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Updated: 7th January 2019 03:22

Airport tunnel agreement inches closer

The head of the Calgary Airport Authority says while it's not a priority for the airport to build a tunnel under a new runway, he understands that it's important to the city.

The airport tunnel, with possible roadwork and LRT expansions. (City of Calgary )The head of the Calgary Airport Authority says while it's not a priority for the airport to build a tunnel under a new runway, he understands that it's important to the city.

Garth Atkinson answered questions for over an hour on Monday from council members, and the prospects for going ahead with the $300-million underground traffic route was a key topic.

Negotiations between the airport authority and the city are continuing, Atkinson said.

"Well, we've been at it since last fall…so, I would say that the parties are making progress and we're certainly hopeful that a conclusion will be reached as soon as possible. We're both motivated of course to reach a conclusion as soon as possible, but time is marching on," he said.

Council voted in February to push ahead with the project. It is a key priority for Mayor Naheed Nenshi.

He dismissed Atkinson's opinion that the airport doesn't need the tunnel.

"Yeah he's wrong.  He's been wrong on that for a long time, but the point is, we're doing something good for the city and ultimately will be good for them as well," Nenshi said.

The airport is building a new 4,270-metre runway, which forced the closure of Barlow Trail between 48th Avenue and Airport Road N.E. earlier this month.

A tunnel would compensate for the loss of that route to the airport. It would go underneath the new runway, linking Airport Trail (96th Avenue N.E.) on the west side with 36th Street N.E. on the other side.

Atkinson said he hopes a deal will be reached with the city by mid-May.

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