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Busy west Edmonton intersection focus of LRT info session Wednesday night

Click to play video 'Edmonton west LRT expansion could be separated from traffic' Edmonton west LRT expansion could be separated from traffic
WATCH ABOVE: The next area LRT trains are slated to go is west Edmonton and now there's talk of separating the trains from traffic along some major intersections. Vinesh Pratap filed this report in December 2016.

Edmonton residents interested in having a say on the final design of the west leg of the LRT and how the line will interact with two major intersections are invited to attend two public engagement sessions. The first session takes place Wednesday night.

The second stage of the Valley Line LRT will see a 14-kilometre stretch built between downtown and Lewis Farms in west Edmonton. The city is holding the session to hear from residents – particularly those who live, work and commute in and through the area.

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

Ward 1 Coun. Andrew Knack said one of the main topics will be the high-volume intersection of Stony Plain Road and 149 Street, and whether the LRT should be raised above or tunnelled below the major intersection.

“The point of tonight is to just see what people’s appetite is for this,” Knack said.

“I’m inclined to think it’s going to be quite high, having talked about this for the last 10 years with people,” he laughed. “It is important that we have that conversation just to get some feedback.”

Another session will be held next week to discuss the crossing at 178 Street and 87 Avenue — a busy intersection at the southwest corner of West Edmonton Mall.

The city said elevating the west LRT line over both major intersections would add between $50 million and $75 million to the overall cost, which is currently pegged at $1.8 billion.

Going under would be even more expensive: the city estimates an underground section would cost $175 to $200 million.

“Generally speaking, when you take LRT above ground, it’s typically three to five times as much,” Knack said. “To go below, it’s five to 10 times as much.”

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READ MORE: LRT through downtown Edmonton will have a maximum speed of 30 km/h

Preliminary engineering for the west leg was done in 2013 and the city said it is now ready to review and refine the design, since it’s been four years since the original work took place.

The city said this an important step and will position the project for construction when additional funds becomes available. The west leg is the city’s top transit priority when it comes to seeking federal and provincial funding.

“A number of years ago they said, ‘This is going to run down the middle of the road.’ If there are those partnership opportunities and somebody says, ‘We would love to get it on our property because we want to do this,’ what’s the cost? What’s the impact and what would they be having to put into that, to shift it a couple of feet here or there?” Knack said.

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

The first stage of the Valley Line – from downtown to Mill Woods – is currently under construction.

WATCH: If you’ve driven through southeast Edmonton lately, you’ve likely encountered the construction. Much of it is for the new Valley Line LRT and it has one local business owner up in arms. Sarah Kraus explains.

Click to play video 'Edmonton business owner voices concern about Valley Line LRT construction' Edmonton business owner voices concern about Valley Line LRT construction
Edmonton business owner voices concern about Valley Line LRT construction

Earlier this year, city council discussed changing the design of the Mill Woods line by raising the LRT around Bonnie Doon Mall, thus separating the trains from vehicle traffic. The idea was to raise the line over five intersections along a corridor with 83 Street and have a raised station at the mall.

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City council rejected the idea, saying the $220-million price tag was too steep as the changes wouldn’t make a significant difference to traffic congestion.

READ MORE: Edmonton city councillors reject $220M elevated LRT option

Wednesday’s public engagement session will take place at the West End Christian Reformed Church (10015 – 149 St.) from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

An info session on the 178 Street and 87 Avenue crossing will take place Thursday, June 29 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Aldergrove Community Hall (8535 – 182 St.)