Saturday, May 26, 2007

RedHill Expressways bill over half a billion

Thanks momma for the heads up on this one:

Expressways bill over half a billion
The bill for the Red Hill Valley Expressway and the Lincoln Alexander Parkway has hit $549 million according to figures released this week by the provincial government. Slightly more than half is being paid for by Queen’s Park.
In a letter going before city council tonight, Minister of Transportation Donna Cansfield says the province has spent nearly $300 million on the two expressways and associated interchanges. That includes $80 million for the Linc and $107 million for the valley road that was previously given to the city and included in the official city budget of $439 million for the two roads.
Cansfield, however, also provides figures for the provincial spending at the QEW, including an interchange for the valley expressway, reconstruction of the Burlington Street interchange required to accommodate the expressway, and installation of collector lanes and other QEW modifications.
“The cost to the ministry is about $110 million”, says Cansfield’s letter. “Therefore the total ministry contribution amounts to over $296 million.”
That puts the total price tag for the 8 km north-south road at $357 million or more than $32 million per kilometre. The 12 km Linc cost, including the interchange with the 403, is pegged at $192 million – about $16 million a kilometre.
Cansfield’s letter responds to a January council demand for more provincial dollars for the expressways. Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark put forward the motion, citing a 75-80% provincial contribution to a Mississauga road project as evidence that Hamilton had been short-changed by the province on Red Hill.
Bob Bratina had suggested the lower subsidy for Hamilton’s expressways was likely because they are a city not a provincial project. Cansfield appears to agree, arguing that provincial funding is “determined on a case-by-case basis” and referring specifically to the Mississauga example.
“The City of Mississauga examples you refer to are provincial transportation projects,” she writes. “The municipality contributed a small portion to accelerate or fund improvements above and beyond those being proposed by the ministry, such as adding a lane on the municipal road or bridge crossing the highway. The province did not contribute to the cost of the project’s municipal component.”
The high cost of building the expressways – which doesn’t include the operational or life-cycle costs of the projects – has been repeatedly cited by city finance staff as a key reason for Hamilton’s high debt levels and restricted capital spending options.
For example, city treasurer Joe Rinaldo has argued that building a new city hall is unaffordable because of the city’s debt load, even though it would be more cost effective in the long run than repairing the existing building.

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