Virtual groundbreaking ceremony held for Metro Vancouver Broadway Subway Project

May 14, 2021
The Millennium Line extension will bring additional transit options to and from British Columbia’s second largest jobs center.

Major construction is beginning on the Broadway Subway Project in Vancouver, B.C.

British Columbia Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming noted the virtual groundbreaking marked an exciting day, even if it lacked the customary gold painted shovels.

“This is an exciting milestone for a critical infrastructure project that will transform the way people travel in and around the Broadway corridor and create good-paying jobs to support B.C.’s economic recovery,” said Minister Fleming. “Investments in public transit infrastructure are crucial to improving commute times, reducing carbon pollution and laying the foundation for strong economic growth.”

The Broadway Subway Project will extend the SkyTrain Millennium Line 5.7 kilometers (3.5 miles) from VCC-Clark Station to Broadway and Arbutus. The C$2.83-billion (US$2.34-billion) subway project, which is set to begin service in 2025, will be funded by the government of British Columbia, which is contributing C$1.83 billion (US$1.51 billion), the government of Canada, which is contributing C$896.9 million (US$740.18 million) and the city of Vancouver, which is contributing C$99.8 million (US$82.36 million).

“This project will help reduce traffic congestion, commute times and air pollution, while keeping pace with the city’s growing population. Canada’s infrastructure plan invests in thousands of projects, creates jobs across the country and builds cleaner, more inclusive communities,” said Canada’s Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine McKenna.

The Broadway Subway Project will provide access for communities to the province’s second largest jobs center, health services and an emerging hub of innovation and research. The corridor where the project is being built will provide additional options to transit users and deliver much needed capacity to the 99 B Line, which is the busiest bus line in North America.

TransLink Interim CEO Gigi Chen-Kuo explained the transit provider anticipates ridership to return to between 70 percent and 90 percent of pre-COVID-19 levels by the end of the year but stressed the importance of providing transit that will meet the needs of the future.

“As we continue to welcome more customers back to transit, the Broadway Subway Project’s groundbreaking marks a major milestone in the development of our regional transportation network,” said Chen-Kuo. “This extension will help reduce congestion and greenhouse gas emissions, while better connecting the region with an excellent transportation option for our customers.”

The Broadway Subway Project includes five kilometers (3.1 miles) of bored tunnel, 700 meters (2.296 feet) of elevated structure and six underground stations. Two tunnel boring machines are expected to launch next year.

To keep people traveling through the station blocks on Broadway while excavation and construction continues underground, the project will utilize traffic decks that will be supported by steel plates on top of drilled vertical columns.

The joint venture of Acciona-Ghella finalized its contract with the province to deliver the Broadway Subway Project through a contract valued at C$1.73 billion (US$1.43 billion) last September. Thales was selected to provide the line’s CBTC signaling system.

“We are excited to begin the major works on this signature project, which will help put Vancouver back to work,” said Carlos Planelles, managing director of Acciona North America. “When completed, the Broadway Subway Project will slash pollution and commuter times, bringing safe, comfortable modern transit to one of the busiest transit corridors in metro Vancouver.”

Over the past several months, work on the Broadway Subway Project has focused on site preparation, building demolition and utility relocations. Acciona says work will begin later this year on the elevated guideway and tunnel portal. Traffic deck construction will begin at Mount Pleasant Station in the coming weeks, according to the province.

Based on May 13, 2021, conversion rate of C$1 = US$0.82

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Group Editorial Director

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine and group editorial director of the Infrastructure and Aviation Group at Endeavor Business Media. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the editorial direction of the group and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.