Canadian Consulting Engineer

Vancouver poised to build $1.7 billion new transit link to Richmond and the Airport

August 6, 2003
By Canadian Consulting Engineer

Plans to build a 19-kilometre rail line linking downtown Vancouver with Surrey and the Vancouver International Airp...

Plans to build a 19-kilometre rail line linking downtown Vancouver with Surrey and the Vancouver International Airport are hanging on the federal government’s approval for funding.
TransLink, the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority, is ready to issue Requests for Proposals to four short-listed consortia, but is waiting to hear whether the Canadian government will invest the $450 million it has requested. Translink, the B.C. Government and the Airport have agreed to put up $300 million each to the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver Rapid Transit Project (RAVP or “RAV Line”). The project will amount to $1.7 billion in construction activity once it goes ahead. The new transit line was never part of the 2010 Winter Olympic Bid, but TransLink says it will be a big benefit to the Games.
Over the past year, the City of Vancouver has held public consultations on the project and its alignment, including hearing a deputation from Consulting Engineers of British Columbia who were strongly in support. Golder Associates (Trevor Fitzell) is advising Translink on the tunnelling aspects of the proposed line, and John Eastman, P.Eng. of ND LEA is responsible for technical aspects, including the construction estimates (Eastman was also a team leader for the recent Millennium Skytrain project). Translink is leaving it up to the bidding construction consortia to come up with specific solutions and transit technologies, such as whether the trains will be automated or driver driven, etc. The private partners will help to finance the project and will operate and maintain the line for a proposed 35-year period.
The route approved by 79% of the public includes underground tunnels in the downtown section as well as at-grade sections and an elevated line at the airport. The main line will begin downtown at the Waterfront station near Canada Place. It will follow south on Granville Street, tunnel underneath False Creek to Cambie Street, then cross the Fraser River into Richmond, the fast-growing suburb to the southwest of the city. An overhead branch line will go along Grant MConachie Way to the airport, and another will follow No. 3 Road to the airport.
The shortlisted consortia of engineering and construction firms were chosen in May from a field of 10 international teams with experience in public transit. The finalists include “RAVxpress” with AMEC and Bombardier, “RAVLink Transportation” with Fluor Canada and Aecon Infrastructure, “SNC-Lavalin/Serco,” and “RAVRail” with Busby & Associates. Two of these will be asked to submit a Best and Final Offer, and the final selection process will take another 18 months.


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