June 13, 2017 8:01 pm

Esslinger, Loken formally put express bus route to northwest Edmonton on agenda

The land for the Blatchford redevelopment site in Edmonton, June 12, 2014

Vinesh Pratap, Global News

Armed with new information on how quickly passengers could commute from the northwest part of the Edmonton to downtown, Councillors Bev Esslinger and Dave Loken put the rest of city council on notice Tuesday that they’re serious about creating a new bus service as a precursor to LRT.

The two have formally asked for a report outlining what’s needed to construct a bridge connecting Blatchford to the rest of north Edmonton over the Yellowhead Trail and CN yards. The idea is the bridge one day would serve as part of the route for an extended Metro Line LRT.

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“This is very relevant and I think very timely,” Loken told reporters after questions were raised last week at a council committee meeting where he expressed frustration that the south half of the city was jumping the queue for LRT service.

Loken is now arguing armed with numbers after doing some research with transportation staff on commute times.

“It could potentially result in a 13- to 15-minute bus ride from Castle Downs Road to Blatchford Field with an express bus lane.”

READ MORE: Battle shaping up over LRT priorities on Edmonton city council

Coun. Esslinger said she’s heard from plenty of people who don’t like the potential one-hour ride that has to work its way around to a couple of entry ways through the CN yards to get to downtown.

“We continue to hear from residents that it’s really important for them to get access to the LRT system, and this would do it in a faster way,” she said.

“There would have to be some stops obviously, but the fact that it would have its own dedicated lane that would take it from probably somewhere between 132 Avenue – going from the concept plan anyway – over the (CN) tracks, it would be clear sailing for a bus to do so,” Loken said. “No cars would be allowed on it. So just having that clear way like that would significantly cut down on time.”

He said the administration helped write the inquiry that was entered at city council on Tuesday.

“I actually have been contacted by the St. Albert Chamber of Commerce who’s concerned about us potentially delaying the reality of LRT even longer to the northwest because they’re ready to go.”

READ MORE: Edmonton approves $510M for Yellowhead Trail upgrades

A cost estimate for a bridge was in the range of $100 million to $200 million when it was given following a council committee meeting last week.

Esslinger is hoping some savings can be found if it can be coordinated with the $1-billion project to convert the Yellowhead into a freeway.

“Maybe we can build once and do all these things at one time,” she said.

Preliminary public consultation on the Metro Line into Blatchford has already begun Esslinger said.

“Many folks are focusing on the LRT and we’re saying maybe there’s a way to get this part done sooner and that might open up that door. We’ll have a demonstrator in ridership, it might move the need for the line up as well.”

The report the inquiry will generate will be before city council in March of 2018.






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