With the explosion of $ 700 million in tram costs, Quebec City announced Monday that it was cutting its structural network project from its trambus portion.
• Read also: The structuring network revised to meet the budget of $ 3.3 billion
• Read also: Structuring network: Gosselin denounces an “explosion of costs”
In December 2019, the structuring network included 23 km of tramway, 15 km of trambus, 16 km of reserved lanes, three terminals and two mechanical links between upper and lower town.
On Monday, the Labeaume administration announced a series of changes that are changing the face of the project. We are talking about 22 km of tramway, 34.9 km of reserved lanes and two terminals.
“We have made choices to continue delivering a structuring network, but yes, the tram costs more than what was initially planned,” said project office director Daniel Genest.
The costs of the tram portion jumped $ 700 million. For this infrastructure alone, they went from $ 2.3 billion to $ 3.1 billion. These changes were made during the preliminary design phase.
The “undervalued” tunnel
The mayor of Quebec, Régis Labeaume, blamed the poor initial estimates of the costs of the tunnel.
“He was undervalued. We may not have had the best specialists. The bill for expropriations and public utility trips will also be higher than expected.
Labeaume reiterated his goal of making the project within the $ 3.3 billion envelope, “not a penny more.”
To get there, his administration made a cross on the trambus, bi-articulated buses that were to run between D’Estimauville and Laval University and between the Saint-Roch center and ExpoCité.
Instead, the routes will become regular metrobuses.
Mr. Genest agreed that the choice of metrobus inevitably lengthens the journey time. The director insisted that “there is an improvement compared to the current situation”.
We are saving on work on underground infrastructure, which is no longer required, and on property acquisitions, which have become useless since buses will be integrated into the already existing right-of-way. This change saves $ 746 million.
The project office assures that the trambus vehicle was too heavy for the estimated traffic.
We therefore forget the terminus that was to be built at ExpoCité. Also, another element that disappears from the project, the two mechanical links that were planned between the upper town and the lower town at the height of Joffre and Baillargé.
As already known, the withdrawal of two stations has been confirmed, at de la Église and on Parliament Hill.
Mr. Genest and the project office believe that transportation needs will still be met, despite these withdrawals, and that the network remains a structuring network.
The mayor insisted that the end result is that the project enters the budget and will transport as many people overall.
Some $ 600 million is set aside for the unexpected, said Labeaume, who believes that the budget is well put together and “conservative”.
“The less pieces there are left”
Opposition leader Jean-François Gosselin criticized the “explosion in tram costs”.
For him, there is not much left of the structuring network announced in March 2018. “The more it advances, the less there are pieces left. “
He intends to speak to Prime Minister François Legault to find out if his government continues to endorse the project.