Ravco Digs Downtown

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TransLink director David Cadman claims he was never told that RAVCo was going to allow its private partner, the SNC Lavalin/Serco consortium, to dig a disruptive “cut-and-cover” tunnel in parts of downtown Vancouver to accommodate a new transit line to Richmond and the airport. Cadman, a Vancouver city councillor, also told the Straight that while TransLink directors were deciding the fate of the $1.72-billion Richmond/Airport/Vancouver Rapid Transit project last year, RAVCo officials never said how much would be cut-and-cover along Cambie Street.

“We were told that was proprietary to the bidder, and therefore could not be revealed,” Cadman said.

RAVCo’s nine directors are nominated by the airport authority, the provincial government, and TransLink. The three public bodies and the federal government are funding most of the rapid-transit project’s capital costs.

RAVCo’s recent submissions to the provincial Environmental Assessment Office revealed plans for cut-and-cover tunnels along Granville Street north of Georgia Street and along Cambie Street from 2nd Avenue to 63rd Avenue. On January 31, Cambie Street merchants held a meeting at the Plaza 500 Hotel and met with RAVCo officials to discuss their concerns about the line.

On January 29, Ottawa engineer Raul Lopez wrote a letter to the Cambie Street Merchants Association claiming that RAVCo switched from a bored-tunnel construction to open-cut excavation to shorten the building schedule. Lopez’s letter stated that this approach is far more disruptive for area businesses and more dangerous for workers. “By far the greatest risk posed by open-cut excavation is that to the well being of surrounding business,” Lopez wrote. “The impact can be so severe so as to lead to the financial ruin of business by declining patronage.”

Lopez cited the experience of merchants in Boston and San Francisco, whose businesses were “ruined” by open-cut excavation rapid-transit projects. He added that one option would be for Cambie Street merchants to seek a court injunction to stop the project until RAVCo has satisfactorily answered questions he and others have raised.

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