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A Tunnel to Nowhere?

Posted By Neal Yonson On October 27, 2009 @ 1:57 pm In News | Comments Disabled

The AMS this morning released a statement saying that UBC intends to cancel the underground bus loop project [1].

Earlier today, Blake Frederick outlined the situation: 3 weeks ago UBC starting thinking of a contingency plan if loop wasn’t going forward, due to concerns over Translink’s funding drying up. Translink was supposed to commit $10M to the project. Blake: “If Translink’s funding doesn’t come through, they have no other source of funding and they will have to cancel the underground bus loop.” Translink’s ten year plan [2] does not include this funding. Blake has now reached the conclusion that the project will be getting the axe.

Blake also passed on information from Tim Chu’s meeting with Translink representatives this week. Apparently Translink does not yet have the technology available for the proposed bus loop, and also do not have the staff available to devote to the project, presumably because of the transportation planning going into the Olympics.

Ken Hardie, spokesperson for Translink said only that “Translink is not in a position to fund expansion,” adding that what exactly falls within the definition of expansion is a discussion to be had between Translink and the University.

Nancy Knight, AVP Campus & Community Planning, said that while the Mayors Council funding package announced earlier this week [3] does not appear to contain the necessary funding to go ahead with the project, UBC is still waiting to hear this officially from Translink. She indicated that UBC is still committed to the project, but that it has always been a partnership with Translink, and in a partnership, if one partner is unable to meet its obligations the project falls apart. In the event that Translink pulls out of the project, the tunnel will not be built but that in all likelihood the road would (half of which is already built).

When asked about all of the utilities that were moved last year, she said those would have needed to be moved anyways in order to properly service the new buildings going in there (currently only the New SUB and the Alumni Centre, and possibly some student residences.) Even if the project is cancelled, the university still does not look fondly on the current location for two reasons: a promise made to the UEL that the bus loop would only be temporary, and the designation of the land it currently sits on as the “Gage South” neighbourhood, slated for market housing. As to what that means, while Campus and Community Planning will be looking to develop the future transportation plan with all of campus (we can all hope that actually happens; it certainly didn’t with the underground bus loop), a rather large, easily accessible and relatively central location would have to be found if a new bus loop were to be built. In the land use plans laid out in the current version of the campus plan, that certainly isn’t there (and this is why we should all listen to Darren Peets when he says planning is a total crapshoot [4]).

Although no one has yet confirmed the exact fate of the underground bus loop, it’s a safe bet that the project’s dead.

Update: October 27, 4:56pm
Nancy Knight has issued an open letter regarding the status and future of the Underground Bus Loop, which can be found here [5]. Details are still vague, and confirmation regarding this cancellation is still pending discussion with TransLink.

Update 2: October 28
Nancy Knight has released an amended version of her open letter [6] in which it has been confirmed that Translink will not be able to contribute its share towards the underground bus loop.

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URL to article: http://ubcinsiders.ca/2009/10/a-tunnel-to-nowhere/

URLs in this post:

[1] UBC intends to cancel the underground bus loop project: http://www2.ams.ubc.ca/index.php/ams/news/ubc_plans_to_cancel_underground_bus_loop_students_demand_accountability/

[2] ten year plan: http://www.translink.ca/en/Plans-and-Projects/~/media/Documents/Plans%20and%20Projects/10%20Year%20Plan/2009%2010%20Year%20Transportation%20and%20Financial%20Plan.ashx

[3] Mayors Council funding package announced earlier this week: http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/2010wintergames/Metro+Vancouver+mayors+vote+extra+million+TransLink/2138234/story.html

[4] he says planning is a total crapshoot: http://blogs.ubc.ca/ubcinsiders/2009/10/14/planning-the-unplannable/

[5] here: http://blogs.ubc.ca/ubcinsiders/files/2009/10/Oct27-09-Open-Letter.pdf

[6] amended version of her open letter: http://blogs.ubc.ca/ubcinsiders/files/2009/10/Oct27-09-Open-Letter-amended.pdf

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