Councillors give OK to full Green Line LRT alignment

Council's transportation and transit committee gave its approval Wednesday to the final alignment and station locations for the multi-billion dollar mega-project.

Two stations — 9th Avenue N. and at 72nd Avenue N. — were dropped from final plan

A rendering of what the underground station at Centre Street and Ninth Avenue North would look, however city administration recommended that station, as well as the station at 72nd Avenue N. be dropped. (City of Calgary/Screenshot)

Calgary city councillors say they're on board with administration's plans for the Green Line LRT.

Council's transportation and transit committee gave its approval Wednesday to the final alignment and station locations for the multi-billion dollar mega-project that will be Calgary's next LRT line.

"It's been a six-year process, but that six years has gone from nothing to 'let's start building'," said Coun. Shane Keating, who has been a prominent advocate for the Green Line.

Coun. Evan Woolley called it a significant decision.

"This is a huge, huge step in terms of our next step of going to the province and saying, 'here is what we want to build.'"

The city has set aside $1.5 billion for the project.  

The federal government has committed a similar amount but the province has said it won't make a formal commitment until it hears precisely what the city wants to build.

Even if the province comes through, the city says $4.6 billion will only pay for approximately 20 kilometres of LRT.

Stage 1 not even half of full Green Line

The first stage of the Green Line will run from 16th Avenue N. to Shepard station in the southeast — where a facility will be built to store and maintain the low-floor light rail vehicles.

Full build-out of the line could be decades away, but the alignment for the entire Green Line was before the committee.

For the final plan, administration recommended that stations be dropped for Ninth Avenue N. and at 72nd Avenue N. Both stops are along the Centre Street section of the train line.

Dropping the two stations will save money. It was deemed that in the final plan, those two stops would be just too close to nearby stations at 16th Avenue and at 64th Avenue.

It turns out the Ninth Avenue station, which would have been underground, would have its station entrance on Centre Street at 12th Avenue — just two blocks away from the 14th Avenue entrance to the 16th Avenue station.

Plan a concern for some

Kyle Mitchell, who lives in Crescent Heights, appeared before the committee to express his disappointment at the Ninth Avenue station being dropped.

He said that while getting to the 16th Avenue station wouldn't be a huge additional walk for some, it would be a problem for others.

"Seniors, people with disabilities, 10-plus minutes is quite a significant barrier," said Mitchell.

The plan to bore a tunnel through the Beltline raised concerns with the owner of a condo in a heritage building.

Brett Jackson lives in the Lewis Lofts on 11th Avenue S., which dates back to 1910. He's worried tunnelling under the building may damage it.

"We think there's potential for obviously structural damage and cosmetic damage, vibration and noise," said Jackson.

Officials said all buildings that might be tunnelled under during construction would be carefully assessed by the city.

Beltline riddle solved

Another change in the Green Line plan is the finalization of how the trains will get through the Beltline to Inglewood.

The plan approved Wednesday will see the Green Line run in a tunnel through downtown under 2nd Street Southwest as far as 12th Avenue. 

It will then head east and after running under the Red Line tunnel by Stampede Park, it will turn northeast to emerge from the tunnel on 10th Avenue.

There will be a surface station at Fourth Street. That stop will give easy access to the fast-developing East Village and be a 600 metres distance from the Saddledome — even closer to a new events centre if it's approved on 12th Avenue.

Stampede ready to saddle up

The Calgary Stampede likes the change. It had previously expressed concerns about a surface LRT line on 12th Avenue creating a barrier to accessing its land.

Roy Wright, who spoke to the committee on behalf of the Stampede, said it supports the new alignment and has no problems with the 10th Avenue station.

"I still think the station on 10th Avenue is walkable. I think it can still function. I think it was a reasonable solution that's come up today," said Wright.

With the committee's approval, the Green Line alignment will go to city council next Monday for a final vote.

Construction of the first stage of the LRT line could start in 2019 or 2020 with opening day in 2026.