Completion of the Evergreen Line has once again been delayed by several months, B.C.’s Transportation Ministry announced Friday.
The new SkyTrain line was originally scheduled to be operational next summer, but was pushed back to fall, 2016. Now, the ministry has confirmed the issues around tunnelling earlier this year have pushed back the opening to early 2017.
In March, the tunnel-boring machine known as Alice ran into some challenging ground conditions and got stuck in the same location under Clarke Road and Seaview Drive for months. That, however, changed when the tunnel boring machine named Alice made its breakthrough at the south portal located at the intersection of Clarke Road and Kemsley Avenue and she emerged out of the two-kilometre stretch running from east of Barnet Highway in Port Moody to south of Kemsley Avenue in Coquitlam. The event was praised by local politicians as a “milestone,” and marked the end of the tunnel boring process, the most complex and technically-challenging part of the $1.4-billion project.
Loud cheers in Italian discourse could be heard from down below in the pit when the tunnel boring crew of approximately 200 people, from Italian boring company SELI, began celebrating the much-awaited completion.
“When you do something as unique as this project, you have to expect there may be things as they are doing the tunnelling that they didn’t expect,” Fassbender said. “So I think success is the fact that we are moving ahead, we see the tunnel now and the rest of the project… There will always be challenges but they’ve overcome it.”
Currently, the overall project is 75 per cent complete, with stations between 80 per cent and 99 per cent complete. The elevated and at-grade guideways were completed earlier this spring, and test trains began rolling on the southern portions of the extension in July.
While tunnel boring is complete, much more work still needs to be done over the next 12 months before test trains can run through the 10-metre-diameter tunnel to Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station in fall 2016.
Tunnel interior work and systems installation, meanwhile, will continue into summer of 2016. This will include track work, ventilation and communication systems and building the base and centre wall. Above ground, crews still have to finish off the seven stations, the park and ride facilities, road works and landscaping. Trains are expected on the tracks for testing come next fall.
Overall, the 11-kilometre Evergreen Line is 75 per cent complete, according to the ministry. Once operational, the line will link Burnaby, Port Moody and Coquitlam to Vancouver, and will carry up to 70,000 passengers and remove 40,000 cars from the road every day by 2021.