Edmonton Metro LRT extension public hearing postponed

Edmonton city councillors discuss Metro LRT Line problems on Dec. 5, 2017. Global News

A public hearing on the Metro LRT Line extension was postponed Tuesday to Jan. 22.

City council was scheduled to hear from speakers on the concept plans and crossing assessments of the Metro Line extension.

Last week, the Alberta government announced it was committing $131 million toward the expansion of the line to Blatchford. The federal government committed funding in September 2016 to support a number of transit projects, including the validation and preliminary design on the Metro Line extension.

READ MORE: New money for Metro LRT approved as part of Edmonton budget talks

The concept plan for the 11-kilometre northwest extension was approved by city council in 2014. The preliminary design began in May 2017 and allowed for the assessment and incorporation of new information such as updated planning and design requirements, new plans and policies, land use and development potential and public engagement. The city said it’s led to a number of amendments to the concept plan.

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When the south LRT extends from Century Park through Twin Brooks, the train will not have priority signalling like you see everywhere else on the Capital Line. That’s from Councillor Michael Walters who raised concerns during Tuesday’s brief council review of what was supposed to be a public hearing on LRT expansion, that didn’t happen.

“What I’ve heard from administration is we have the ability to consider passive priority. Now whether that’s a real thing?” he told Global News.

A Twin Brooks LRT station is planned for 12 Avenue NW, which will be at-grade, Walters said.

“The inclusion of the station essentially locks in the at-grade crossings, so there’s real questions that people in that neighbourhood have about the intersection and how that intersection will perform about whether or not we can change the style of train from full priority to passive priority, meaning it’ll stop at lights during rush hour.”

Whether it’ll be an open air station like at Belgravia/McKernan, is also still a mystery.

“We don’t know that yet. It’s a station on a spot. The design of the station, there’s questions about that. So I’m working to organize some community meetings in Twin Brooks in early December so that I can have administration there to ask all of these questions.”

Without priority signalling, the train would stop at traffic lights, just like the trams that are coming on the Valley Line.

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The long-term goal of the Capital Line is to extend to a new park and ride that will open in 2020, replacing the parking lot at Century Park. The Alberta government has also announced a new hospital for Ellerslie Road.

READ MORE: New Metro LRT plan includes Thales deadline, bridge over Yellowhead, proposed train to St. Albert

long-term Metro LRT plan would have the line advance from the NAIT station through Blatchford and eventually up to a park-and-ride at Campbell Road near St. Albert. City administration has recommended a bridge over a portion of the Yellowhead and the CN Walker Yard, which the city said has been supported by public feedback.

“We’re proposing a bridge, a cable-stayed bridge. We’re still working with CN Rail on some of the details regarding the bridge itself and we’re still finalizing the design,” said Nat Alampi, the city’s director of LRT infrastructure delivery, in September.

The city said discussions regarding the bridge are ongoing with CN, and the final design and method of the crossing could still change, pending an agreement between the two sides.

READ MORE: Edmonton’s Metro Line suffers yet another signalling issue: crossing arms come down on green light

Alampi said the team has also looked at a tunneling option but the cable bridge is less costly, less risky and would also offers a pathway for pedestrians and cyclists.

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The city’s final recommendations were supposed to be taken to city council for approval as part of the public hearing. The amendments to the Metro Line plan are expected to be discussed at that rescheduled meeting on Jan. 22.

The Metro Line extension is proposed in two phases — from a new station at NAIT, into Blatchford then Phase Two: Blatchford to Campbell Road.

— With files from 630 CHED senior reporter Scott Johnson.

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