EDMONTON – The tone of Friday’s launch of construction for the Valley LRT line was altered when protesters showed up with signs for the groundbreaking.
A ceremony began at 11 a.m. at the site of the future Muttart Conservatory LRT stop.
Protesters with signs reading “Valley LRT destroys parks” and “save our river valley” said they’re pro LRT but want to see a different route for it so that any river valley damage would be avoided.
Specifically, the protesters don’t want to see the Cloverdale Footbridge torn down to make room for the new bridge.
“We’re standing up for the river valley. We’re also standing up for public transit that is convenient, affordable and sustainable,” protester Kristine Kowalchuk said.
Kowalchuk would like to see the city focus on Bus Rapid Transit rather than LRT lines.
The mayor stressed the city did consider other routes.
“I can’t tell you the amount of staff time that my office spent and that city engineers spent looking at alternatives, evaluating their proposals,” Don Iveson said. “Unfortunately, none of them perform as well as the route that council selected and is committed to.
“So, I hear their frustration, but it’s time to move on and build this project.”
The company that will design, build, operate, maintain and finance phase one of the line, TransEd Partners, said the LRT bridge will add to the area.
“I think this cable-stayed bridge that’s going to go across the river is going to be beautiful. It’s going to enhance the local community and the way it’s going to look and light up at night,” Larry Melton, TransEd Partners, said.
Phase 1 of the Valley Line will run from downtown to Mill Woods in the southeast, at an estimated cost of $1.8 billion. Phase 2, which is not yet funded, will run from downtown to Lewis Farms in the west end.
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Edmontonians will be watching progress of phase 1 after a list of problems with the Metro Line LRT caused it to be delayed by nearly two years and it’s still not running at full speed.
TransEd Partners is confident the city will be proud of the project once it’s complete.
“I think it’s a very good system. I’ve worked on systems in the past, and when I look at this I think it’s taking advantage of the latest technology and it’s going to be a system that everyone is going to be proud of,” Melton said.
A website was launched about the progress of the line.
The TransEd LRT Valley Line website contains information about the project, construction timelines, artists’ renditions and links to job opportunity pages for engineering firm Bechtel, train builder Bombardier and construction company EllisDon.
They, along with Fengate Capital Management, form the a four-company TransEd Partners group consortium that was awarded the Valley Line project.
Mayor Don Iveson, Alberta Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Brian Mason and Federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi will be on head for Friday’s ceremony.