Elevating Valley Line LRT in Bonnie Doon could quicken commutes but could be pricey: report

Click to play video 'Elevated Valley Line LRT isn’t getting much support' Elevated Valley Line LRT isn’t getting much support
WATCH ABOVE: Ground has already broken on the Valley Line LRT but a new report looking into elevating the line isn't getting much love from city councillors. Julia Wong explains – Apr 15, 2017

A new report suggests the city may have the Valley Line LRT elevated as it passes through the Bonnie Doon area. But the cost would be as much as an additional $220 million.

The LRT contract with TransEd could be reopened to make some traffic changes in the Bonnie Doon area.

If city council chooses that option, six houses south of Whyte Avenue would have to be torn down, at a cost equal to market value.

A raised station would be created at Bonnie Doon Mall, and the LRT on stilts would cover five intersections along a corridor with 83 Street.

READ MORE: IN PICTURES: Ready to ride? New images reveal more of what Edmontonians can expect from LRT’s Valley Line

The report is in response to a council inquiry about grade separation on the Metro Line heading into Blatchford. They don’t appear to have an appetite to raise the price tag in Bonnie Doon.

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“I think the area around Kingsway is more of a concern,” Coun. Scott McKeen said. “We’ve talked about grade separation there and we’ll be talking about grade separation in the west end as well. So this one I don’t think is probably going to end up the highest priority.”

Coun. Andrew Knack said the request for grade separation estimates for the west is because of the heavier traffic patterns there, and the proximity to West Edmonton Mall. That station will already be elevated.

“I have a feeling that what we would see in the west are quite a bit more significant delays, so we’ll have that report coming (in June) before shovels hit the ground for the west line,” he said. “I think that might be a better use of those finances.”

“I know this council’s specifically requested a report around grade separation for the west line because we wanted to have that information before we went out to tender,” Knack added. “Make sure we’re going out to tender with exactly what we’re looking for.”

The report lists pros such as improving traffic flow and train movement by 20 to 30 seconds when the line first opens, and total end to end travel on the Valley Line LRT by as much as two minutes.

As a con, the report said construction would be delayed half a year and the proposed structure of the elevated LRT would create aesthetic problems, cutting one neighborhood off from another. It would also go against the spirit of the urban design-low floor trains that McKeen said would mix in well with, stopping and starting at red and green lights.

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“They’ll flow much better with traffic, and if I’m reading that report, I’ve only had a cursory glance at (it), there aren’t huge traffic tieups because of it. So $220 million, that’s a lot of money if we’re talking 30-40 second delays.”

Council’s executive committee will review the report Tuesday.