BY RICHARD GILBERT - The construction of a proposed light rapid transit line in Edmonton, Alberta is moving forward using an alternative procurement process, after city council approved an updated funding strategy for the project.
“I’m very pleased with council’s decision to take the next step with the Valley Line and begin seeking construction partners in the private sector,” said Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson.
“The Valley Line represents our continued commitment to creating a more sustainable transportation system, which is essential to our municipal vision and Edmonton’s long term future.”
The City of Edmonton announced on April 16 that an updated funding strategy based on a public-private partnership (P3) funding model has been approved for the first stage of the $1.8 million Valley Line.
The P3 funding model means the city will retain ownership of the Valley Line.
However, the project will be partially funded, constructed, operated and maintained by a private consortium for 30 years.
The strategy allows city administration to initiate a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) from design and construction companies in the private sector.
The RFQ process, which is expected to take about three months, will provide contractors with an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to design, construct, operate and maintain the project.
Once the RFQ process is completed, a group of successful contractors will be short-listed and announced publicly.
Those shortlised parties will then be invited to reply to a Request for Proposals (RFP).
After the invitation, each party will design a final vision of the line that meets criteria established by the city.
The Valley Line involves the construction of a low-floor urban line that will run from Mill Woods to Lewis Farms, crossing through downtown.
The line’s route, which will run a total length of 27 km, has been approved by city council.
Stops for the Valley Line are similar in function to Edmonton’s existing LRT stations, but will be comparable to bus stops in terms of their spacing and the amount of infrastructure provided.
These 25 stops will be at road level and accessible to walk-up pedestrian traffic.
The three LRT stations on the Valley Line are elevated with access via stairs, escalators, and elevators.
These three stations will serve Wagner, Misericordia Hospital and the West Edmonton Mall.
Construction costs for the Valley Line (SE to W LRT) project are only known at a conceptual level and are subject to change.
The conceptual-level cost estimate for this project is $3.2 billion.
The Alberta government announced on March 11 that it will contribute $250 million in Green Trip funding, $150 million in additional funding and $200 million in a 10-year interest free loan to the southeast portion of the project.
This joins the city’s own contribution of $800 million, along with the federal government’s contribution of $250 million from PPP Canada and an expected $150 million through the Building Canada Fund.
As a result, the City of Edmonton expects the Valley Line will remain on schedule for a construction start in 2016.
The project is schedule to be open to the public by the end of 2020.
City administration evaluated the P3 delivery method for the Southeast portion of the Valley Line in 2012.
An independent review found that a P3 delivery method offered an about 3 per cent to 10 per cent cost reduction over the project’s life cycle, compared with other delivery methods such as Design-Build.