In an effort to extend light rail service from Vancouver, B.C., toward the campus of the University of British Columbia west of downtown, the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation has invited bidders to submit their qualifications to design, build and finance what is now called the “Broadway Subway.” 

Part of the Metro Vancouver’s Mayors’’ Council 10-Year Vision, the project will add 3.5 miles and six stations to the light rail Millennium Line between VCC-Clark and Arbutus Street. 

The RFQ closes in April and then the ministry will select up to three teams to participate in the subsequent phase of the competitive selection, the request for proposal. Early work will start on preparing for subway construction, such as installing trolley wire poles and upgrading intersection signals along the routes adjacent to the subway corridor to better help with future trolley bus detours. 

The main construction is planned to start in 2020, with Translink service starting on the extension beginning as early as 2025. 

“I’m excited that following years of planning, regional prioritizing and funding discussions, we have the green light to start construction on the Arbutus portion of the Broadway Subway,” says Kennedy Stewart, Vancouver mayor, in a statement. “The Broadway Subway is not only Vancouver’s No. 1 transportation priority but an infrastructure investment that helps improve the entire region’s transportation future.” 

The Transportation Investment Corp., a crown corporation with the legislative authority to deliver major transportation projects, will deliver the project on behalf of the province, an expected $2.83 billion (CDN) project funded and delivered by the B.C. government with contributions from the federal government and city of Vancouver. 

“Extending SkyTrain to Arbutus is a key component of delivering on the mayors’ vision, keeping our region connected and ensuring frequent, reliable transit service for our customers well into the future,” says Kevin Desmond, Translink CEO, in a statement. “It’s exciting to see this early work starting in support of our shared goal of keeping buses, people and goods moving during construction of the Broadway Subway project.”

During planning for mass transit to the University of British Columbia, it rested on the TransLink Mayors’ Council to endorse SkyTrain as the preferred technology for the extension. The vote by regional mayors was favorable toward SkyTrain, although not unanimous. SkyTrain was chosen as the preferred technology due to its ability to continue adding frequency and larger trains to keep up with demand to 2045 and beyond. 

Follow Tim Newcomb on Twitter at @tdnewcomb