All work being conducted by TransLink on the Surrey Newton-Guildford (SNG) light rail transit (LRT) project has been suspended effectively immediately.
The extended Request For Qualifications (RFQ) bidding process that sought qualified private contractors to design, build, and operate the SNG LRT has also been suspended. Any work to continue the project depends on a decision by TransLink’s Board of Directors and the Mayors’ Council.
TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond announced the decision in a released statement late this evening, shortly after the new Surrey City Council unanimously passed a motion to oppose the $1.65-billion SNG LRT project on 104 Avenue and King George Boulevard.
Instead, the City of Surrey’s new official position is to advance a 16-km-long, eight-station SkyTrain extension along the Fraser Highway from King George Station to Langley Centre.
However, the final decision to move forward with a SkyTrain project on the Fraser Highway corridor lies with the Mayors’ Council, which is expected to thoroughly discuss the matter during the inaugural Mayors’ Council meeting schedule for November 15.
Here is Desmond’s full statement:
In light of the resolution passed by the City of Surrey council we are pausing work on the Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT Project and suspending the RFQ process while we await direction from the Mayors’ Council and the TransLink Board.
We are committed to improving rapid transit in Surrey and Langley and we look forward to working with the Mayors’ Council, the City of Surrey, and the City and Township of Langley to advance the best options for the people south of the Fraser and the entire region as quickly as possible.
The approval of the Phase Two Investment Plan sparked the largest investment in transit and transportation in Metro Vancouver’s history and we are continuing to build on that momentum to deliver unprecedented increases to transit service. The implementation of the rest of Plan will continue at the same time as the discussion about options for delivering rapid transit south of the Fraser proceeds.
TransLink works closely with the communities we serve and we will continue to work closely with all of the communities south of the Fraser throughout this process to work towards improved transportation options, including rapid transit, new B-Lines, and added bus service.
Late last month, upon the request of prospective bidders due to concerns over the project’s cancellation, TransLink’s initial move following the election of the new City Council was to extend the deadline for RFQ submissions from October 31 to December 19.
Up until around 2010, TransLink’s plans for rail rapid transit improvements in the South of Fraser leaned towards extending existing SkyTrain infrastructure, but planning veered towards street-level LRT after the last two Surrey City Councils favoured an economic development plan that largely revolved around building surface rail.