The bulk of the work is just about to get underway for what is a massive construction site that stretches 13 kilometres from downtown to Mill Woods. It will mean traffic headaches this year and next in and around the Valley Line LRT.
“It is probably the largest urban construction project in Edmonton’s history when you consider how much construction is going on simultaneously across the city,” said Dean Heuman, TransEd’s stakeholder relations manager.
The biggest point of congestion right now is 75 Street, he said.
“We’re down to one lane in each direction. That’s probably going to be for another eight weeks or so. Most of the barricades will go away but there will always be a pinch point just south of Wagner Road.”
“Eighty-third (Street) is going to be a permanent closure of one lane in each direction,” Heuman added. “There will be lots of notice but we want to tell people now that it’s happening in July, so they start to adjust their driving habits. And 95 Avenue, there’ll be no parking on the roads and one lane in each direction.”
Other parts of the construction include noise and retaining walls deep in Mill Woods, and also along Connors Road. The Bonnie Doon traffic circle is also going to be replaced with a full intersection.
This is the worst of it, he cautioned to reporters at the Gerry Wright Operations and Maintenance Facility work site off 75 Street at 51 Avenue.
“So when we’re pushing people off 75 Street — and I can tell you right now, we’re definitely pushing them to 50 Street and to the west — any traffic that they’re bearing now is greater than anything than what they’ll get from when the LRT is operating.”
That will be through next year, but once the track is laid, comes the next phase of preparing for the December 2020 launch. That’s the delivery of the rail cars.
“We expect we’re probably taking delivery in 2018 of our first couple of cars and trains,” he said, insisting they’re on time and on budget.
“Late 2018, early 2019, because they’ll have to do testing.”
Heuman said TransEd is confident Bombardier will be able to deliver, because Edmonton isn’t facing the same problems Toronto is.
“We have a very similar car to every other system that has been ordering them: Kitchener-Waterloo, Ottawa, some of the other places around the world.
“They’re a very stock car. It’s going to have different colouring. But it’s a very stock car, and my understanding is that Toronto has ordered a custom gauge and custom cars and that is causing them some of their delays.”
“The urgency to build the 160,000-square foot operations and maintenance building is happening because of that vehicle delivery. That’s one of the reasons why there is a push on this building. We have to have a place to bring those cars.”
As for downtown, they’re staying away from there this summer, so this year’s festival season won’t be touched.