Construction of the single largest transportation infrastructure project for the Tri-Cities in Metro Vancouver is underway. The long awaited Evergreen Line will link the communities of Port Moody, Coquitlam and Burnaby, B.C., for the first time through rapid transit, with a direct connection to the existing Millennium Line. The construction industry can expect to be busy for the next few years as the $1.4 billion project unfolds.
Major work on the project began in February 2013 after months of preparatory work last year, and is expected to be complete in 2016 or earlier. The 11-kilometre advanced light rapid transit line will create 8,000 jobs during construction.
EGRT Construction, a consortium led by SNC-Lavalin, was awarded an $889 million contract to design, build and finance the Evergreen Line. With seven stations, the line will connect Lougheed Town Centre in Burnaby and Douglas College in Coquitlam.
The consortium includes SNC-Lavalin, Graham Building Services, International Bridge Technologies Inc., Jacobs Associates Canada Corp., Rizzani de Eccher Inc., S.E.L.I. Canada Inc., SNC-Lavalin Constructors (Pacific) Inc., SNC-Lavalin Constructors (Western) Inc. and MMM Group Ltd.
Funding is being provided by the Province of British Columbia ($583 million), the Government of Canada ($417 million) and TransLink ($400 million). The province is acting as project manager.
The new line involves the construction of elevated and at-grade guideways, a bored tunnel, seven stations, power substations, train operating systems and parking facilities, as well as a vehicle storage and light maintenance facility.
“What has been left for the province to still procure is all the work around the station plazas – all the furniture … landscaping and interconnecting walkways,” says David Beckley, TransLink’s vice-president of engineering and implementation. “That work is expected to be put out to tender probably end of 2014 or early 2015.”
Beckley, who is responsible for the delivery of major capital projects at TransLink, provided an informative overview of the Evergreen Line for industry attendees at a Vancouver Regional Construction Association (VRCA) session held in May. He also discussed other current SkyTrain projects under TransLink’s infrastructure capital program.
He reviewed the design and features of the stations, starting from west to east: Lougheed Town Centre Station, Burquitlam Station, Moody Centre Station, Inlet Centre Station, Coquitlam Central Station, Lincoln Station and Lafarge Lake – Douglas Station.
The project will fully integrate into the existing SkyTrain system, linking directly to the Millennium Line, with connections to the Expo Line, Canada Line, the West Coast Express and regional bus networks.
This means lots of opportunities associated with building and creating the necessary infrastructure for integration such as expanded bus loops, park-and-ride facilities, and road and ground improvements.
“We probably have 20 systems on SkyTrain that all require seamless integration when the Evergreen Line gets put in,” says Beckley. “Because those systems are currently in service, moving passengers around, when we do cut in … we have to make sure that we don’t disrupt the existing service.”
Other work being done by TransLink includes upgrading and replacing end of life equipment (for example, radio systems) to integrate with the Evergreen Line.
“We’ve pulled 180 fibre optic cables to Lougheed,” says Beckley. “We also have to train staff to maintain the new vehicles, operate the stations and the systems – all part of the project.”
A big challenge will be to maintain service during construction so there is minimal disruption to businesses and bus services. Calling it a “very large logistical challenge,” Beckley says TransLink is working closely with EGRT to avoid any problems similar to what happened on the Cambie corridor during the Canada Line construction.
The Evergreen Line will also advance regional transportation goals that include reducing greenhouse gas emissions from transportation (a big part of TransLink’s mandate); economic growth and efficient goods movement; and having most trips by walking, cycling and transit by 2040.
Cheryl Mah is managing editor of Construction Business magazine.