Monday, January 16, 2006

Hale-Trafalgar train overpass still on hold

Although most of us tend to get wrapped up in our daily affairs, is important to remember that one of the reasons we work so hard is because the City of London is ripping us off. Thankfully, the London Fog is here to document the continuing mismanagement of this foggy city.

Today's London Free Press reports on the proposed Hale-Trafalgar train overpass, a project that was approved nearly two years ago by council. However, construction has not yet started because council approved the first phase of the project before receiving a firm commitment from the federal and provincial governments and CN rail for more funding. The first phase, which entailed land acquisition and design, is nearly complete, meaning the money has been spent, but the funding the city was counting on to continue with construction has not arrived. It is typical of the decision makers in London to make budgets on the basis of wishes and unearned handouts not secured. From July of 2005:

. . the province has chipped in $2 million, CN $1.4 million and the city $1.25 million, much of it already spent on the project's first phase.

Sources say the city has only managed to get a commitment of $2 million from CN Rail, no more from the province and nothing from the federal government.
Labour Minister Joe Fontana, for example, has said the city should pay for construction out of its share of the federal gas tax. I'll be thinking of this story tomorrow as I dodge potholes on my way to work.

Initial reports estimated the cost of the overpass would be $11.5 million, but today's article forecasts $12.8 million and it could be going up a lot more too, if it's ever built that is:
The cost of the proposed Hale-Trafalgar train overpass -- already pegged at $12.8 million -- would soar if sound barriers were added to ease area residents' noise concerns.

"They do not come cheap, '' Ward 4 councillor Bill Armstrong said yesterday. "Along highways they costs hundreds of thousands of dollars.''

Armstrong will ask the city's environment and transportation committee today to survey McLarenwood Terrace neighbours who have complained about vibrations and noise from shunting trains. He said that would be a "first step'' to finding a solution.

[..] The city has bought some land it needs for the Hale-Trafalgar overpass, but construction is on hold because hoped-for funding partners haven't fully delivered -- or in the case of Ottawa, at all.

The project will not begin for at least three years, city transportation director David Leckie has said.

"If we (the city) go ahead with the overpass, we have to get realistic costs of sound barriers,'' he said.
$4.65 million dollars might be totally wasted, but here is Bill Armstrong trying to distract us by focusing on sound barriers?? If the city doesn't go ahead with the project, is CN entitled to a refund?

Londoners are told that the money has been spent, so presumably it's too late to use the money to fund other projects. My bets are if further funds don't show up from outside sources, council will use this very excuse when they vote to use city funds to finish the project, complete with sound barriers. They will blame the government and CN for not giving more, of course forgetting to mention the decision to build the overpass was fiscally irresponsible in the first place.

This whole affair is disgusting. I wonder if the councillors who voted in favour of the project had this potential strategy in mind? Get the money you can now, and worry about the rest later.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

Telescoping train wreck ... I don't care what subcontinent yer from, that's gotta hurt!