Calgary’s hotly anticipated west LRT line will indeed open on Dec. 10, city officials confirmed Wednesday, putting the mega-project back on its original schedule and just slightly over budget.
“This takes our LRT system to a whole new level,” Mac Logan, the city’s general manager of transportation, said at the new Sunalta station.
The city’s first-ever elevated station is the easternmost of six new stations along eight kilometres of additional track, extending rail service westward from downtown to 69th Street.
Logan said the massive project, which involved three million man-hours of labour, is shaping up to come in just $35 million over the initial $1.4-billion budget.
The city expects 30,000 people to use the new line on opening day. The average commute time from downtown to the 69th Street station is estimated at 12 minutes.
Ald. John Mar’s ward also includes a section of the line, and he believes the project will be well worth the cost.
“This is going to have a huge impact and I think it’s going to be worth every single dollar,” he said.
Joanna Stathonikos is excited about the new line and plans to use it almost every day to commute to work and university. The Coach Hill resident said each commute currently takes her about 45 minutes by bus.
“It’s going to be quicker because there’s not going to be traffic on Bow Trail,” she said. “I’ve been waiting for this for over a year, since I moved up there.”
Ald. Richard Pootmans, whose ward also includes a section of the line, marvelled at the “spectacularly beautiful” Sunalta station.
“This station is built to last us 100 years,” he said. “It’s cost-effective to do it this way, rather than build something that will not last the test of time.”
Looking down the line:
- The city plans to host a “public opening” to show off the new line and stations on Dec. 8, ahead of the beginning of fare service on Dec. 10.
- More than 1,700 new trees are being planted along the new LRT line.
- The city also plans to introduce a bus rapid transit service between Westbrook Station, Heritage Station and Mount Royal University, Ald. Brian Pincott said.