Sheppard Subway extension gets a half-billion dollars more expensive; meanwhile, brothers Ford get upset

Sheppard Subway extension gets a half-billion dollars more expensive; meanwhile, brothers Ford get upset

Mo' money, mo' problems (Image: gloom)

If Gordon Chong suddenly decided to organize, say, a parade this summer, we’re pretty sure Rob Ford wouldn’t want to attend. First, at the end of last month, Chong provided a reality check on the mayor’s great public-private funding plans for the Sheppard Subway extension by suggesting the project would need to reach into city taxpayers’ pockets to be completed. Then, late last week, the Toronto Transit Infrastructure president and chief executive officer created another headache for Ford, this time telling reporters that it’s going to cost another $500 million more than expected to expand Toronto’s least-used subway line.

The Toronto Star has the details:

Pegged at $4.2 billion initially, the estimated cost has risen by $500 million, according to the head of the company created to make the business case for a publicly and privately funded subway extension.

“The Sheppard project is projected to be around $4.7 billion,” Gordon Chong, president and chief executive officer of Toronto Transit Infrastructure Ltd. (TTIL), said Friday.

Chong was brought in last spring, but said the organization didn’t really get up and running until last month and is seeking money from Ottawa to pay for studies and administration costs.

Meanwhile, Chong also said that it would likely cost between $250 and $300 million simply to complete the work that needs to be done to determine if the project is even feasible. While Chong continues to stress that he expects much of that cash to come from province and the feds, those numbers certainly have our eyebrows a little bit raised. We already doubted that the city would be able to build the subway extension without public money (as Ford has promised), and every increase in cost makes that all the less likely.

Case in point: one way of raising money for Sheppard that Ford endorses is a development charge along the Sheppard corridor. But, as Rob Granatstein noted a while back, the entire city has raised only about $219 million in total development charges in the last three years, an amount that doesn’t cover the planning costs and would only offset the latest cost increase by a little less than half. No matter, though, says Doug Ford, who told Janet Davis in no uncertain terms that Sheppard would get its subway (“As sure as I’m standing here, we’re getting subways. You got that? There’s going to be a subway on Sheppard”). Sure, the Sheppard extension may still be worth doing—but perhaps some of Ford’s friends on council might want to dust off the old Transit City plans, you know, just in case.

Sheppard subway cost soars [Toronto Star]
Planning Sheppard subway expansion will cost $7.5-million, adviser warns [Globe and Mail]
TTIL Report from CEO Gordon Chong []