EDMONTON – Just weeks ago, ground was broken on Edmonton’s largest ever construction project – the $1.8 billion first phase of the Valley LRT Line from Mill Woods to downtown.
Global News has now learned just how fast the trains will travel along each section of the line. The details are located in project agreement documents on the city’s website.
It stipulates a maximum posted speed limit of 30 kilometres per hour in the core on 102 Avenue from 96 Street to 102 Street. That’s only 5 km/h faster than the current speed on the Metro LRT line to NAIT.
When the LRT is built, it will completely change 102 Avenue. Four lanes of traffic will make way for a dedicated LRT right-of-way, a two-way bike lane and one eastbound lane of traffic.
And Global News has learned the eastbound lane will also see a speed reduction, matched to the LRT speed at 30 km/h.
The city, through an email, said the changes will be made to “allow for several safety and sightline safeguards in the area.”
The email goes to talk about “a more pedestrian friendly environment in the downtown core, particularly in consideration of the high number of festivals and family activities that take place.”
LRT planners add: “The train does not have time to accelerate to higher speeds given the frequency of stops in this area.”
Still, it leads to the question if 30 km/h is too slow. In Calgary, their LRT runs at ground level in the downtown, and the maximum speed limit is 40 km/h, according to Calgary Transit. One difference is the Calgary LRT is located in a dedicated transit only corridor, with no vehicle traffic beside it.
The project agreement also shows Valley Line trains will travel slower than the posted speed limit in other areas, including a maximum speed of 55 km/h on 75 Street at McIntyre Road to 66 Street and 28 Avenue, a five-kilometre stretch where the vehicular speed limit is 60 km/h.
For decades, Edmontonians have been accustomed to an LRT system that served as both a mass and a rapid transit system. But as the future is mapped out, including plans for phase two of the Valley Line from downtown to west Edmonton, going slower appears to be the reality.
Edmontonians will have to decide if the billions of tax dollars to be spent will be worth the investment.