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Green Line LRT | ?m | ?s | Calgary Transit

MichaelS

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Also airports are like subways to the sea. https://humantransit.org/2009/12/on-subways-to-the-sea.html

“Ultimately, lots of people love the idea of a subway to the sea for the same reason they like the idea of a subway to the airport — because they can imagine using it occasionally. This can yield a disconnect between the political popularity of a service and its actual ridership potential.”
Sounds like a train to Banff.....
 

Social Justice

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I really hope this project doesn't fall apart.
I've heard a lot of people that are part of this project are pissed.

There's nothing wrong with doing value engineering. However, to do it at this stage of the game...right before tender...after all the community consultations and open houses. It's madness.
 

darwink

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Unless you think there is a serious risk of a failed procurement because you can’t transfer the risk at a price you are willing to pay.
 

zagox

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Unless you think there is a serious risk of a failed procurement because you can’t transfer the risk at a price you are willing to pay.
Very true, but surely the owner's team had the results of the geotechnical investigations and the recommendations of their front-end engineering consultants for a long time now. It seems like the owners' team waited until they were into the constructibility reviews just before finalizing the RFQ to decide to pull the plug on the long tunnel. I'm sure that lacking a project director for the better part of 6 months didn't help, but it doesn't reflect well on the entire project team to have failed to see / believe / understand what the ground conditions meant for construction risk, until the last minute.
 

O-tac

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Gee I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that our Provincial government scrapped the carbon tax which was going to fund it? Now their friends are coming out of the woodwork to tell us that it’s too expensive and risky to build after a decade of study and 2 years after it was approved. This is just Kenney's pals muddying the waters for when he drops the axe on it.

 

darwink

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Very true, but surely the owner's team had the results of the geotechnical investigations and the recommendations of their front-end engineering consultants for a long time now. It seems like the owners' team waited until they were into the constructibility reviews just before finalizing the RFQ to decide to pull the plug on the long tunnel. I'm sure that lacking a project director for the better part of 6 months didn't help, but it doesn't reflect well on the entire project team to have failed to see / believe / understand what the ground conditions meant for construction risk, until the last minute.
They might have not internalized how council would react to all the bids coming in 100% more for the tunnel section if there was no risk transfer, or hadn't connected the dots of the delays/risks in Ottawa with private sentiment around risk transfer. The switch from a full P3 to their split up design build model has something to it too. There is less incentive on the back end to complete the project on the front end if big cost overruns are experienced - there are plenty of situations where the design builder would find it better to walk away than to complete the project.
 

CBBarnett

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As a mere urbanist gentleperson with minimal formal training and experience in transportation infrastructure design, procurement and tunneling, forgive me if I summarize these events but just want to fact check what I understand to be happening:
  • Through the engagement and design stage, underground alignment was extended and expanded from the high-level concepts, resulting in a relatively deep-bored tunnel. Acknowledging that parts of downtown were always going to be tunneled (i.e. CPR, 9th and 7th Avenues in particular, plus any curves or portals needed)
  • The perception of increased difficulty and cost comes from two sources: the length of the tunnel and the number of underground stations and the poor ground conditions. Depth of the tunnel is a factor but it's largely the stations and length that are the cost drivers?
  • The procurement model and recent drama is all related to the realization that these cost drivers have made it unlikely to be able to complete within the budget envelope as provided, especially given the uncertainty of the downtown section and the goal of reducing public risk through the procurement model
Further complicating is the actions of Councillors, the project team and others of late. We also (of course) have the "grumpy rich old white men" contingent and a new provincial government that seems more keen than previous ones to interfere with Calgary decisions through funding strings directly on this project. More locally, the decision to consider the SE leg done and ready for RFP has caused a rift and uproar as it leaves the core section solely exposed to political interference about the orientation, quality and performance of the core section. I get why this was done to split the segments and keep project inertia, but it would be hard to justify the SE Greenline at all if it doesn't have a quality downtown connection, as it's the only area of substantial transit-supportive job and residential density along the alignment (not a great reality for a transit project).

Given all these new constraints and realizations, I would be happy if we saw an at grade track north of 4th Avenue and a bridge over the river and as shallow as possible cut-and-cover through downtown, under the CPR tracks and emerging on the surface along 12th Avenue SW before Macleod if that was possible. Move the Victoria Park Station to 12th Ave and 4th SE, then replace the Macdonald Bridge into Ramsay with an LRT bridge and continue that way into the SE alignment. I think Calgary has a poor understanding of what low-floor, ground level LRT can be and do - largely due to our bias to look at local examples of our LRT streets. With good quality street improvements and dedicated spaces, these trains can be fast, efficient and a benefit to the urban realm, rather than a barrier like so much of what we have built.

Of course, that would require the rethinking of so many deeply ingrained biases we have in the public and professional discourse around this project and LRT in general. Transit projects only seem expensive because it's paying for the whole grade separation, while the benefit of grade separation is split between roads and transit. If we gave transit full priority at every signal, every time, as much space as it needs on downtown roads, and some of the mandatory grade separation the project would be more manageable. Go full on best-practice at-grade urban LRT as opposed to this hybrid weird low-floor suburban focuses, semi-metro deep tunnel thing.

TL,DR:
The Greenline can be a good project, but without a serious effort (and the cost) to do the downtown section "right" it'll be left wanting and be reflected in poor ridership and a failure to trigger a new transit-oriented resurgence in Calgary. The rest of the route is too weak and long-term on it's own. The core needs to be done correctly. If tunnelling is too difficult/expensive then let's get creative and actually design a high quality, at-grade low-floor LRT. To achieve a similar service quality, capacity and efficiency this will require a substantial reallocation of car-dominated spaces in the inner city which is fine IMO.
 

Chinook Arch

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I see in social media some councilors have brought up the original idea of having the north leg of the Green line go through Nose Creek. Yeah, it might be cheaper, but I don't like that idea at all.
 

UrbanWarrior

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The crazy pills continue... smh.
 

ByeByeBaby

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The Deerfoot alignment will substantially drop LRT service for three of the four legs of the existing system substantially, because it takes 7th St from two LRT lines to three, so it'll displace NE trains and most likely also red line trains. The West is the only leg that would see more service, but it's ridership is half the NW and NE and a quarter the S, so that's useless.

The only way a Nose Creek alignment won't substantially cut LRT service to 90% of the existing C-Train users is to build the Stephen Ave subway, which I think is badly needed, but of course that means building a brand new not-yet-designed billion+ dollar tunnel in the downtown, to avoid building a largely designed billion+ dollar tunnel in the downtown.
 
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