City prepares for major changes to popular River Valley trails, footbridge

Watch above: Major changes are coming to the River Valley. A popular footbridge is scheduled to be torn down in 2016 as part of the southeast LRT expansion. As Slav Kornik shows us, the city is deciding how to reroute trails in the area during construction.

EDMONTON – As construction plans for the southeast LRT line to Mill Woods move forward, the City of Edmonton is seeking advice on how best to re-route some River Valley trails surrounding a popular downtown footbridge.

Part of the Valley Line construction process means the Cloverdale footbridge will be torn out to make way for a bridge for the LRT. While it’s not scheduled to be demolished for a couple of years, and a new pedestrian bridge will be built underneath the LRT bridge, many who regularly use the pathway aren’t pleased with the city’s decision to remove it.

“I just absolutely find this a marvelous gem in the middle of the city,” says Joanne McKinnon, a Rossdale resident who uses the bridge nearly every day. “I think it’s really quite shortsighted of the council and I’m disappointed in the mayor, actually, backing this.”

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Dana Mauer, an avid cyclist, believes removing the bridge is a real shame and loss for the city.

“Anybody who has used this bridge frequently… all the runners in town, all the cyclists, all the dragon boating people, are really familiar with the importance of this bridge.”

READ MORE: Group rallies to save central Edmonton footbridge from demolition

It’s not just the footbridge that’s in jeopardy; the nearly three-year construction process will also impact nearby trails. As a result, the city has launched a survey to find out how best to reroute the trails during construction.

From May 20-31, city staffers will be stopping people on the bridge to ask them a few questions.

“The purpose of that survey is to understand how people are using it for commuting and recreational purposes,” explains Jason Darrah, director of public communications with the City of Edmonton. “Everybody comes from a different location. We have people coming from Riverdale, Cloverdale, further up the ravine, so knowing where they come from will help in the rerouting.”

Video cameras have also been tracking the volume on the bridge for the past several days.

“They’re on all the time and then certain time segments, people will be looking at the data and analyzing for the volume that goes through,” adds Darrah.

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While the city says it understands the frustrations of those who use the bridge, Darrah says extensive research went into making sure the correct route was selected for the LRT crossing.

“The future bridge will have a pedestrian crossing in this exact same location. It won’t disturb any other parts of the River Valley, so this is a great route. It’s the optimal route.”

But, those against the demolition just hope there may be time to change the city’s mind.

“Redirect it somewhere where people really want it to go through. Have another look at this and just don’t destroy something that’s really, really valuable,” says McKinnon.

“I think it’s just kind of an Edmonton landmark, this footbridge, and if we don’t respect our landmark aspects of our city, if this footbridge can go then what’s next?” adds Mauer.

Construction on the Valley Line is slated to begin in 2016.

The city’s survey can also be answered online. For more information, visit the City of Edmonton’s website.

With files from Slav Kornik, Global News.