$77 million already spent on Surrey LRT planning work

Nov 14 2018, 1:31 am

Various levels of government and TransLink have been spent a combined total of about $77 million on planning work and nearly-awarded and contracted pre-construction projects on the Surrey Newton-Guildford (SNG) light rail transit project.

A new report that has been forwarded to the Mayors’ Council ahead of Thursday’s meeting breaks down the project planning and pre-construction expenditures between 2015 and 2018.

It states nearly all of the $77 million has already been awarded or exercised, which is equal to 4.7% of the entire $1.65-billion project budget.

A total of $7.9 million was spent between 2015 and 2016 for the P3 Canada Business case process of receiving federal funding for the project. This aspect includes a $310,000 contribution from the City of Surrey.

Another $20 million was spent from 2016 to 2018 on the Federal Public Transit Infrastructure Fund application process, with the cost equally split between the federal government and TransLink.

TransLink spent a further $13 million in 2018 on pre-approval project works and planning, including traffic modelling, drafting the master municipal agreement, design refinement, specifications definition, public and First Nations consultation, and finalizing environmental reviews.

An additional expenditure that began this year and was set to continue into 2019 was $7.5 million on the post-approval management of the Request for Qualifications and Request for Proposals bidding processes. This expenditure, borne by TransLink, can be reduced given that the bidding process has been suspended.

As for pre-construction projects, TransLink set aside $29 million, with the public transit authority and federal government splitting the cost.

Construction is now nearly complete on the new Bear Creek Bridge and utilities relocations on 104 Avenue and 105 Avenue, which come to a total cost of $16.4 million. However, TransLink notes that these improvements benefit any future rapid transit project on the Newton and Guildford corridors, as well as the regional Major Road Network.

Additionally, $12.6 million will be spent on the new Guildford Exchange, which was part of the overall SNG LRT construction budget. The project was designed, tendered, and ready to be awarded, and it would provide significant benefits to public transit in Surrey regardless of LRT.

The overall total cost of SNG LRT was $1.65-billion, with the federal government committing $438.8 million and the TransLink committing the remainder.

The TransLink report being considered by the Mayors’ Council this week recommends the elected body to approve the cancellation of SNG LRT and immediately start planning work for the SkyTrain extension to Langley Centre on Fraser Highway and new alternative public transit improvements for the Newton and Guildford corridors.

The public transit authority believes the federal government would allow SNG LRT funding to be redirected towards covering the estimated $2.9-billion cost of the Fraser Highway SkyTrain extension.

“As these expenditures were all part of the $1.65B Capital Project envelope approved in the Phase Two Investment Plan, the remaining funding capacity is about $1.58B which in principle could be redirected subject to business case approvals by the region and senior governments,” reads the report.

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