City of Edmonton has a lot to say about new transportation ideas

An artist rendering of the new Belvedere LRT station.
An artist rendering of the new Belvedere LRT station. TransEd/City of Edmonton

Edmonton, as part of a massive information release Thursday on a whole host of projects, hosted an open house to fill Edmontonians in on LRT, bus terminals and schedules, bike routes, and a whole new design for Jasper Avenue.

TransED, the consortium building the Valley Line LRT, has visual proof now that the cars for the train are being built.

READ MORE: Edmonton’s Valley Line LRT is on time, even the Bombardier rail cars

Spokesman Dean Heuman said the photos were loaded on to the project website from Austria.

“That’s one of the first pieces that has to get built. There are pieces being built in other places and our final assembly is in Kingston but we’re excited to see the cabs in our colours, they are ours, and we’re excited to see it because it shows the progress is coming along.”

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The line to from Mill Woods to downtown will open at the end of 2020.

READ MORE: TransEd kicks off construction on Valley Line LRT Bonnie Doon stop

Opening much sooner, as in the final lanes will open on Friday, is the downtown bike grid. Dot Laing, the social marketing coordinator said the take up so far has met their expectations based on what she’s witnessed at 100 Avenue and 107 Street.

“I saw backup of at least five to six bikes at some point during the morning rush hour. It’s pretty heavy because there’s a lot of pedestrian traffic as well going to the Legislature, WCB, all those businesses or corporations around that corning by the Matrix, so it was a pretty hot intersection.”

READ MORE: Mayor seeks assurance on Edmonton LRT timeline after Bombardier concerns in Toronto

Over four Saturdays through October, the city will be conducting a pilot project along six blocks of Jasper Avenue, west of 109 Street. They will be setting up different types of lane closures, with more trees, benches, and places to walk along Jasper Avenue to give you a feel of what it’ll look like when they do it for good. They don’t want to make an expensive mistake.

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“We never tested what is does a main street mean to Edmontonians because this is a first one,” said project director Satya Gadidasu. “So we want to make sure what we are aspiring to is working for Edmontonians before we do the permanent construction with millions of dollars.”

Three new transit centres are in the works. Preliminary designs from three different architectural firms were on display for Belvedere, Castledowns and Jasper Place.

An artist rendering of the new Belvedere LRT station.
An artist rendering of the new Belvedere LRT station. TransEd/City of Edmonton
An artist rendering of the new Castledowns LRT station.
An artist rendering of the new Castledowns LRT station. TransEd/City of Edmonton

The Castledowns location is also where that bus rapid transit route, and eventually the LRT, will go if council acts on a proposal from councillors Dave Loken and Bev Esslinger. However the supervisor for transit facilities said they’re not going to over build this hub.

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“We didn’t want the existing Castledowns transit centre to be in operation for the interim period,” said Jim Stein. “It could be 10 years, it could be 15, who knows. So we wanted to build something that would give the public the amenities and enhance their ride experience.”

Edmonton Transit is cutting the bottom two per cent of its routes, based on ridership because the vehicles are needed to beef up other routes that have to turn passengers away. Route 15 from Mill Woods will increase capacity said Andrew Gregory, a senior transit planning engineer. He said once the Valley Line LRT is open then those routes will be readjusted.