred from bidding on Canadian foreign aid projects for a decade. The ban was the result of World Bank sanctions the company agreed to because of the allegations, which have not been proven in court.

Mitchell had previously asked council to have another look at the three consortia because of the SNC controversy.

She said for that reason, she could not support issuing the request for proposals.

“I could not vote for it,” Mitchell said. “I want us to go back to have another look at them but obviously that’s not going to happen.”

The successful construction team will build the 19 kilometres (11.8 miles) of light rail track from Conestoga Mall in Waterloo to Fairview Park mall in Kitchener.

The request for proposals will go out in June.

Unlike the request for qualifications, this document will not be made public until the deal closes sometime next year. It will be censored when it is released.

The region expects it will take about six months to complete the proposal process.

Construction of the light rail system is expected to begin in 2014.

The province has committed $300 million (USD $388.1 million) to help fund the rapid transit project.

The federal government will pay up to $265 million (USD $254.4 million) and the region has budgeted $253 million (USD $242.9 million).

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