Thursday, September 16, 2010
There's been a lot of ink spilled over Jim Watson's big transit announcement Wednesday morning. In fact, Watson's been leaning towards light rail all week. At Monday's OTAG debate, he clearly indicated he was onside with the tunnel plan, provided it can be managed and completed for $2.1-billion. Here's what he said to reporters afterwards:
"I've been very consistent. All I have said is that we've got to keep the costs under control, because a slight variation on the 2.1-billion dollars will put in jeopardy future, other capital projects. I want to see the project go ahead, I want to make sure we don't push another reset button because we did that once under Mr. O'Brien, it cost us over a hundred million dollars. So let's get on with it. We've wasted eight years, over a hundred million dollars, we've studied this now. It should be east-west, it should be with a tunnel, and it should be light rail."
Asked what he'll do if the tenders come in at over $2.1-billion: "I agree with what the mayor said, we need to cut the suit to fit the cloth, because any cost overruns are going to be solely the responsibility of the municipal government, they're not going to be shared by the provincial or federal governments. So it's in our best collective interest that we get our act together on this project, do it right, and make sure that we get this project off the ground."
Watson's claim that he's been consistent on the issue is a bit of a stretch. Just a few months ago, Watson was warning us the city's $900-million share of the project would balloon to $1.4-billion due to cost overruns. Now he says with proper, arm's length management, he'll get it done on budget. The O'Brien team is loving this.
And by the way, I think Watson meant to say "under the ground," but that ship has flown.