Cost of Edmonton’s 50 Street rail crossing project increases by $34M

Traffic tied up due to a train on 50 Street near the Sherwood Park Freeway in Edmonton. Shaye Ganam/Global News

The cost of the planned overpass at the 50 Street train crossing in east Edmonton has increased by $34.3 million.

The at-grade rail Canadian Pacific Railway crossing has been a headache for drivers for years. Planning is underway for a project that will see an overpass built to separate 50 Street from the railway tracks at 82 Avenue. The project also includes widening 50 Street from four lanes to six between Sherwood Park Freeway and 90 Avenue.

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Edmonton city staff outlined the $34.3-million increased cost in a report debated at city council on Monday. In it, city staff said the construction tender was issued in February and closed in March. The recommended tender bid received was higher than the estimated construction budget, resulting in an overall increase in the project from $145.3 million to $179.6 million.

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Administration said several factors contributed to the increase in the overall project cost, including geopolitical trade conflicts, disruptions in the construction industry due to COVID-19, increased demands from other infrastructure spending and significant cost increases of several commodities specific to the project.

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Edmonton 50 Street crossing, Coronation Park rec centre expected to be over budget

An additional $34.3 million is required to proceed with construction, city staff said.

Of the additional $34.3 million, administration said it has secured an additional $1.3 million in the cost-sharing agreement with CP Rail. That brings the CP Rail contribution to the project to $2.8 million.

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City staff said the project ranks among the top three priority locations for grade separation in the city, based on delays and the number of vehicles impacted, as well as the frequency of train crossings.

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On average, eight full trains cross the train tracks every day. Each day, the train performs an average of 25 back-and-forth movements — or shunts — to build trains.

The city estimated about 35,000 vehicles cross the tracks each day. The train movements can lead to an average wait time of four minutes for drivers, with some blockages lasting more than 15 minutes.

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During Monday’s council meeting, councillors unanimously approved adjustments to the budget to fund the project.

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