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Jan 16,2008 The Now News

Editorial  Coquitlam NOW

Published: Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Monday's promise by the B.C. Liberals to build the Evergreen Line to Coquitlam has been made before -- this is the third time, by many accounts.

While the (re)announcement contained a new pledge to increase the amount of provincial funding to $400 million, it also contained the rather gloomy news that the cost of the project has now ballooned to $1.4 billion -- twice the original estimate.

While numbers were in short supply amid the hoopla and glossy brochures of Monday's news conference, most pundits peg the Evergreen Line's funding shortfall at $400 million. That's after the new provincial funding is taken into account.

What that means is that while the province is planning to build the line by 2014, unless the feds kick in at least another $400 million -- the cost estimate could increase again as construction costs continue to rise -- the line will remain nothing more than a promise.

Those who argue that the Tri-Cities need SkyTrain rather than the light rail transit proposed for the Evergreen Line may say that's a good thing. But few would argue that the Tri-Cities doesn't need some form of rapid transit.

Monday's announcement also included plans to build SkyTrain extensions to UBC and Guildford.

It seems obvious to us that as the Olympics approach, the Evergreen Line will be the first rapid transit proposal to be pushed off the table if the 2010 Winter Games puts the province into the red.

Building the SkyTrain extensions to UBC and into Surrey -- a municipality growing so fast its population is expected to eclipse that of Vancouver -- will be easier to justify financially than investing in a new technology (LRT) that hasn't been used before in Metro Vancouver.

We're not sure what the answer to all of this is, but hope those planning to buy homes or make other important decisions based on the province's most-recent Evergreen Line announcement exercise caution.

Maybe it will be built. Maybe it won't. Right now, it doesn't look like a sure bet

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