Ottawa city council put the final stamp of approval on the city’s light rail transit contract on Wednesday, in what councillors called a “once-in-a-lifetime” vote.
Council voted unanimously in favour of the capital’s biggest ever construction project called “Confederation Line,” which will be spearheaded by consortium The Rideau Transit Group.
“It’s a big load taken off the shoulders,” said Councillor Bob Monette. “We’ve had a lot of debate and a lot of votes on this and I think today we feel quite confident that we’re going in the right direction.”
The line will stretch between Tunney’s Pasture in the west to Blair Road in the east, though many councillors said they are anxious for further expansion into areas like Orleans.
The first phase of LRT will receive $600 million from the federal government and $192 million from the gas tax fund — bringing the total contribution to almost $800 million.
Ottawa-Orléans MP Royal Galipeau presented the city with a signed funding agreement during Wednesday’s meeting.
“This new transit system will make life easier for commuters across the city,” said Galipeau.
When the project was approved, councillors applauded and congratulated themselves.
Councillor Diane Deans said it was one of the most exciting days she’s ever had as a municipal politician.
Construction begins in the new year, when crews will begin widening the highway. Extra lanes will be added to make room for buses, which will be forced out of the transitway while the city makes the conversion to rail.
LRT trains are expected to be on test runs by 2017 and fully operational in the spring of 2018.