Edmonton motorists rejoice — the federal government has committed $40 million for a new rail crossing to add grade separation at 50 Street and Sherwood Park Freeway.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the funding announcement at City Hall Tuesday morning.
The at-grade rail Canadian Pacific Railway crossing has been a headache for drivers, causing traffic to come to a standstill while a train crosses the street and often stopping on the tracks, tying up traffic even longer.
“It slows everything down really badly right now … Something does have to change when it comes to these train tracks here,” said Trevor Gordey, the manager at ABC Muffler and Hitch, which is located at 49 Street and 84 Avenue.
“Traffic is horrible,” Gordey said.
“Day to day, I’ve got employees who all live on the south side of the tracks … They’re giving themselves about half an hour for a 10-minute commute and they’re still consistently late because of that train… customers are late on a regular basis.”
Gordey said the shop has lost customers because of the delay caused by the train.
“It’s something that should have happened a long time ago, for sure. 50 Street is such a busy artery in the city.”
“While it’s been great for commerce, it has admittedly caused headaches, delays and safety issues for folks living in and travelling through this city,” Trudeau said.
“We’ve all seen the traffic backed up as the train seemingly goes on for hours. You feel the frustration when you’re late for work, late to appointments and late to pick up your kids.”
Mayor Don Iveson was in Singapore during the announcement, but his excitement over the federal funding was evident in a video he posted to Twitter.
“The 50 Street railway crossing has been something I’ve been pushing for since before I got elected as mayor, before I even was a city councillor.
“This a huge day for our city. I wanted to say, congratulations and thanks, and now we won’t have to wait for that @$&*%! train anymore,” Iveson jokingly said in the video.
But will it go over or under the train tracks? Dale Shekooley, senior communications advisor with the City of Edmonton, said that hasn’t been decided.
Shekooley said an assessment in 2010 recommended building a traffic underpass, however engineers are now assessing the area to determine whether that is still the best fit, or whether an overpass is better suited.
A decision on whether it will be an overpass or underpass is expected later this summer.
Watch below: It’s been a source of frustration for Edmonton drivers for years. Ottawa is pitching in close to $40 million to change the grade of the so-called “stupid train” crossing. Quinn Ohler has details.
The city said the federal funding, as well as funding commitments from the city and province, will allow for faster and safer travel along the corridor.
The planned improvements include widening 50 Street to six lanes between 76 and 90 Avenue as well as addressing the at-grade rail crossing, the city said.
The city said the total project cost is about $87.5 million, with the federal government covering $39.8 million, the province covering $28.3 million and the City of Edmonton funding $19.4 million.
“The CP rail tracks on 50 Street have been a long source of frustration for commuters in the Edmonton Metropolitan Region,” said Transportation Minister Brian Mason said.
“We know traffic delays are frustrating and expensive. That’s why we are making this investment to get traffic moving safely and efficiently.”
Edmonton city councillor Ben Henderson said construction could start in 2020 and last until 2023.
A public information session will be held June 26 at The King’s University where more information is expected to be shared.
WATCH: Mayor Don Iveson joined Shaye Ganam in October 2017 to talk about his goals for the next four years, including addressing transit options, better project management, and fixing those darn train backlogs.
— With files from Global’s Karen Bartko and Emily Mertz
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