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City responds to LRT cost claim

There was quite a bit of chatter at Ottawa City Hall this morning about this story by Le Droit's man at Ottawa City Hall, Fran├žois Pierre Dufault. The story refers to a September, 2008 document from the Transport Minister obtained through access to information in which the cost of the first phase of the city's LRT project is pegged at $2.1 to 2.8-billion. At the time, the official cost estimate was $1.8-billion, and the deputy city manager overseeing the project, Nancy Schepers, was quite open about the fact that the figure could grow by 25 per cent.

Anyway, here's how the city responded to the article:

"The Phase 1 referred to in the article is a Transportation Master Plan (TMP) term that denotes multiple transit projects including: Blair to Tunney's LRT with tunnel in the downtown (current project), Tunney's to Baseline LRT (Western Corridor), and several BRT projects. The TMP estimate for this phase was $3.03B.  The current project - Blair to Tunney's with a tunnel in the core - is increment one of Phase 1.  In total there are three increments of Phase 1.

The email originating from the federal official was likely referring to the different options that were outlined in the TMP update that explored alternative implementation phasing for the entire transit network.

The current projects $2.1B dollar cost estimate was developed as part of the functional design in late 2009 and was approved by Council in January 2010.  At no time has there been any internal or external communications that indicates that the estimate is, or has ever, been higher.

 The project cost estimate is not going up. The preliminary engineering team (comprised of industry experts from around the world) has been directed to design a system that matches the $2.1B cost estimate. So the cost estimate that will be presented to Council in July 2011 will be $2.1B or under."

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