Evergreen Line: Staying on track?

Image via Ministry of TranBC via YouTube
Image via Ministry of TranBC via YouTube

Stations near completion, yet line runs over the budget

By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor

TransLink users will soon have an opportunity to take a sneak peak at the Evergreen Line prior to its opening.

On April 25, the public was allowed to go and observe the recently completed Inlet Centre Station, with a test train stopped at the station. Similar viewing are expected to take place in the near future.

“Inlet Centre Station features an innovative design that allows passengers convenient, safe access from each side of Barnet Highway,” Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Peter Fassbender said in a press release. “It also offers a direct view of some of the environmental enhancements that have been developed along the Evergreen alignment, including fish and riparian habitat.”

It is a trend that will be followed by most Evergreen stations. Plazas will be built around the 85 per cent complete stations during the summer, starting in mid-May. These plazas will include bike racks, sitting areas, and public art.

Jacob Bros. Contracting will build these plazas, which will each cost $1.5 million.

Yet the decision to build plazas comes with some backlash, since the transportation project has been already pushed from a summer 2016 to an early 2017 opening.

Negotiations are currently taking place as well to determine where funding for budget overruns will come from. The line was expected to originally cost $1.4 billion, but problems with tunnel boring and sinkholes have added to the budget.

“You know, on a project this complex, there are always things that come up that weren’t anticipated in the early days,” said Fassbender to CTV News. “I know those have been dealt with by the contractor and the project authority. This project will be on time and on budget.”

It has not yet been revealed just how much over the budget the Evergreen Line will be, or if the responsibility for the budget overruns will fall on the provincial government or the construction companies, as the province has maintained that governmental coverage of costs comes with the fixed contract price, and additional costs should be borne by the constructors. This will likely be clarified when the BC Liberals release their 2017 budget.

Still, overall optimism around the Evergreen Line remains high as the line nears completion.

“This construction milestone is bringing us closer to completing the longest transit system in Canada,” said Port Moody-Coquitlam MLA Linda Reimer in a press release. “We’re proud to invest in this project, which will meet the demands of a growing population, provide communities with well-designed public spaces, and connect the Tri-Cities communities to the Metro Vancouver transit network.”