Tuesday, December 21, 2010

City flip-flops on tunnel length

I'm not as hellbent against Ottawa's proposed transit tunnel as Ken Gray is, though many details and options were glossed over in the decision to go with the current transit strategy. This is a slight improvement over the previous plan, which was entirely mired in secrecy, to the point that Councillors had to sign a non-disclosure agreement just to see the contract they were approving.

Citizen blogger David Reevely has been reading the City's Interim geotechnical report (which I haven't read). Apparently, as reported in an article posted to the Citizen's website this afternoon, they want to shorted the length of the tunnel by almost one-third from the current 3.2 km.

That would bring it to about 2.5km. Which is what was originally proposed in 2008 for the tunnel. At some point since then, the length of the proposed tunnel was extended 0.7km to bring the end of the tunnel closer to Lees station. At the time, it was cited that this would make it logistically easier to extract the TBM, and would be less disruptive than if the tunnel had to make a steep climb up near Laurier. City staff said the cost difference wouldn't be significant.

Now we're hearing the reverse.

We've been told time and time again that the price tag on the rail project is a "very conservative estimate" that will come down as details are worked out, and that the project includes a $100M contingency to cover unexpected increases in cost. This was the party line repeated time and time again by then-Mayor Larry O'Brien and then-Transit Committee Chair Alex Cullen--neither of whom were re-elected.

Now we're hearing that the geotechnical parameters of the tunnel exceed those of the "very conservative estimate."

While it might be tempting to think this apparently new recommendation came about because we have more information, how new can that information be if the original proposal suggested the same thing?

- RG>

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