The City of Edmonton hasn’t had the best track record when it comes to construction projects, but work on the river valley funicular is running on time and on budget.
The Mechanized River Valley Access project – a tram that moves up and down from 100 Street near the Hotel Macdonald to the river valley near the Low Level Bridge – is nearing completion.
The funicular is installed and being tested. The canopy has also been installed at the promontory, electrical work has been finished, as has precast concrete work.
Jesse Banford, director for facility infrastructure and delivery with the City of Edmonton, said Tuesday that work on the project is about 90 per cent complete.
“What you see is this awesome project that is coming together that provides that connectivity from bottom of bank to top of bank for the city of Edmonton,” he said. “Also that destination spot where you’ll start to see a lot of people coming down here to have their lunch and enjoy sitting around and the ability to just get down to the bottom of the river (valley).”
Banford said the funicular will be able to accommodate about 20 people at a time.
Installation of light fixtures and glass railings along the urban stair still needs to be completed, as does bridge work, installation and commissioning of the elevator and installation of the art project.
The funicular is designed to provide universal access to the river valley. Those with mobility issues can take the funicular to one level, then use an elevator to go down to the river valley trail system.
“You come in, push the button, wait for the funicular to come up, walk through, push the button to go down and it’ll take you down to the bottom promenade,” Banford said.
The project also has stairs and seating areas so users can sit and relax.
“The bottom promenade area is a nice seating area and it’s also the area where we have the art installation which is a bunch of seating – it’s called The Turbulent – where the furniture looks like the waves along the river,” Banford said.
According to Banford, the funicular will be closed to the public at night and will likely follow similar operating hours to those of city parks. He said the funicular travels at about two metres per second and when factoring in walking and time waiting for the funicular, total travel time to get to the bottom of the river bank is about eight minutes.
The funicular is part of Edmonton’s River Valley Alliance projects and comes at a cost of $24 million.
In 2013, Edmonton received $72.9 million in funding from the River Valley Alliance and the provincial and federal governments, for five projects that increase access to the river valley.
The project is scheduled to be complete this fall.
-With files from Phil Heidenreich