Home Month and Year May 2024 Edmonton’s LRT Boost

Edmonton’s LRT Boost

Good for the community. Good for business.

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The massive 100-metre-long gantry crane hoists the individual concrete segments for the two-kilometre elevated guideway near West Edmonton Mall and Misericordia Hospital.

With a few lingering speedbumps in the plan, sideline LRT boosters and critics seem to agree – the momentum about Edmonton’s LRT is positive. 

 

“The Valley Line West LRT is a transformational public transit project that is changing how we move and grow into a city of two million people in the coming decades,” says Bruce Ferguson, branch manager for LRT Expansion and Renewal with the City of Edmonton. “LRT is the backbone of our mass transit network, and Valley Line West is giving Edmontonians even more options for how they choose to travel throughout our city. 

 

“When the first phase of the Valley Line LRT opened in November 2023 with service from Mill Woods to downtown, we saw people who were not previously using transit take the LRT to commute or explore the many services and amenities along the alignment. Once complete, Valley Line West will further strengthen mass transit in our city and provide greater access for Edmontonians.” 

 

The contentions days of Edmonton LRT wrangling are in the distant rear view mirror and the consensus is that Edmonton’s LRT was necessary. 

 

According to Doug Griffiths, CEO and president of the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, “Good, reliable and connected transit helps create a thriving business environment. Investments in public transit sees increased economic investments along transit routes, which not only create jobs but attracts investment in the areas. A reliable transit network helps bolster Edmonton’s urban infrastructure, promising a connected future for the city and its residents.” 

 

Puneeta McBryan, executive director, Downtown Business Association of Edmonton, knows the pulse of the Edmonton community. She is balanced, fair and realistic in underscoring the boost which the LRT is proving to be. 

 

“While the delays in completing and opening the Valley Line Southeast were incredibly frustrating, having it up and running has been so exciting. We are optimistic that Valley Line West will be a more efficient construction process but there’s no doubt that it’s going to be a very painful few years for our businesses and residents affected by construction along the line.” 

 

She points out some key advantages of Edmonton’s LRT.  

 

“It is a highly efficient mode of transportation and is desirable for a lot of people who prefer not to drive every day, especially young people and newcomers and for those who can’t afford to have their own vehicle. The LRT helps prevent congestion on our roads, is better for the environment and helps move our economy forward as we work to attract more and more young talent from across Canada and the world.” 

 

She continues, “Marigold Infrastructure Partners (MIP) is in its third year of major construction on the Valley Line West with significant construction continuing along the full 14-kilometre alignment. “ 

 

Last year, crews made steady progress including: 

  • Demolition of the Stony Plain Road Bridge over Groat Road and starting construction on a wider bridge to accommodate vehicles, LRT, pedestrians and cyclists. 
  • Continued construction for the new LRT bridge over Anthony Henday Drive at 87 Avenue including the installation of over 250 steel piles (girders were installed in January 2024). 
  • Continued construction of the two kilometre elevated guideway near West Edmonton Mall and Misericordia Hospital, using a massive 100 metre long gantry crane to hoist the individual concrete segments into place. 

 

During 2024, continuing construction is taking place along the majority of the 14-kilometre route, including: 

  • Continued work on the elevated guideway along 87 Avenue.  
  • Work on 107 Street. 
  • Completion and reopening of the new Stony Plain Road Bridge in fall 2024. 
  • Major work at the intersections where the LRT will elbow, at 156 Street and Stony Plain Road and 87 Avenue and Meadowlark Road.  
  • Substantially completing the Anthony Henday Drive LRT bridge. 
  • Major work on the West Edmonton Mall and Misericordia Stations. 

 

Griffiths reinforces the Chamber’s position that Edmonton’s LRT is good for the city, the community, business, Edmonton’s economy and vibrancy and most of all, good for Edmontonians. 

 

“A better-connected city creates a more connected business-to-consumer market,” he says. “By focusing on people-centric policies—such as enhanced public transit – the city becomes more inviting and accessible. 

 

“Although the Chamber has no specific data, we know that decreasing downtown congestion will encourage more people to visit our downtown core. When we see increased foot traffic to our downtown business district, we see a revitalized core.” 

 

The LRT impact, particularly on the downtown cores, is well documented.  

 

“We’re already seeing many more people in the southeast of Edmonton getting jobs downtown or commuting downtown more frequently now that they can easily take the train, where they otherwise wouldn’t have,” McBryan says with enthusiasm. “It helps get more people back into the office, going out for lunches and coffees and it also helps our restaurants, cafes and other hospitality sector businesses access a new labour pool.” 

 

There have been 225,000-286,000 rides per month just on the Valley Line Southeast since the line opened in November and the data suggests that majority of those riders are using it to get to and from downtown. 

 

Griffiths adds that more people living and using transit to get downtown adds to a feeling of vitality where residents can live, work and shop in the same area. It also promotes sustainable urban living by reducing commute times and encouraging the use of public transit.  

 

“Increasing residential capacity downtown not only helps reduce retail vacancies but also contributes to urban revitalization.” 

 

The situation is by no means 100 per cent rosy.  

 

The Chamber notes that the construction noise and commotion disruptions in traffic have been frustrating for residents and businesses in the adjacent neighborhoods. Griffiths adds that the temporary disruption will lead to an economically prosperous area in the future and cites some comparison stats and studies about the impact of major transit construction in other cities. 

 

“Transit-oriented development has historically seen increases in property values, attracts investment from businesses to be near those transit centers, all while providing convenient and connected living options for the adjacent communities.” 

 

McBryan is both optimistic and cautiously realistic about the LRT impact on the affected Edmonton neighborhoods.  

 

“We will definitely continue seeing heavy residential and commercial development along the line, as easy transportation is a big selling point to attract new residents and businesses. It’s also worth noting that the City still has a lot of work to do with ensuring that the LRT is a safe and welcoming place for all riders. They must more strictly and consistently enforce the prohibition of things like open illicit drug use and other disruptive and harmful behaviour that limits the potential of the investments Edmonton is making in LRT.” 

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