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Extreme cold causes 2nd crack in LRT line in south Edmonton

Extreme cold causes 2nd crack in LRT line in south Edmonton
WATCH ABOVE: Maintenance crews successfully repaired a cracked rail line along the LRT in south Edmonton near Southgate Centre Wednesday morning. However, maintenance crews on scene say a second crack has occurred south of where the original crack happened.  Kendra Slugoski has the details.

Maintenance crews successfully repaired a cracked rail line along the LRT in south Edmonton near Southgate Centre Wednesday morning. However, a second crack occurred south of where the original crack happened so crews will be working through the night again to repair the line.

The original crack happened Tuesday near 51 Avenue, and the affected section of rail stretched from near Southgate Centre mall to 57 Avenue along 111 Street.

The cracks are a result of the extremely cold temperatures in Edmonton, according to the city, which also proved extremely difficult for crews working on the repair.

“It was extremely challenging last night for our staff,” said Trevor Dennehy, general supervisor of transit facilities. “We experienced a ton of equipment failures, vehicle breakdowns.

READ MORE: Extreme cold warnings in place in Alberta, wind chills of -40 expected in some regions

“Just the type of tasks we had to do, we had to work with small tools,” he continued. “People had to take the gloves off to work with the tools so keeping our hands warm was a challenge.

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“For the most part everybody was out there continuously. At times we were out there for an hour or two straight.”

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Edmonton early morning weather forecast: Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Edmonton early morning weather forecast: Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The original crack was repaired by about 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. The fix is temporary, but Dennehy said it will hold until crews can get out and do the full repair in the spring.

Dennehy said the second crack happened on the rail line near 34 Avenue at around 1 a.m. Wednesday.

READ MORE: What wind chill is and how cold can lead to frostbite, hypothermia

Crews will be back out around 7 p.m. to start the second repair, with the goal of having it fixed by 4 a.m. Thursday to avoid disruptions during the morning commute.

“We learned some tips and tricks from working in the cold last night so we’re hoping this will go smoother and we can finished quicker,” Dennehy said.

“It’s been 10 years since we’ve had a piece of cracked rail occur in our system and we’ve never ever had it occur at a grade crossing.”

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LRT riders were told to expect delays Wednesday morning, as trains were running at reduced service. Replacement buses were running between the Century Park and University stations.

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Metro Line trains were back up and running Wednesday morning, with normal service between the Century Park and NAIT stations.

 

Edmonton Transit System LRT crossing at 51 Avenue and 111 Street in south Edmonton on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020.
Edmonton Transit System LRT crossing at 51 Avenue and 111 Street in south Edmonton on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020. Dave Carels, Global News

Edmonton transit staff have been manually controlling the traffic-signalling system for the LRT in the affected section. That will continue as crews work through the night again to repair the second crack, Dennehy said.

“We hope that we can go back to full signal operation of the gates in automatic mode by 2 a.m.”

READ MORE: What warrants an extreme cold warning in Canada? Depends where you are

Edmonton cold snap cripples roads, commutes and LRT track
Edmonton cold snap cripples roads, commutes and LRT track

With files from Karen Bartko, Global News.

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