Evergreen Line opening delayed to early 2017

SkyTrain extension to Coquitlam was to carrying passengers in fall of 2016, tunnel machine breaks out (WITH VIDEO)

Tunnel boring machine 'Alice' broke through into daylight Friday morning

The opening of the Evergreen Line SkyTrain extension to Coquitlam has been delayed again, this time to early 2017.

That will make it three years overdue from an original target operating date of late 2014, set by then-Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon in 2008.

The $1.4-billion project was the subject of years of negotiation between the province and Metro Vancouver mayors, who finally agreed in 2011 to raise the Metro Vancouver gas tax two cents a litre to finance TransLink’s $400-million share of the cost.

The project has since grappled with construction complications from the tunnelling, including sinkholes that opened up above the underground segment in Port Moody.

Earlier this year the province pushed back a revised opening date of summer 2016 to the fall of 2016.

And it now says the transportation ministry expects to begin train testing next fall with “with the line operational in early 2017.”

The delay was disclosed Friday as the two-kilometre tunnel was completed and tunnel boring machine ‘Alice’ broke through into daylight.

“Having broken through today is an important milestone,” project manager Amanda Farrell said of the completion of the most complex part of the 11-kilometre rapid transit line.

Construction is being managed by the province and TransLink will operate it once complete.

Transportation Minister Todd Stone said the project is now more than 75 per cent finished.

“Once Evergreen is complete, B.C. will have the longest, fully automated rapid transit network in the world,” he said.

The Evergreen Line will run from Lougheed Town Centre in Burnaby and have stations in Coquitlam and Port Moody, the last being next to Lafarge Lake in Coquitlam. It will connect to express buses running to Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge.

NDP critic George Heyman said the latest delay and the ongoing tussle over TransLink funding is frustrating for transit riders.

“The Liberals continue to argue with the mayors around funding for the much-needed expansion of existing services on buses, as well as rapid transit investments on Broadway and South of the Fraser,” Heyman said. “When will we have the rapid transit we need in Metro Vancouver?”

VIDEO: TUNNEL MACHINE BREAKS OUT