Sunday, November 28, 2010

Eh? Feds say "no" to LRT in Edmonton

The Edmonton Journal reported that the city's transportation manager said in a Thursday news conference last week that
The federal government "owes" Edmonton a contribution for LRT expansion after spending huge amounts on transit in other cities, transportation general manager Bob Boutilier says.
Boutilier, who released the recommended track alignments and station locations for the west and southeast LRT lines Thursday, said the government gave $1 billion to Toronto's transit system a decade ago.
"Why aren't we getting that kind of support here?" he asked at a news conference.
"When you look at LRT -- the reduction in emissions, the reduction in roads -- it's green ... there's all kinds of reasons to (back) it, and I just think we're owed. It's time."

City leaders were hoping for largesse from Ottawa to support Edmonton's 2017 Expo bid for the world's fair.  Not receiving it, statists in the Alberta capital are playing the regional bias card.   But the newspaper editorializes today ("Federal funding refusal a good thing") that some measure of sanity will now return to civic business:
I think the reason expo boosters are so angry is that their excuse for lavish municipal spending has been taken away from them, along with the chance of roping taxpayers in other parts of the country into paying for their elaborate "vision" of the city. Now initiatives such as LRT and University of Alberta campus expansion will have to be trimmed back to realistic budgets and timelines. There will be no fast-tracking projects in the name of welcoming the world.
Had the expo bid gone ahead, and had Edmonton won the right to host a world's fair over rivals Liege, Belgium, and Astana, Kazakhstan, every high-priced or controversial municipal project from now through 2017 would have been declared vital to our hosting obligations.
Not happy that LRT expansion is going ahead twice as fast as planned -- right through your front yard? Unfortunate. But you know, we've got the world dropping by for a visit in a few years. Gotta have everything ready.
So now its back to the drawing board, with LRT planning delayed two years and ambitions curtailed, says the Edmonton Sun:
And if plans for southeast and west LRT lines don’t get moving within the next few years, they could be scrapped altogether, Bob Boutilier said.
“A year or two is fine, but beyond that, we’re just not going to build it,” Boutilier said Thursday.
“That’s my concern.”
But that's not stopping the social engineer-cum-transit boss and his colleagues:
The new lines could revolutionize Edmonton transit, Boutilier said.
“Our team is planning new LRT lines that are completely different from what Edmontonians are used to,” he said...
“These are plans that help shape the city,” said Adam Laughlin, director of facility and capital planning.
Even in oil sands-, wheat-, and timber-rich Alberta, the LRT project's price tag of C$3.4 billion is too expensive a toy train set.

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