In its 2021 construction season, the City of Edmonton will work on 268 capital projects, employing an estimated 13,000 people.
On Tuesday, the city said current construction projects include bridges, LRT expansion, freeway conversions, neighbourhood renewal, new playgrounds and park upgrades.
“The $1 billion that will be spent this year on capital construction is an investment in this city we love,” said Adam Laughlin, deputy city manager for Integrated Infrastructure Services.
“It’s an investment in our future. We are planning and building a city where people want to live, where they feel that they belong, where they have opportunities to thrive, and where they can freely access everything that makes Edmonton great.”
In a news release, the city said capital projects strengthen Edmonton’s economic recovery, by providing jobs and hiring more than 300 businesses, subcontractors and suppliers that are locally owned or based in Edmonton.
The city said 93 per cent of its capital projects are on budget and 79 per cent are on schedule.
Neighbourhood renewal is continuing in various communities: Garneau, Malmo Plains, Lorelei and Calder, Alberta Avenue, Canora, West Jasper Place, Central MacDougal, Highlands, Inglewood, Strathcona, Eastwood, Elmwood and Grandview Heights.
“Downtown, the work revitalizing both ends of Jasper Avenue continues,” Laughlin said. “Work on Imagine Jasper from 109 to 111 streets began in February and is expected to be completed this fall.”
This year, Laughlin says groundwork will be laid for Valley Line West LRT.
“TransEd is in the final stages of construction, with all road works underway, including final reconstruction and paving. They’re working towards opening the line in late 2021.”
Construction needs to be finished on the Valley Line SE.
“There’s a transmission/testing component they have to work through to ensure the system is running as intended,” he explained.
Asked if he’s confident the LRT will meet its end-of-2021 deadline, Laughlin replied: “What I would say is there’s still a lot of work to do and it’s on them to make sure they get that work done. One thing we won’t do is jeopardize quality.”
For the Metro Line extension from NAIT to Blatchford, work continues on utilities, track installation, work on stations, platforms and utility buildings.
Sustainability is top of mind for the city and that is particularly evident at the Blatchford development.
“The vision is to create one of the world’s largest sustainable communities,” Laughlin said. “It will be home to up to 30,000 Edmontonians.
“The first stage of this development aims to use 100 per cent renewable energy, be carbon neutral and empower its residents to pursue a range of sustainable life choices.”
He added work at Blatchford is progressing well.
“We’ve got three builders that are on board, currently constructing homes for Edmontonians. They’re in Stage 1. There’s prep work going into Stage 2.”
Terwillegar Drive expansion
“Construction begins on the Terwillegar Drive expansion, which will create a safe, efficient transportation, which will offer choices to multiple modes of transportation,” Laughlin said.
Yellowhead Trail freeway conversion
This project will make the road safer, increase capacity and improve service by the end of 2027, Laughlin said.
Also along the Yellowhead, the city is continuing work on widening the road by the river, from the Beverly Bridge to 66 Street.
Other road projects
The city is awarding a tender for Fort Road improvements, starting work on 149 Street – 156 Street – St. Albert Trail, design and planning for 127 Street continues.
Crews are also repairing bridges and filling potholes.
This year, 84,000 potholes have been filled year-to-date compared to 79,000 this time last year.
“We know that construction can be disruptive,” Laughlin said. “We encourage Edmontonians to plan their routes ahead of time.”
He also suggested using the traffic disruption map for updated closures, detours and delays.
The city is also doing seasonal maintenance on spray parks right now and those will open at the end of June.
“We have ambitious goals this season,” Laughlin said. “But we’ve done it before. 2020 was a major year for construction in Edmonton. We’ll do it again. And safely.”
— With files from Sarah Ryan, Global News