Cambridge LRT expansion still a long way off: regional official

By Matt Hutcheson

Transit riders, frustrated with the seeming lack of progress of the region’s expansion of LRT service to Cambridge, will have to wait several more years before the trains start rolling.

But that doesn’t mean progress isn’t being made, it’s just incremental and mostly behind the scenes.

Matthew O’Neil, manager of rapid transit coordination for the Region of Waterloo told The Mike Farwell Show they are starting work on a critical aspect of the project.

“We have now embarked on an initial business case. It will look at the costs and what the broader community benefits are for the project. It will update the ridership forecast and look at overall costs and benefits,” he said.

The business case will be a key factor in securing funding from the province and the federal government.

O’Neil says once the funding is secured, they can start looking at how to move forward with the project which will be a massive undertaking.

Phase 2 calls for an elevated track from the Fairview terminal, over Fairway Rd. connecting to the River Rd. extension. Then over the Grand River beside Hwy. 8 and over the off-ramp onto King street past Sportsworld under the 401 and down Shantz Hill. An elevated track will take it over Fountain St. and the Speed River, past King and Eagle, across an unused rail spur and onto Hespeler Rd. at Pinebush and Eagle. From there, it’ll go down Hespeler to The Delta to an existing rail corridor parallel to Beverly St., ending at the Ainslie St. terminal.

O’Neil said the environmental assessment has been done and council has approved the route.

“We think we have found a route that works well. It connects all the key locations we need to connect to where we have transit routes existing, where there are residences and jobs. Those were some of the key objectives,” said O’Neil.

Such a complicated undertaking will take time.

“It’s a number of years away,” O’Neil said. “How far away? It really depends on getting funding sources. Whether we do some things in parallel or sequentially. There are still a number of questions to be answered.”

O’Neil said he doesn’t expect construction to begin until at least 2032.

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