Edmonton residents are growing frustrated with the seemingly never-ending delays with opening the southeast leg of the Valley Line LRT, to the point of considering packing up their houses and moving.
Simone Dahlke has lived for 12 years near where a LRT station now exists in Mill Woods. Her growing frustrations over the ever-delayed Valley Line have her contemplating leaving.
“By this time next year, I’m not going to be here. By this winter, I’m not going to be here,” she said, quickly changing her mind. “It’s crazy – the delays, the noise, lights not working.
“General consensus (in the neighbourhood) is nobody’s happy.”
A night owl, Dahlke said she hears the train at 1:30 in the morning and doesn’t understand why it’s being tested at that hour.
She also pointed out the number of collisions that have occurred and questioned why there aren’t crossing arms to signal to drivers and pedestrians.
The Valley Line, which is the city’s biggest capital project in history and a public-private partnership (P3) project, was set to be complete by December 2020. It has been pushed back every year since.
On Tuesday, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said the city doesn’t have an opening date for the Valley Line but continues to test.
He said that once the testing is complete, there is an application process for a safety certificate through the city, then the line can open.
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“Our focus is to ensure that when (the LRT) line opens, it is built to the standards we expect it to be built and that everything is done according to the specifications in the contract,” he said.
He said there’s a certain testing requirement in order for the train to run a full schedule and has not heard of any recent problems found.
Dallas Lindskoog, a TransEd spokesperson, told Global News Wednesday that demonstration testing continues and is going well, with necessary adjustments being made as they go along.
He also confirmed that once the city and TransEd agree the performance criteria has been met, an independent safety review will be conducted by independent certifiers. This will result in the certification to open the line, at which time the city will choose an official opening date for the Valley Line.
While the testing and ongoing construction is proving disruptive to local residents, some see the amount of activity as a sign of progress.
David Cooper, principal of Leading Mobility Consulting, said there were some complexities with construction, including the river crossing. It is also the first low-floor urban LRT that Edmonton has seen, he added.
“It’s not unheard of for complexities to come up during construction and the overall timeline of the project. What I think is very encouraging right now is when I go downtown Edmonton or I go down the Valley Line I see trains every day that are testing and it looks like we’re getting much closer to an opening date just from the amount of activity we’re seeing on the system,” he said.
While there is still no set date for the line that runs from Mill Woods to downtown, Cooper says he trusts that there’s a process in place and hopefully opening day comes soon.
The 14-kilometre west leg of the Valley Line is being built by another P3 company: Marigold Infrastructure Partners, which is made up of Colas, Parsons, Standard General, Francl Architecture, Fast & Epp and Stantec.
— with files from Slav Kornik, Global News