Federal and municipal leaders say there’s still no timeline for when the at-grade rail crossing will be removed at 50 Street and the Sherwood Park Freeway in Edmonton.
“That particular crossing has been a longtime irritant,” federal Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi said Tuesday. “It really stifles our movement of goods and services in that part of the city and I know firsthand the impact it is having on our communities.”
Sohi was asked about the traffic headache while in Edmonton for a separate infrastructure funding announcement on Tuesday morning.
The at-grade rail crossing has long been a hot topic for motorists in Edmonton who are forced to sit and wait in traffic while the train crosses the street. Often times, trains will stop on the tracks, tying up traffic even longer.
Global Edmonton viewers will be familiar with the crossing, as it’s also become a hot topic for Shaye Ganam, who often shares his opinion of the #stupidtrain on social media. And on Monday, he caught Sohi’s attention.
Funding for the job was set aside in the Alberta NDP’s 2017 provincial budget, but little has been said of the project since.
Mayor Don Iveson has heard the frustrations loud and clear and said the project remains a “consistent priority.”
“We’ve said we want to proceed with it. We’re doing design work on it right now,” he said Tuesday. “We continue to work with the federal government to secure investment from them. I’m optimistic we’re going to get there. It’s just paperwork at this point.
“As soon as we line up the funding we want to put our design in motion and put shovels in the ground.”
As for a timeline for when that might happen?
“As soon as possible,” Iveson said. “The design work is happening right now. There’s going to be public consultation happening about some of the different route operations. We’re going to try to do it at the same time we’re widening 50 Street to six lanes.
“That will be one of the alternate corridors people will have to move around Valley Line construction and ultimately bypass the Valley Line.”
Sohi said the infrastructure funding announced Tuesday wouldn’t be available for this project, but there is trade and transportation funding cities and provinces can apply for. He said the feds have been working closely with the province on this project.
“I can’t give you the timelines but I understand this is a top priority of the province of Alberta and the City of Edmonton and we’re working closely with them to explore options to find a way for this particular issue to be dealt with.”
The Valley Line LRT to southeast Edmonton is scheduled to open in 2020.