With $2.2-billion dollars headed to Metro Vancouver for big ticket transit and transportation projects, there appears to finally be some certainty on the timeline for a Surrey light rail project.
Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner is vowing early construction on the project will be underway by next year.
LISTEN: Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner talks budget 2017 and transit
Hepner says Metro Vancouver mayors had been anticipating somewehere between $2-$2.1-billion, and calls the additional hundred million a “happy surprise.”
“It is actually probably the most significant single federal investment in the region’s transportation system in 20 years from the feds.”
That investment, Hepner says, will allow enough certainty that shovels will hit the ground for phase one of the light rail project by next year.
“We should see early work in 2018. We need to have all of the funding in place, the plans for funding in place, by the end of 2017. And then we can go to procurement readiness. And while we’re going through [that] we would be starting early work.”
Phase one of the project, the “L-Line,” will connect Guildford to Newton, while an anticipated phase two would run to Langley.
That said, she says it will still be years until the system is up and running, with procurement of the actual rail cars themselves likely to be a time-consuming process.
She admits the delays have been frustrating.
“We’re talking about it as a Surrey project. Quite frankly, it’s about regional mobility. And honestly, you can not be the second largest city and not have a project move forward.”
As for funding from the province, the other key piece that needs to fall in place before the wheels get in motion, Hepner says the mayors are watching closely.
“With only two months away from a provincial election, the Mayors’ Council will expect the parties to be very clear on what their position will be. And then they will leave it up to the electorate to decide how does that play out into their everyday lives.”
The BC Liberals are sticking to their one-third funding pledge, while the BC NDP are offering 40 per cent.