A decision on the route for the expansion of Waterloo Region’s light rail transit system into Cambridge isn’t expected to come until 2018.

The region had released a preferred preliminary route earlier this year. It received nearly 400 public comments – including some suggesting ideas that transportation planners believe are worth studying further.

“We want to get it right,” Coun. Tom Galloway said in an interview.

“It’ll take some time for the staff to look at these new alternatives that people have identified, and some new opportunities that have presented themselves over the last couple of months.”

Specifics of what those alternatives and opportunities include have not been made public.

The preferred preliminary route would see light rail vehicles run from Fairview Park Mall to the Ainslie Street transit terminal, along roads including the new River Road extension, King Street East, Eagle Street, Hespeler Road and Beverly Street.

Alternatives suggested in the past have included a line running through the Preston core along King Street, as well as avoiding the Shantz Hill area by running the line along Maple Grove and Speedsville roads.

According to a report prepared for regional councillors, the preliminary preferred route received a mixture of positive and negative feedback.

More negativity was directed at the Preston part of the route than any other section, with complaints received about effects on car and rail traffic, heritage issues and impacts on existing properties.

The report says running light rail along Eagle Street would require “many or all” properties on one side of Eagle to be acquired by the region.

“It is challenging to avoid impacts in built-up areas when adding new infrastructure of this scale and magnitude,” the report reads, noting that all routes considered thus far involve “major technical challenges” due to river, highway and rail crossings.

It is also possible that the Ainslie Street terminal may not be the endpoint of the line. The report says there are “several options” under consideration for the final stop in the Galt core.

Another round of route presentations and public feedback sessions had been planned for later this year. Because of the new possibilities and alternatives that are now being considered, that now isn’t expected to happen until early 2018.

Galloway says it will likely be spring 2018 before a route is selected by regional councillors.

Building a light rail transit line along the preliminary preferred route has been estimated to cost $1.25 billion in the mid-2020s, adjusting for inflation. No money has been committed to the project by the provincial or federal governments.

With reporting by Marc Venema