Friday, June 09, 2006

PEOPLE MOVER SYSTEM

People mover progress gets NPC approval

BY RAY SPITERI
For: www.niagarafallsreview.ca



Local News - Tuesday, March 28, 2006 @ 02:00



NIAGARA FALLS Plans to create a new People Mover System received another boost Friday when Niagara Parks Commission members voted to move to the next phase in a mass transit system project.

The commission’s approval came off the heels of last Monday’s city council meeting, where its members voted to authorize a second round of bids from three companies that have already expressed interest in building and operating a system to replace the fleet of green buses the NPC runs along the Niagara Parkway.

“The people mover project is entering a new phase where a request for proposal will be developed and submitted to three bidders, so they can prepare a bid,” said John Kernahan, parks commission general manager.

The parks commission owns some of the land on which a new system would run and operate the existing transit system through the tourism area.

The request for proposal is scheduled to be completed for October and will be developed by the City of Niagara Falls, the Niagara Parks Commission, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and Falls Management Company.

“The RFP will give direction to the bidders, as well as make clear the specifications of the project,” said Kernahan.

“It will also give the bidders some leeway as it relates to coming up with an innovative design to best meet the needs of the project.”

It has been decided the system should run at ground level as opposed to an elevated track and that the north end of the alignment, near the Maid of the Mist plaza and Clifton Hill, be looped.

A decision on whether to make it a fixed-rail system like a trolley or a rubber-tired system like a bus is still up in the air.

Mitsubishi Consortium, Niagara Greenway Consortium and SNC Lavalin Engineers and Constructors are the three companies short-listed for the project.

Depending on the design, a new system could be running by 2009 or 2010, one consultant said.

For years, the city, parks commission and tourism industry have been wrestling with a way to move the growing number of tourists along a 10.5-kilometre loop connecting casino Niagara, Marineland and Table Rock House.

Kernahan said since the 1960s there has been a common vision to create a transit system which would reduce traffic congestion and provide a “comfortable, affective and affordable service for tourists who want to enjoy some of the city’s amenities.

“There have been many steps to bring us to where we are today and there will be many more before our final vision is accomplished.”

Kernahan said about 26,000 vehicles travel along the parkway each day during the peak months of July and August.

“The Niagara Parkway is not a public highway. It’s open to the public, but it’s a private road and it doesn’t serve the same purpose as the QEW or the 420.

“We want a park with a road through it rather than a road with a park around it.”

Kernahan said during the next several months, the four partners will explore all of the issues surrounding the request for proposal.

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