Thursday, September 22, 2016

Green Line committee update – what was approved and what it means

Council’s Transportation & Transit Committee has approved a fully tunneled LRT route in Calgary’s downtown core. This recommendation will now be taken forward to Council on October 3 for a final decision.

Since December 2015, the Green Line team has been studying five possible routes in downtown to find the best way to integrate the Green Line into Calgary’s core, and connect across the Bow River to the communities along Centre Street North. After extensive analysis and public engagement, the fully tunneled option was found to be the best investment in Calgary’s future.

The fully tunneled option would see the Green Line LRT run underground from the Beltline, under 2 Street S.W., and under the Bow River. The line would resurface north of 16 Avenue N along Centre Street N.

Why is underground the best recommendation for Calgary?
While this option requires significant up-front investment, it offers the best opportunities for future generations of Calgarians. It allows us to maintain the pedestrian, cycling and vehicle connections in the core, while enabling future development to occur unhindered in our city’s economic centre.

Consider this:
  • All five options evaluated in the downtown core would require some length of underground tunnel in order to connect with the existing Red and Blue LRT lines. It would not be possible to connect with these lines with a street-level system due to technical challenges with operating three intersecting LRT lines in addition to the existing road network, and the requirement to be under or over Canadian Pacific Railway’s main line.
  • The fully tunneled option enables the road, cycling and pedestrian network to remain intact in downtown.
  • The fully tunneled option reduces potential impacts to Prince’s Island Park and the Bow River valley.
  • The cost of the options varies from $1.5B (street level) to $1.95B (fully tunnelled).
  • The fully tunneled option was highly supported by the public, and stakeholders including Chinatown BRZ, Crescent Heights Community Association, Eau Claire Community Association the, local developers and residents.
What happens next?
The Green Line team will now continue their analysis and public engagement on the route in the Beltline. We are currently reviewing 10 Avenue and 12 Avenue S as potential routes. As per Councillor Woolley’s amendment to the recommendations at Committee, the Green Line team will explore both surface and underground options along both 10 Avenue and 12 Avenue S. A final recommendation for the Beltline is expected to be brought to Committee in December 2016.

Public engagement is ongoing to refine the route in the north, and land use policy planning is now being refined in the southeast. Final recommendations for the full Green Line route alignment will be brought forward by June 2017.

We often get questions about the expected price tag of the Green Line – so we thought we’d provide you with an update on what we know to date.
Where we started: Earlier in the planning process, it was estimated that the Green Line could cost between $4.5 and $5 billion. This estimate was based on per-kilometer costs of past LRT lines in Calgary, and did not include the results of public engagement, a full analysis of land requirements or the recommendation for underground stations. 
Where we are today: As of today, we know that there will be four underground stations and a tunnel in the downtown core. Public engagement and design is ongoing on the route alignment in the Beltline and along the northern portions of the Green Line. Once the route alignment is refined in these areas, cost estimates will be adjusted to reflect the updated route and land requirements.
What’s the deal with funding?
The Green Line will be a long-term investment in Calgary’s future, and will likely be constructed in phases over a number of years. Discussions are currently progressing among all three levels of government.
Federal Government: In July 2015, the Government of Canada announced support for the Green Line for up to $1.53 billion from the Public Transit Infrastructure Fund. The City is currently awaiting application guidelines to be released in order to apply for this funding.
Provincial Government: Funding discussions are ongoing with the Government of Alberta. The City applied for funding through the Province’s Green Transit Incentives Program (GreenTRIP) on August 31, 2016.
Municipal Government: In December 2015, The City committed $1.56 billion over 30 years, contingent on receiving support from the Provincial government.
Stay tuned over the coming months to learn more about the cost estimates as they become further refined. Visit to find out how you can get involved in the public engagement process.

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