Construction slated to begin on $5B Montreal automated light rail project
- CDPQ Infra Inc., owner and operator of public infrastructure projects in Canada, has chosen a team to engineer and build a $5.3 billion regional automated light-rail line in Montreal, according to The Architect's Newspaper. When complete, the Reseau Express Metropolitain (REM) will be the fourth-largest such system in the world.
- AECOM, according to a company press release, will design bridges, tunnels and other necessary infrastructure for the project and assist in the environmental permitting process as part of the winning NouvLR General Partnership. The 26-station, 40-mile project will be electrified and will feature overhead, underground and surface routes that will connect with the Montreal Metro through four shared stations. The CDPQ must still complete the necessary land acquisitions and consult local communities before beginning construction in April 2018.
- The CDPQ estimates that the line, which should be complete in 2021, could draw up to $4 billion in private investment and shave $1.5 billion off Greater Montreal's congestion-related costs. CDPQ Infra ($2.35 billion), Quebec ($1 billion), Canada ($1 billion), public utility Hydro Quebec ($230 million) and the Montreal Transit Corporation ($405 million) will pay into the REM, with CDPQ covering any cost overruns.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced in June of last year the Canadian government's support of the project. At the time, the projected ridership on the REM was 31 million by 2021 and 43 million by 2031, but that was using a completion date of 2020.
The CDPQ is a subsidiary of Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Quebec's pension fund manager. Canadian pension funds, Reuters reported back in 2016, are big on infrastructure investments but have generally focused on overseas markets because of the risks inherent in new construction and in order to take advantage of the profitability of foreign assets.
Canada has been a generous supporter of transportation projects, a philosophy that has benefited the U.S. Canada is fronting the money for a new Canada-U.S. border crossing, the $2.1 billion Gordie Howe International Bridge, which will connect Windsor, Ontario, with Detroit. The U.S. will pay back its share when it starts collecting tolls from those using the bridge.
Canada could also play a major role in a proposed Vancouver-Seattle high-speed rail project. The line could cost as much as $42 billion, according to a Washington State Department of Transportation study reported by the Vancouver Sun. As of August 2017, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee was in early talks with Canadian officials about using the country's new infrastructure bank to pay for part of the project.
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