The Works

Canadian Politician Thinks Past Next Election for Transportation Investment

Plus a startup pitch contest on a trolley, and more in our weekly New Starts.

A new light-rail line in Hamilton, Ontario, will connect with GO Transit’s Lakeshore West line, above.

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Our weekly “New Starts” roundup of new and newsworthy transportation projects worldwide.

Ontario Says GO to Hamilton Light Rail
The city of Hamilton, at the east end of Ontario’s “Golden Horseshoe,” will get the light-rail line it has been hoping for now that the Ontario provincial government has committed up to C$1 billion ($800 million U.S.) for its construction.

The line, work on which will begin in 2019, will run from McMaster University in the west to Queenston Circle in the city’s east end and will connect with the new West Harbour station on GO Transit’s Lakeshore West line. That line will also be extended to a new stop at Centennial Parkway by the time work begins on the LRT line.

The provincial government is also in talks with the city about extending the LRT line farther east to Eastgate Square on Centennial Parkway in Stoney Creek.

The province will pick up the entire tab for constructing the light-rail system, but the city government must approve an agreement with Metrolinx, the transportation planning agency for the Greater Toronto region, that spells out in detail who will operate the system, who will cover its operating costs and how long the project will take to complete.

Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger told the Toronto Star that the lengthy time frame for the project “is going to be a challenge” to get City Council to approve, but called the project a “sensible, affordable transportation system that lifts our entire community.”

“By the time all this is built, I won’t be in this job,” Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne told the Star. But, she added, responsible governments must “think beyond the next election cycle” and make investments for the long term.

Spanish-Brazilian Consortium to Build Panama City’s Second Metro Line
Contracts to build transit lines or equipment often contain clauses requiring agencies to award the work to the “lowest responsible bidder.” That’s exactly how the government of Panama determined who would build the second metro line in its capital city: It gave the contract to the second-lowest bidder, which won it on points.

The International Railway Journal reports that the contract to construct Panama City Metro Line 2 went to Consorcio Linea 2, a joint venture between Constructora Norberto Odebrecht of Brazil and FCC Construcción of Spain. Its $1.86 billion bid for the work was higher than the $1.67 billion bid submitted by second-place finisher Consorcio Panametro, a Chinese-Spanish consortium, but the Linea 2 bid got an overall quality score of 896, beating out Panametro’s score of 770.

Line 2 will be 21 km (13.1 miles) long and have 16 stations. It will run eastward from an interchange with Line 1 at San Miguelito, serving San Antonio and Hospital del Este on its way to a terminus at Nuevo Tocumen. A one-station extension to the east will be built as a separate project.

This will be the second Panama City metro construction project for the consortium, which also built the currently operating Line 1, opened in 2014. No start date has yet been set for the construction, which should take 46 months to complete once begun.

Entrepreneurs Pitch Their New Starts on Fort Collins Trolley
Rail transit advocates tout streetcar lines for their ability to stimulate business development along their routes. Here’s something different: On May 29th, the business development will take place on the streetcar itself.

Fort Collins streetcar (Photo by Steve Morgan)

That’s when Colorado State University and Fort Collins-based venture capital firm Blue Ocean Enterprises will conduct their second annual “Trolley Pitch” business plan competition, the consolation prize for college students competing in the annual CSU Blue Ocean Enterprises Challenge.

According to a CSU news release, collegiate entrepreneurs who didn’t win the $20,000 challenge will have two minutes to make their “elevator pitch” aboard the Fort Collins Municipal Railway’s Birney heritage trolley. A panel of judges will weigh the merits of each pitch while the motor roars and the bell clangs. (Two minutes is roughly the time it takes for the trolley to travel from one stop to the next.)

The competition will involve 12 teams of entrepreneurs from colleges and universities across Colorado. (A 13th team will have won the $20,000 in startup money; that team will later compete against the winner of a competition among 15 established startup firms from across the nation for a $250,000 grand prize.)

The trolley-pitch competition will begin at 3 p.m. on Friday in front of Blue Ocean’s Fort Collins offices, which are located directly on the Municipal Railway’s line along Mountain Avenue.

Know of a project that should be featured in this column? Tweet a brief description or link to @MarketStEl using the hashtag #newstarts.

The Works is made possible with the support of the Surdna Foundation.

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Next City contributor Sandy Smith is the home and real estate editor at Philadelphia magazine. Over the years, his work has appeared in Hidden City Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other local and regional publications. His interest in cities stretches back to his youth in Kansas City, and his career in journalism and media relations extends back that far as well.

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