Mayor supportive of rail system between Calgary and Airdrie
By: Sara Wilson
| Posted: Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 06:00 am
According to a government feasibility report released on May 23, the Province should not invest in a light rail transit system between Edmonton and Calgary.
The venture, according to the report, would not be supported by the tax base and the current population isn’t large enough to support a rail transit system.
Instead, the report suggests the government should “invest in the expansion of light rail transit and other regional transportation systems.”
“Yes, absolutely we should be looking into light rail transit,” Mayor Peter Brown said. “I don’t know the exact number of cars coming from the north (Red Deer) but there are a lot. We should be looking for (a system) that could include as far away as Red Deer.”
Brown said that the report focused on today’s conditions, but didn’t take into consideration future growth in the corridor.
“We’re hearing talk of tolls (on Highway 2) instead, why don’t we reduce the number of cars on the roads?” he asked. “I’d much rather sit on a train with my laptop for an hour that sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic.”
The report didn’t rule out any expansion for rail transit in the province, and included recommendations moving forward.
The Standing Committee on Alberta’s Economic Future made the following recommendations with respect to the feasibility of establishing a high-speed rail transit system in Alberta: The Government of Alberta should include in its long-term transportation infrastructure strategic plan the expansion of light-rail transit and the development of regional transportation systems.
As part of the long-term transportation infrastructure strategic plan, the government should also identify a greenfield transportation/utility corridor between Calgary and Edmonton to assist in future transportation infrastructure planning with capacity for a potential high-speed rail transit system, the committee released.
The committee also suggested the government should begin the process of acquiring land for a transportation/utility corridor right-of-way between Calgary and Edmonton, as budgets warrant, following public consultation with affected landowners, including Aboriginal groups.
The government should also investigate the development of a regulatory model to allow for private investors who can raise both the capital for high-speed infrastructure and procurement of land to be able to go forward to build this necessary infrastructure, according to the committee.
Brown admitted he didn’t know the costs associated with such a transit system, but said residents in Airdrie could benefit from it.
“In the winter, salt doesn’t work when it’s below -28°C and it’s scary being on those highways in the winter when there’s a storm. I’d much rather be sitting on a train than (having to drive during those conditions),” he said.
The government is currently on a province-wide campaign asking residents to contribute their thoughts on transportation options for the Province moving forward.
Applications opened for the Green Transit Incentives Program (GreenTRIP) funding on April 15, allowing municipalities to apply for capital grant funding to support their new or evolving public transit projects. The deadline for receipt of applications is Nov. 30.
“This is exciting news for both the province and municipalities. Every public transit project that goes forward helps to reduce traffic congestion and better connects our communities,” said Wayne Drysdale, minister of transportation.
“Our government is excited to help fund some really innovative projects in the future.”
Municipalities can apply for GreenTRIP funding to help purchase transit vehicles and technologies, build transit terminals and expand light rail transit services. GreenTRIP is a multi-year program that pays two-thirds of the estimated eligible project cost.
Applicants are required to contribute at least one-third of the capital cost of a project. GreenTRIP funding is allocated on a “pay-on-progress” basis. Albertans and municipalities are invited to learn more about GreenTRIP, its benefits and guidelines for application.
For more information on the feasibility report and its recommendations, visit www.assembly.ab.ca