During a press conference this morning, Premier John Horgan announced construction on the SkyTrain Millennium Line Broadway Extension to Arbutus Street is on schedule to begin this fall.
Plans for the SkyTrain extension reached a milestone in July, when the provincial government announced it selected the private consortium led by Spanish infrastructure engineering firm Acciona and Italian tunnelling company Ghella to design, build, and partially finance the project.
“Major infrastructure projects like the Broadway Subway are key to our economic recovery,” said Horgan. “When completed, it will transform Vancouver, bringing people from one end to the other.”
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The project cost is $2.83 billion, with the provincial government contributing $1.8 billion, the federal government with $888 million, and the City of Vancouver providing $100 million in value from the required city-owned land for the subway stations. The contract value with the private consortium is $1.728 billion.
“The Broadway Corridor is the second largest employment centre in British Columbia with more than 85,000 jobs,” said Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart.
“So many residents are stuck in traffic or waiting for overcrowded buses. The Broadway Subway will change all this by providing fast and reliable transit that can get people to work on time with fewer headaches. The people of our region who come to Broadway deserve a fastest commute with less congestion and less hassle so that they can spend more time earning a living and with people they love.”
Stewart also noted how the municipal government’s forthcoming Broadway Plan, catalyzed by this SkyTrain project, will catalyze new homes along the corridor, especially rental housing that will be affordable to working people.
In June, three trolley bus routes that normally operate on at least a portion of the construction route along Broadway began a temporary re-route to new permanent trolley lines installed along segments of West 12th Avenue and West 4th Avenue. Significant segments of the trolley lines on Broadway have already been dismantled in preparation for construction.
The 99 B-Line will continue to operate on Broadway, and the No. 9 Alma/Boundary will also stay on the route using diesel buses.
The affected trolley bus routes will return to Broadway in 2025, when the subway is scheduled to reach completion and open.
The 5.7-km-long project is a seamless extension of Millennium Line from the existing terminus at VCC-Clark Station.
There will be six new underground stations located at the intersection of Great Northern Way and Thornton Street, and where Broadway intersects with Main Street, Cambie Street, Laurel Street (Vancouver General Hospital), Granville Street, and Arbutus Street.
Although the extension will be built using two tunnel boring machines, some cut-and-cover construction will be necessary at city blocks where stations are located. At least two travel lanes in each direction will be maintained in the areas where surface construction is necessary. In all other areas, there will be three travel lanes in each direction. Curbside lanes in each direction will be turned into 24/7 bus-only lanes.
A 750-metre length of elevated track will be built in the False Creek Flats from VCC-Clark Station to the pit for Great Northern Way Station, which will double as the starting point for the tunnel boring machines.
The station at Cambie Street will be fully integrated with the Canada Line’s existing Broadway-City Hall Station, with underground passageways providing passengers with the ability to seamlessly transfer between the Canada Line and Millennium Line platforms.
From the new westernmost terminus station at Arbutus Street, passengers will continue the remaining journey to UBC on a truncated 99 B-Line. While the extension does not reach UBC, the Arbutus Street end of the project will be designed in a way that accommodates a continuous extension to the campus, which is envisioned in the third phase of the Mayors’ Council’s expansion plan.
The end-to-end journey time on the section of new rail between VCC-Clark Station and Arbutus Station is just 11 minutes, down from the current time of 40 minutes by bus during busy peak periods. A one-train ride, without any transfers, from VCC-Clark Station to Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station is about 47 minutes.
Trains will depart about every three minutes during peak periods.
“I know this will be a real game changer for Vancouver,” said Michel Ladrak, president and general manager of BC Rapid Transit Company, the TransLink subsidiary that operates SkyTrain. “When I’m looking at the benefits, I’m confident this project will help to keep the building moving, with fast, frequent, and convenient travel. It will relief crowding and congestion in a critically important economic centre of the region.”
With new additional SkyTrain cars, the capacity of the Millennium Line will increase to 7,000 passengers per hour per direction (pphpd), which is three and a half times the capacity of the existing buses on Broadway. The Millennium Line’s capacity can be increased to well over 20,000 pphpd in the future with the acquisition of additional trains.
Approximately 140,000 boardings per day are expected along the extension upon opening. In contrast, the 99 B-Line sees an average of 57,000 boardings daily.
Provincial crown corporation Transportation Investment Corporation will work with the private consortium to lead the delivery of the project on behalf of the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. When complete, the extension will be handed over to TransLink for operations.