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Federal injection for Evergreen Line: Falcon

B.C. Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon emerged from a meeting with his western provincial counterparts and the federal transport minister with optimistic words for local transit, but no commitments.

"The message is, [the federal government] wants to move quickly ... to get projects into the ground," Falcon told reporters after meetings held to discuss infrastructure and economic issues.

Falcon said senior governments were "dotting the I's and crossing the T's" on an agreement that would push construction of the long-awaited northeast Evergreen Line finally on track.

"I feel very confident in the minister's support for that particular project," Falcon said.

The Evergreen Line is one of several immediate projects Falcon is touting as a wish list for federal government support. The much-delayed project was once to have begun construction last year, but is now scheduled to be completed in 2014.

The project costs, too, have mushroomed. What once was an $800 million envelope for a light-rail project is now a $1.4-billion line using SkyTrain technology.

The province has penciled in the feds to ante up some $3.11 billion of B.C.'s $11.1 billion long-term transit plan announced earlier this year.

Falcon said he did not discuss TransLink's overall funding with the federal government.

The regional transit authority is projecting a $103-million shortfall next year.

Irwin Loy writes for 24 Hours and appears regularly on the Hook.

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