Thursday, April 30, 2009

Building a tunnel: second thoughts

Ottawa Citizen editor-blogger Ken Gray is skeptical that a tunnel underneath Ottawa will ever be dug and used for light rail.

His concerns, in sum: lack of funding from non-municipal government; uncertainty about cost of dig.

His conclusion:
Right now, we have a number of lines on maps, a far-off date for construction and fluid estimates for costs. Frankly, I'm not sure we'll see this plan get off the ground once the various realities set in. As an Ottawa taxpayer, I'm worried.
Here is what Gray says about difficulties Ontario Power Generation has had building a tunnel near Niagara Falls. An excerpt:

The original estimated cost for the project was $985 million, but now the tunnel could cost as much as $1.6 billion and be as much as three years late.

That's the problem with drilling underground -- you're never sure what you are going to get. During construction of the large trench for Highway 416 east of Bells Corners, water caused delays and problems for builders. The Woodroffe underpass at the rail tracks north of Fallowfield Road was crippled after workers found water.

What might Big Becky strike when it bores under downtown Ottawa?

Indeed, there are a lot of unknowns about this tunnel, and its opponents are ready and willing to let us all know what they are.

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