January 23, 2018 2:53 pm
Updated: January 23, 2018 8:30 pm

Edmonton exploring idea of trenches for northwest LRT expansion

WATCH ABOVE: In order to deal with traffic congestion, Edmonton city planners are looking at trenched options for three parts of the LRT expansion. Vinesh Pratap reports.

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Tracks for the Metro Line northwest LRT expansion project could run in trenches at several busy intersections, as a way of avoiding traffic congestion.

The idea of using trenches for the rail lines is being presented at a few open houses in Edmonton this week.

Trenching would see trains go below ground, but not completely underground.

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LRT tracks would be built into trenches under covered intersections where the track crosses 137 Avenue, Castle Downs, 127 Street, 142 Street and the intersection of 153 Avenue with Castle Downs Road.

The city estimates more than 34,000 vehicles travel along 137 Avenue every day.

The City of Edmonton said while at-grade LRT is better for urban design, environment and construction feasibility, the trenched option is better for traffic flow and network operations.

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Both options are equally good for transit user access, according to the designs being presented to residents.

The trenched option would add significant cost to the $1.8-billion line, but would be less expensive than going fully underground or overground.

City planners at the open house Tuesday said trenching is about five times as expensive as keeping the LRT at surface level, while going completely underground is about 10 times as expensive.

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“Every time we go to the public, traffic congestion is one of the biggest issues that we hear and one of the biggest challenges we face when we build these projects because it’s also balancing cost, it’s balancing urban integration, as well as the network operations,” said Scott MacIntosh, project manager on the Metro LRT northwest expansion.

Map of future LRT line and transit stations. Courtesy of the City of Edmonton.

The designs are being presented at the following open houses this week:

Tuesday, Jan. 23

Castle Downs Family YMCA – 11510 – 153 Ave.
11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 25

NAIT main campus – Shaw Theatre Lobby
11762 – 106 St.
5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The northwest extension of the Metro Line LRT will see the line extended from NAIT north to Castle Downs then west to a future St. Albert park-and-ride location at 153 Avenue.

After the open houses are held, the designs and a survey will be available on the city’s website.

City planners will offer their recommendations to council by September.

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