A rendering of Surrey’s planned LRT line. (File photo)

Surrey mayor urges province to ‘hurry up’ lest LRT price tag rises

Hepner worries project will get more expensive if province doesn’t sign off on technology

Mayor Linda Hepner says if the province doesn’t sign off on technology for phase two of Surrey’s LRT line, the costs of the already $2.2 billion project may rise.

“We can’t do work on procurement until the province says they agree to the technology choice of the Mayor’s Council,” she told the Now-Leader.

She’s referring to the preferred option for the Fraser Highway portion of the planned 27-kilometre light rail system.

The province has not signed off on whether that line should be SkyTrain or LRT, she said, despite the Mayor’s Council endorsing light rail.

“It’s a technology choice that is stalling some of the procurement…. It’s dragging on a lot longer than I would’ve hoped,” Hepner said. “Right now I think we’ve got everybody on board to get moving and I’m hoping the new Premier and government will endorse the technology choice of the Mayor’s Council.

“It doesn’t matter which technology choice they choose but there will come a time when we need to get going,” she added. “It’s so important because when we go out for procurement for a 10-kilometre system as opposed to the full 27-kilometre system that includes that Fraser Highway line, the costs come in different, the global interest is different… all those pieces that could save us money or make the project more attractive to big on are lost if we don’t have a definitive answer.”

Hepner noted the federal government has given their funds for the entire 27 kilometres of the line and that work can’t even begin on the procurement document until the province decides.

“We’ve made those pleas to hurry up,” she said. “In my mind, that has to be done by the end of this year…. It’s not an easy document. That procurement document will take a long time to get out.”

Minister of Transportation Claire Trevena did not respond to a request for comment by presstime.

Meanwhile, the City of Surrey and TransLink are about to sign an agreement to “affirm their full public commitment” to the first phase of Surrey’s LRT project, the 10.5 kilometre Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT line. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) moves phase one closer to procurement.

Hepner has given her blessing to sign the document, which summarizes the “collective wishes” of the city and the transit authority during the concept phase of the project.

The MOU outlines the joint and individual roles of the City of Surrey and TransLink (read more about the MOU online).

“This is really all about who manages and controls the project,” Hepner explained.

Called the SNG-LRT project, the first phase includes 11 LRT stops, a new LRT operations and maintenance facility and the reconstruction of 104th Avenue and King George Boulevard to accommodate bikes and pedestrians.

Surrey city council approved the “LRT Vision” last February: “Street-oriented LRT will transform Surrey into connected, complete and livable communities, making the city and region more vibrant, accessibly, competitive and sustainable.”

amy.reid@ surreynowleader.com

 

A rendering of Surrey’s planned LRT line. (File photo)