As the future of Surrey’s light rail project hangs in the balance, TransLink has extended deadline for contractors to apply to build it.
Surrey mayor-elect Doug McCallum has vowed to halt the 10.5-kilometre Surrey-Newton-Guildford LRT plan and instead extend the existing SkyTrain line down Fraser Highway to Langley.
McCallum told the Now-Leader he and his Safe Surrey Coalition will put forward a formal motion to cancel Surrey’s light rail project at the inaugural meeting of the new council on Nov. 5. He would then have to get his vision passed at the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation and ensure there’s enough money on the table to build it.
“Given the City of Surrey’s indication that they plan to begin a discussion with the new Mayors’ Council regarding rapid transit in Surrey, we’ve extended the RFQ (Request for Qualifications) deadline until December 19,” said Chris Bryan, Senior Media Relations Advisor for TransLink, in an emailed statement.
“This has been done at the request of proponents to allow for more time to receive clarity from the Mayors’ Council on policy direction,” Bryan added.
The deadline was initially to be Nov. 21.
TransLink kicked off the procurement phase of the LRT project in early September.
It launched after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau came to Surrey and “officially launched” the fully-funded and approved project on Sept. 4.
The project description for contractors, currently open on BC Bid, includes constructing the LRT-line with 11 passenger stops, road widening and improvements, building a new operations and maintenance facility, as well as improvements at transit exchanges at Newton, Guildford, Surrey Central and King George.
The scope of the project also includes work along the streetscape, as well as cycling and pedestrian ways.
“The scope is asking that not only will be have a contractor that knows how to build this, but knows how to operate this,” Stephan Mehr, project director for the SNG line, told reporters during a technical briefing at Surrey City Hall in September. “This is really important to us, we’re going to be very scrupulous in terms of who wants to build this… We’ve asked specifically for their best experience in delivering LRT beginning to end. It’s not just about building it and walking away.”
After the deadline passes, TransLink’s intention is for three groups to be shortlisted. At that point, a RFP (Request for Proposals) would launch that would entail “a technical and a price proposal for the project,” slated to start in early 2019.
The contract would be for 11 years, according to the BC Bid posting, including four years of design and construction, and seven more years for extended warranty and maintenance.
As of early September, prior to McCallum’s election and his vow to halt the project, TransLink estimated construction would begin in 2020 and that the line would be operation by 2024.
Last week, New Westminster Mayor Jonathan Cote has suggested Surrey should pay back the $50 million TransLink says it has spent on planning light rail in the city, but mayor-elect Doug McCallum who intends to build SkyTrain instead says that won’t be happening.
“We have no intention of paying that,” McCallum told the Now-Leader. “It’s TransLink’s problem, and it’s their mistake because they didn’t do any public consulting.”
The Mayors’ Council’s first meeting of the newly elected mayors is set for Nov. 15 in New Westminster.