Budget for Surrey LRT climbs to $2.6 billion

$500-million jump in estimated price driven by rising land costs, low Canadian dollar

The price tag for Surrey’s planned light rail transit system is now estimated at $2.6 billion, up from the $2.14-billion estimate that Metro Vancouver mayors used during last year’s transit tax referendum.

The jump is due to a series of inflationary factors, from the rising costs of land and LRT vehicles to the low Canadian dollar making imports more expensive, according to Paul Lee, rapid transit and strategic project manager for the City of Surrey.

“Land is a huge component,” Lee said, citing the rapid climb in real estate prices in the region.

“It’s a real worry. Land value is going up so fast. If we don’t start construction until 2018, it will be another two years. You get nervous.”

The Surrey LRT project consists of 27 kilometres of street-level light rail lines radiating out of City Centre along 104 Avenue, King George Boulevard and down Fraser Highway to Langley City.

Lee also noted the $2.14-billion estimate adopted by the mayors’ council in 2014 was based on work done by TransLink as far back as 2012.

“That cost was very dated,” Lee said. “By the time the mayors’ council put it up there were questions on it.”

More design work has since been done and there’s a better idea of what land acquisitions will be needed to accommodate sidewalks, landscaping and other components.

In some cases, Lee said, longer station platforms are now envisioned to potentially handle longer trains – increasing the land requirement.

He cautioned that project estimates are a guide for planning but final costs depend on what contractors actually bid.

“We’d rather err on the high side than get a shock in the end.”

The new estimate was contained in a March 7 City of Surrey staff report outlining infrastructure projects seeking federal funding.

Surrey spearheaded the project initially, first applying for federal funding in 2014.

TransLink staff are now preparing business cases for both Surrey LRT and the Broadway SkyTrain extension in Vancouver.

Lee said he expects that to be complete sometime later this year.

He hopes for a construction start as soon as early 2018.

Officials will take a close look at project costs and consider options to reduce costs.

“We may shrink the road a bit, we may narrow the pavement a bit, we may forgo things here and there. We want to minimize the land cost,” Lee said.

The section of line on 104 Avenue will now terminate at 152 Street, he added, instead of 156 Street.

Canadian Taxpayers Federation B.C. director Jordan Bateman said the original LRT estimate wasn’t believable.

“TransLink and the mayors were using old numbers in the plebiscite to hoodwink people into voting Yes,” he said.

Bateman said he’s surprised land acquisition costs are a problem.

“Part of the reason I thought they were looking at light rail was because Surrey has pretty substantial road right-of-ways.”

Bateman said he expects the planned Broadway subway and the Pattullo Bridge projects will also face cost increases, for similar reasons.

Metro mayors and provincial government officials hope more generous federal contributions than in the past will reduce the amount of money that must be raised locally.

The LRT project has faced steady criticism from some transit advocates who argue a SkyTrain extension in Surrey would be better choice.

“We’re now seeing higher costs,” said SkyTrain For Surrey‘s Daryl Dela Cruz. “Are we really providing the kind of value that LRT is supposedly all about?”

Just Posted

Heritage Surrey launches time-lapse mapping tool

It matches local historical images to modern-day locations

UPDATE: Delta man charged in stabbing of woman, off-duty cop outside North Delta elementary school

Manoj George, 49, is facing two counts of aggravated assault and two counts of assault with a weapon after the incident on Wednesday, Feb. 20.

Surrey RCMP asks for public’s help finding missing 52-year-old

Police say William Michaels last seen on Feb. 19

Private school for hockey players pitched for Surrey’s Excellent Ice arena

Lark Group draws up expansion plan for facility built and operated by the Surrey company since 1999

From a drunk judge to Clifford Olson: George Garrett recounts a life in B.C. news radio

New book from ‘Intrepid Reporter’ George Garrett offers readers a glimpse behind the headlines

Sell regulated heroin to curb B.C.’s overdose problem: report

B.C. Centre on Substance Use points to organized crime and money-laundering as contributing factors

Galchenyuk scores in OT as Coyotes edge Canucks 3-2

Vancouver manages single point as NHL playoff chase continues

B.C. legislature moving suspended staff controversy to outside review

Whale watching, Seattle Mariners trips billed as emergency preparedness, Speaker Darryl Plecas says

Two boys saved after falling through ice in Coquitlam

RCMP say a Good Samaritan pulled the kids to safety

More people signing up for compulsory vaccines

Maple Ridge mom says public tired of hearing about measles

Why do zebras have stripes? Perhaps to dazzle away flies

Researchers from University of Bristol look into why zebras have stripes

Poll: More voters believe Canada doing worse under Trudeau government

22 per cent believed the country is doing better and 27 per cent said things are the same

HBC shuttering Home Outfitters across Canada

North America’s oldest retailer is revamping its various stores to improve profitability

BC SPCA investigates Okanagan woman with prior animal abuse convictions

BC SPCA is investigating a property near Vernon

Most Read