Calgary city officials have given the Green Line light rail project formal approval, giving the project a way forward into the start of pre-construction in late 2017 and 2018.

The project, which includes 28.5 miles of new track and 28 new stations from 160 Avenue North to Seton, will really start to take shape in 2020 with work starting on an initial 12 miles of track, ready to run trains in 2026. This initial phase comes in at $4.65 billion.

With the Calgary City Council approval of the project this summer, the funding setup will allow the Green Line to get built in stages, as funding becomes available. The next step for the project includes securing the proper funding to start construction on the first 12 miles from 16 Avenue N in Crescent Heights to 126 Avenue SE in Shepard. Any projects set for 2017 and 2018, part of an already approved $250 million funding window, will clear the path for future Green Line construction, including utility relocation, land preparation, environmental remediation and transit improvements.

While pre-construction projects continue, planning for the future of the Green Line will move north.

The first 12-mile phase will include 14 stations, eight bridges, just over half a mile of elevated track, a maintenance and storage facility and 2.4 miles of a “Centre City tunnel.”

“We could not have reached this major milestone without the support of Calgarians,” officials say in a statement. “We would like to thank the community associations and business groups along the route, and the thousands of people who took part in events across the city over the last two and a half years. Your local insight has helped shape this program—from envisioning the development potential around stations to changing the route to protect community assets, and refining locations of stations for better access for customers.”

Once fully operational, Calgary officials expect the Green Line to carry 240,000 trips per day.

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