TransLink’s CEO says he’s going to “lean in” and try to build a SkyTrain from Surrey to Langley if that’s what the region’s mayors approve – but paying for it could be another matter.
Kevin Desmond says the $1.65 billion Surrey LRT is a no-go after the Surrey city council’s decision to scrap the Surrey LRT line on Monday.
“If the city of Surrey will not co-operate with that project, we can’t build that project,” Desmond told reporters Thursday after speaking to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade.
“The first thing we have to do is go back to our Mayors’ Council and start sorting through the policy issues,” he said.
He said his staff would look at other options to build SkyTrain down Fraser Highway, including SkyTrain at grade, to bring the train from Surrey Centre to downtown Langley.
But he said the best TransLink estimates have the cost of that line at $2.9 billion dollars – almost twice the amount of money freed up by cancelling the Surrey LRT.
“At this point in time, we have leveraged all of the money that we know is available within the Canadian public transit infrastructure fund,” Desmond said.
“If we shift to Fraser Highway and need more funds to get all the way to Langley city, we’ll have to go back to the province and say how are we going to manage that. And if there’s an additional gap which there likely will be, we’ll have to have conversations with the government of Canada. At this point it’s all very speculative,” he said.
Desmond didn’t feel comfortable putting a timeline on this new process.
The LRT was slated for construction in 2020 and completion by 2024.
“I’d like to say to the people of Surrey, TransLink’s going to be there for you. Whatever our policy makers decide, and if we’re going to change directions, we’re going to do our utmost to build it as fast as possible and make it work for the people of Surrey,” Desmond said during his address to the board of trade.