Edmonton unveils west and south LRT plans


Proposed new Edmonton LRT routes

Proposed new Edmonton LRT routes

Photograph by: City of Edmonton, Supplied

EDMONTON - The west LRT line should follow Stony Plain Road to downtown rather than taking 87th Avenue to the University of Alberta Hospital as originally proposed, transportation officials say.

In 2008, LRT planners favoured going from Lewis Estates to Health Sciences station on 87th Avenue, with a new bridge across the North Saskatchewan River accessed by tunnels on either side of the river valley.

But that idea led to complaints by residents fearing disruption of their quiet neighbourhoods, and from Mayor Stephen Mandel, who felt there was more potential benefit to the city from a line along Stony Plain Road that would spur redevelopment.

At a news conference Thursday, transportation general manager Bob Boutilier unveiled a final recommendation for a west end route that now heads north from 87th Avenue on 156th Street to Stony Plain Road/104th Avenue, ending at the future MacEwan College station.

The change is due to a new emphasis on creating a more compact city that makes development opportunities the most important factor in deciding where LRT lines should be located, he said.

“The land-use potential is the critical factor,” he said.

“The old terms of reference that had been kicked around for three years were just not relevant.”

Other factors are efficient movement of people and goods, construction feasibility, and protecting neighbourhoods, the environment and the river valley.

While he admitted being concerned about not offering direct LRT from the west end to the University of Alberta area, Boutilier hopes to fill that gap with improved bus service.

He also released his department’s recommended southeast LRT route, which would link the downtown Quarters redevelopment to Mill Woods with a line through the river valley beside Louise McKinney Park that crosses the river on a new bridge, possibly replacing the current footbridge.

Trains would stop at the Muttart Conservatory, head out of the river valley beside Connors Road, go east along 95th Avenue, and turn south on 83rd Street-85th Street past Bonnie Doon mall down to Argyll Road, where they would curve over to follow 75th Street south to the Mill Woods Transit Centre.

Each proposal involves low-floor trains running at street level on dedicated rights-of-way, meaning several streets, particularly Stony Plain Road, would see traffic reduced to one lane from two lanes in each direction.

“(We’re) basically removing vehicles from the road if necessary … we didn’t want to buy any property if possible,” Boutilier said.

“The LRT or transit will take priority over vehicles. Where we have no choice, we will use the roads.”

The city will still have to purchase residential and commercial land in parts of both routes, primarily so trains can turn around tight corners.

The expected travel time to downtown from the two end stations is 20 to 25 minutes. Each route carries an estimated cost of $900 million to $1.2 billion, but no funding has been approved and any construction is years in the future.

Coun. Amarjeet Sohi, who has long pushed for an LRT to the busy southeast, said he’s excited the process is moving forward.

“This route, I think, is based on the criteria we gave the administration to look at, particularly for redevelopment of underused land and also transit planning,” he said.

“Looking at some of the other options that were ruled out, this choice makes the best sense.”

But Coun. Kim Krushell is worried west end commuters won’t be able to take the LRT to the U of A, where many of them work.

“What kind of ridership growth potential do you have from all those people living south of West Edmonton Mall, who could potentially go to Lewis Estates Transit Centre and get to their employment destination, which is the U of A and the U of A Hospital?” she asked.

“I was very surprised that 87th Avenue was not the chosen route, but I did not support the (route) criteria when it came to council.”

Pam Wojcicki, president of the Glenora Community League, said it is too early to say what the long-term impacts on the community will be if council approves the proposed route, although she would like to see more consultation with residents.

They have to ask people for their opinions and decide how to present them to the city, she said.

“Obviously, there is a balance that needs to be struck for transportation needs in the city of Edmonton as a whole, but there are some of pieces of the puzzle that are missing. I guess that is what will be explored in the next few months.”

Sue Murk, who has owned a home near 78th Avenue and 83rd Street for the last 25 years, said her biggest concern is that people in the area appear not to have been notified adequately.

Homes may have to be expropriated, she said.

“I can see both sides of the issue. I know it has to be done for future planning because they just can’t sit and do nothing. But I don’t like the way people were notified. They should have gone door-to-door and caught people at home with this information -- that is only fair,” she said.

“This is going to come as huge news to a lot of people.”

The two route recommendations will be discussed at a series of public meetings Sept. 21-30, then go to city council for a final decision following a public hearing in November.

Planners expect to complete a study next summer into the best downtown surface link between Churchill and the future MacEwan LRT stations, where the new LRT lines would end; the trains can’t use the existing track


With files from Florence Loyie


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Proposed new Edmonton LRT routes

Proposed new Edmonton LRT routes

Photograph by: City of Edmonton, Supplied

Proposed new Edmonton LRT routes
The LRT at the new South Campus LRT station.

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Historic "old" Glernora for a reason
September 29, 2009 - 5:10 PM

When you drive to and from work tomorrow along 104 ave(SPR), take a second (while your jammed in traffic) to look and think about an LRT running down this same street.  Also, think about the fact that on each side of Stony Plain road west brand new development was just completed and travel a lttle further and think about the fact that this will run straight through what's left of historic edmonton!! (including what was Edmonton's first Mayor's residence!!!)  Lynda has it exactly right and we need more Glenora support here. What happened to the proposed 107 avenue route with it's ample room, major ridership, access for Grant McEwan students and back acces to the new stadium!!!  Like Lynda, I want to know why it is off the table??

Allan G
September 28, 2009 - 9:51 AM

It's the same old same old, in everyone elses backyard but your own, it has got to be built somewhere. Don't like it, move!

September 13, 2009 - 4:41 PM

The Stony Plain Rd line isn't going to be done for years...

Don't think that's not going to cause problems from the second they block off any lane. The construction of the line will take a couple years, which will still block off the lanes, which will cause traffic to be really messed up while they're not having the benefit of the LRT running.

This is a nightmare. Our city, which I was born and raised in, is run by short sighted, spineless cavemen. Grow a backbone, tell the rich they'll have to suck it up.

Mandel, if you really want to do something good for this city, you'll say "screw you" to the rich, build it like it should be done. Do that, even if you don't get re-elected, and we'll name the damn line ... stephen spendel LRT line. Work for you? You'll have your name on something and the people will actually like you for once.

Ali H
September 13, 2009 - 1:40 PM

Unfortunately, Whyte Ave Route, that would mean more negotiations with the Sherwood Park's Municipal Government.  Which would just stretch this out, even longer.

Whyte Ave. route
September 12, 2009 - 11:19 PM

I think the city should stick with the 87 ave route over the river to Health sciences station.  Then continue east under Whyte Ave. to Bonnie Doon and beyond. A tunnel section starting east of 114 st. under Whyte with stations at 109 st., 105 st., 99 st. The tracks would surface west of Mill creek and continue east to Bonnie Doon Mall station, 75 st., 50 st. then in the median of Sherwood Pk. freeway to it's terminus at Sherwood Park transit centre. From Lewis Estates to Sherwood Park would take 30 mins by train.

 Yes, I know the cost to build such a line would be very high. though it would serve the people better than this talk of laying track down Stony Plain rd, And the west and southeast lines would intersect at Bonnie Doon! Making it simple to transfer and head downtown, south, west, east.....

September 09, 2009 - 10:23 PM

so when is the affluent neighbourhood of Glenora going to start talking and putting up a fuss. So many of the comments above about the 'redevelopment' are true the east side is not a pretty site around the transit hubs.

I would like to see the line be more direct to the University. Why are they not working on the line issues while they do all of the road construction and the tearing down of the banks along the Quennell. They could be digging the area out more and creating tunnels and extra bridges for the LRT.

September 09, 2009 - 4:55 PM

While the LRT lines are reasonably direct, the hard corners will require the train to slow down considerably.  Residents living near the sharp bends will have to be prepared to deal with excessive noise from 5:00 a.m. to 1:30 a.m.  Get ready for some strong opposition!

Also, the west line misses the University.  Stony Plain Road is just a corridor with only a few apartment buildings and small patches commercial with plenty of free parking nearby.   The University area is the city's second biggest major destination and the direct route along 87 Ave to University Ave would serve this better as well as get to downtown about 5 minutes faster than the Stony Plain Road alignment.  The idea that LRT will suddenly lead to redevelopment is a myth.  We have had LRT for over 30 years and so far there has been very little redevelopment near the northeast stations.  The LRT needs to serve major destinations, not just speculative markets.

And by the way, LRT to the airport is a waste of money.  Very few people travel to the airport on a daily basis, and a bus on the highway would end up traveling faster than an LRT train at a much lower cost.

September 09, 2009 - 12:43 PM

The LRT should fun a line out to the airport.. As I am sure alot of people would use it.. As Vancouver has a Canada Line that runs out to YVR.. I was just in Vancouver and found lots of people comming in and going to the airport.. It would cut back on parking at the airport as we all know there is very little..

September 09, 2009 - 12:07 AM

It looks like some kid  took red and  blue crayons to the city map. But then again, most of our roads ( millwoods, river valley, etc) look like some toddler's meandering scribbles.

Elmwood Resident
September 08, 2009 - 8:40 PM

Interesting that the new west plan now does not go thru the more affluent westend neighbourhoods. Well, I'm selling before 87 avenue becomes an even bigger eyesore and my home is worth less than nothing. If your aim is to make the areas bordering 87 avenue a bigger crime area this plan will work.

September 08, 2009 - 10:04 AM

Yes it is a streetcar, the things the city retired in 1952, but they are from europe, and new and sexy AND COST MORE TO MAINTAIN (it is in their hand outs) than the current system.

Anybody else find it strange that ETS had the trolley bus removed for being uncapatiable with the fleet, had overhead wires, electricity from coal and not being flexible (but not the new ones) and expensive but are now pushing for a streetcar that has overhead wires, electricity from coal, NO flexibility as they are on tracks, expensive to buy, more expensive to maintain and add in  steel wheel on steel rail noise???

I guess we can expect ETS to now start to play the trolley games with the old LRT system (power outs, lack of maintence, slagging the system) , it's already started folks, the colsultants (salesmen) have called it old, overbuilt, over engineered and too many safety items.  Strange, Calgary makes it work, so too San Diego and with he same systems, so where is the real problem?ETS is the problem

Perhaps the Mayor could explain that the only people that were given any consideration about "complaints by residents fearing disruption of their quiet neighbourhoods" were the people living east of 156 street on 87th avenue.  Perhaps the mayor could be so kind as to provide a list of campain donors and their address.

Why were the people along 83 street and 156 street and around Kingsway Legion not given the same consideration???

September 07, 2009 - 10:54 PM

@Long Rides: I hear they'll have sleeper and diner cars on the WLRT trains.

Stony Plain road is a main artery - when you clog it up with a train down the middle, the west side will be paralyzed. Bumper to bumper traffic all the way from Henday to 124st. To simulate this nightmare today, council should close the middle lane down for 1 day and run buses along the same route to see the effects. The line must be put underground from 149st to Oliver if this is the chosen route.

September 07, 2009 - 10:48 PM

The article states: “... several streets, particularly Stony Plain Road, would see traffic reduced to one lane from two lanes in each direction.”

I am afraid that reducing a significant traffic artery to one lane in each direction would create more problems than it would solve, - particularly during peak traffic hours. Sudden blockages of the only lane by accidents or stalled vehicles may cause unacceptable conditions to bus traffic and emergency vehicles.

Before installing a rail line on Stony Plain Road, create a new major West-to-Downtown traffic artery, for example, by widening 107 Avenue and implementing lane control on it.

September 07, 2009 - 4:09 PM

I like this LRT network.  It connects with much of the city.  However, I think there has to be some non stop bus connections between some stations:

(1) WEM to South Campus station;

(2) University (along Whyte Avenue) to Bonnie Doon Mall;

(3) Millwoods (either from the Town Center or Whitemud Station) to Southgate Station.

(4) Coliseum Station (along 118 Avenue) to NAIT.

(5) Kingsway (along 111 Avenue) to Westmount Mall, Telus World of Science, south along 142 Street to the Stony Plain Road/142 Street Station.

(6) Coliseum Station, south along Gretzky Drive/75 Street, meeting up with Bonnie Doon Mall.

Long Rides
September 07, 2009 - 12:53 PM

So how long would it take to ride from Lewis Estates to Millwoods station? Should I pack a lunch?

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