Some councillors want to hit the brakes on south LRT extension after latest cost increase

The price tag to extend the Capital Line LRT south to Ellerslie Road is up more than 20%, frustrating some city councillors. #yegcc #yegtraffic #yegtransit

By Sean Amato

Early construction work has already begun on this south LRT extension, but some city councillors are wishing they could hit the brakes on the project, after costs came off the rails. 

Nearly a quarter of a billion dollars — that’s the cost increase Edmonton taxpayers are facing to extend the LRT from Century Park to Ellerslie Road. 

The project was approved for $1.1 billion in 2021. Councillors decided last month — in a private meeting — to beef up the budget to $1.34 billion for a scaled-back version. But not every councillor is on board with following through.

“My choice would be to serve these communities with a bus rapid transit system on a different alignment in the interim and preserve the LRT alignment until later,” said Tim Cartmell, a city councillor.

The extension is 4.5 kilometres. It includes an underpass at 23 Avenue, a bridge over the Anthony Henday, and two stations. 

The province and feds are each kicking in large chunks, but Edmonton is on the hook for $585 million. 

A city report claims “economic challenges, inflation, supply chain disruptions, and labour availability” are to blame for the cost increases. 

The mayor says the fast-growing south needs LRT and bailing now would result in the city losing about $700 million from Alberta and Canada. 

“It’s an investment we have to make. We have to build this LRT anyway, so we might as well build it now because in the future the cost is going to be higher,” said Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi.

Councillors say the decision was made in private because contracts were not signed. Still, some want more information to be made public now.

“What I was expecting is more transparency in what is actually driving that cost so I can explain it to Edmontonians,” said Erin Rutherford, a city councillor.

There is no public completion date for the extension but there is already a plan for phase two to take the line further south, and perhaps one day, all the way to the airport.

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today