Construction is officially underway on a new Bus Rapid Transit line in southeast Calgary.

Crews will be ripping up 17th Avenue S.E. between 28th Street and Hubalta Road as part of phase one of the project. The line will eventually extend into downtown across three new bridges.

Finance Minister Joe Ceci says he's pleased to see construction begin after pushing for it for years when he was a city councillor.

"I'm really proud as a representative of this area that started this back in 2008, 2006, coming to fruition … the roadway will be better, emissions are going to be down as a result of this," he said.

Along with building the dedicated bus lanes the first phase of the project also involves resurfacing the road, widening sidewalks and landscaping boulevards. 

Connecting people to jobs

Three new transit-only bridges will be built across the Bow River, Western Headworks Canal and Deerfoot Trail as part of Phase Two.

The initial phase of the project is being funded through $64 million from the provincial government's Green Transit Incentives Program and $30 million from the City of Calgary. The second phase received $21.25 million from the province and $42.5 million from the federal government. 

Alison Karim McSwiney, the head of the International Avenue Business Revitalization Zone, said the dedicated bus lanes will help to better connect people to their jobs. 

"I think it's going to be one of the most beautiful parts of the city. We already have million dollar views, this is just going to make it so we have a million dollar road."

Both phases of the project are expected to be completed by the end of 2018.

With files from Colleen Underwood