The company responsible for building Edmonton’s beleaguered Valley Line LRT to southeast Edmonton says repair work on 30 cracked piers supporting elevated portions of the track happened “quicker than expected.”
But TransEd still isn’t ready to provide an estimate for when the project, which is two years behind schedule, could open to passengers.
“We are at the last chapter now. The repair is behind us and we are looking forward to opening this rail,” said TransEd CEO Ronald Joncas, who provided a project update to media on Tuesday.
“We just need a little bit more time.”
Joncas was asked by Global News whether a winter opening was possible.
“Everything is possible,” he replied.
The 13-kilometre rail line connecting downtown with Mill Woods was most recently expected to open this past summer. Engineers discovered cracks in several piers and different elevated sections of the track, delaying the project indefinitely. TransEd said the cracks were caused by insufficient steel reinforcement inside the rebar of the piers.
“We are 100 per cent confident these piers are strengthened,” Joncas said on Tuesday.
The next step towards an opening is resuming the testing process and having the $1.8 billion public-private partnership (P3) project certified by third-party safety inspectors.
Joncas said that will involve running several scenarios, including mock emergencies, such as evacuating a train full of passengers in the tunneled portion of the track east of downtown.
“We need to simulate accident along the alignment. We need to involve the emergency services, fire department, the police. These are all kind of tests that needs to be carried out,” said Joncas.
In a previous update in November, TransEd outlined the three ways in which the piers would be repaired.
One such method involved installing a belt-like steel beam around the mid-section of the pier. TransEd told Global News Tuesday that 15 of 30 cracked piers had been repaired using this method.
Joncas said the company is working with City of Edmonton staff on options to improve aesthetics.
“There are wrapping options. There’s things we can add (such as) some form of artwork,” said Joncas, “There’s a myriad of options. I can say I’m losing count of them”
The cost of the repair work, which TransEd is responsible for, is being kept confidential. Joncas was asked about whether the company is in financial trouble as a result.
“We are committed to maintain and to operate this railway for the next 30 years,” he said.
The City of Edmonton responded to the update with a statement Tuesday afternoon.
“While this delay has been frustrating, we are pleased with the progress TransEd has made on the repairs. I want to reiterate that TransEd is fully responsible for the cost of repairing the piers, and continues to forfeit payments every month the system is not operational,” said deputy city manager Adam Laughlin.
TransEd said Edmontonians can expect to see trains running the full length of the track as part of testing before the new year.
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