Cost of 50 Street Rail Viaduct Rises by $34.3M, City Council Approves Budget Increase

The city will spend $34.3 million more than planned to complete the 50 Street Crossing Overpass project.

The city administration says the rising cost of the project is due to supply chain issues, rising inflation, availability of materials and labor due to construction projects. simultaneous reconstruction in British Columbia, the conflict in Ukraine and the effect of sanctions on the overall market.

The price of nickel, a component of steel, soared 300%, while fuel jumped 25% with no sign of falling market costs, according to a report to the council.

“There are these different elements that all come together at some point,” said Adam Laughlin, deputy city manager.

The Board voted unanimously on Monday to approve an increase of up to $34.4 million, with the hope of additional federal funding, to continue the project.

Laughlin told council that when it comes to rail separation in Edmonton, this intersection is one of the highest priorities. He added that the crossing is blocked up to 64 times a day, totaling up to five and a half hours of delays per day.

The city estimates that traffic volumes along this corridor can reach 35,000 vehicles per day, Laughlin added.

The project includes the widening of 50th Street north of the Sherwood Park Freeway from four to six lanes with a pair of bridges running north and south, and an extension of 82nd Avenue below 50th Street to connect two areas industrial.

The cost represents an increase of 23.6%, for a total of $180 million. Ottawa, the province and CP Rail have contributed to the project, but Mayor Amarjeet Sohi hopes the federal government will increase its contribution by $40 million to cover some of the rising costs.

“I will do my part to present a strong case to the federal government,” Sohi said. “This has been a long-term irritant to Edmontonians, especially people living in the south and people doing business in the south.”

To make up for the cost overrun, the city will take $33 million from the tax-funded debt, with any additional federal government support used to repay the borrowed funds. CP Rail has also increased its contribution by an additional $1.3 million.

NOT THE FIRST TIME

Tim Cartmell, councilor for pihêsiwin ward, said it was not the first time the city had encountered increases in construction costs, citing the 2008-09 financial crisis where the city saw increases of 2% per month. .

“It’s always a bit risky, especially in a long-term project with a lot of moving parts, whether you commit to a price and overtime, that price is achievable or not,” Cartmell said. “It’s difficult to manage.”

When presented with the skyrocketing costs for the overpass, Cartmell asked the administration if all options were being considered to reduce labor and construction material costs, including the use of ramps shorter.

“There are design standards and trade-offs that are made in all of these situations,” he told CTV News Edmonton. “What is the alternative?

“Not endorsing this and going back, trying to redesign it, trying to get a different answer, but because the costs are going up so quickly, you spend a lot of time trying to get to a lower number, and the inflation consumes everything you save,” Cartmell added.

Cartmell said he would like to see the city prioritize maintaining current assets before building new ones when it comes to future infrastructure projects.

“One thing we cannot do, in my view, is to reduce our efforts to maintain and renew our existing assets,” Cartmell said, adding that in the 1990s, facing an inflation crisis , the city has decided to reduce the maintenance of existing assets. .

“We’re still paying for it today,” he said.

“If that (maintaining current assets) means we have to release some of the new stuff for a bit longer until we can afford it again, then maybe that’s what we need to do.”


With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson

Abdul J. Gaspar