Valley Line Southeast LRT extension on track for summer opening, no date set: TransEd

A train rides along the tracks of the Valley Line LRT along 66 Street at 34 Avenue Wednesday, June 22, 2022. Global News

The contractor behind Edmonton’s Valley Line Southeast LRT said it is still on track to open the line this summer, but an exact date has not been released.

In an update on the project Wednesday morning, TransEd — the public-private partner building the 13-kilometre line connecting downtown with Mill Woods — said an exact opening date will be provided closer to when the line will be ready for passengers.

“I’m happy to report that right now we are still holding and maintaining our date of this summer. We will open the LRT this summer,” TransEd spokesperson Dallas Lindskoog said.

“We are still confident in summer of this year… We will give you a firm date when we get close. We’re not far from being able to do that.

“Our partners with the city will be the first to know and very, very shortly after that the media, all of our stakeholders, community leagues — they’ll find out as well.”

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The line was originally slated to be ready for passengers in December 2020 before being delayed to the end of 2021. In October 2021, the opening was delayed again to the first quarter of 2022.

Then in December 2021, another delay was announced, this time to the summer of 2022. At the time, an exact opening date was not provided.

Lindskoog admits the project hasn’t been without challenges.

“We’ve had the pandemic, the public knows of course about our surprise piece of concrete that was found in the river bank. It’s been a complicated job,” he said.

“But our focus is to make sure that we open this line when it’s completely ready.”

Click to play video: 'Valley Line LRT opening delayed again'
Valley Line LRT opening delayed again

Lindskoog said the line is now fully integrated, with the train and traffic signals working at various intersections along the alignment. The intersection at 34 Avenue and 66 Street went fully online and active last week, Lindskoog said. Since then, 36A Avenue, 38 Avenue and several pedestrian crosswalks have also gone online.

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Lindskoog said there are a total of 47 crossings along the line — both vehicle and pedestrian — where the train interfaces with the public. Five of them are already online, and a couple more will be added within the next few days. Lindskoog said all 47 crossings will be online within two to three weeks.

“The milestone today is really the point where we can now operate the train under its designed conditions and the signal system under its designed conditions,” he said. “That means we no longer need the flag people that have been at intersections helping escort the trains through intersections safely and keep the traffic stopped while the testing and commissioning has been going on.

“They’ve been doing a lot of tests to make sure the functionality of our traffic controls and our train controls are talking nicely together, and they’re working great. It’s been successful tests at this intersection and others, and we’ll see that progress over the coming weeks and quite quickly.”

Lindskoog said intersection testing will continue to progress in the coming days and weeks, moving north along 66 Street into the downtown core. Driver training, which has been underway for months, is also ongoing.

“Once all of the intersections are fully activated, gone through all their testing, they’re safety certified and we’ve removed the flag people, that moves us to another major milestone which is our line-wide testing,” he said.

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Trains are currently running 24 hours a day, with ongoing testing and commissioning work. Lindskoog said drivers, pedestrians and cyclists will have to get used to the new system. One of the biggest changes will be no right turns on red lights at a lot of the signals along the alignment, he said.

“The reason we have the no right on red is to make sure that a driver is being protected from perhaps not seeing a train approaching in their blind spot.”

The cost of the project is $1.8 billion.

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