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Edmonton seeks comment on northwest LRT

The City of Edmonton wants St. Albert residents to weigh in on its proposed northwest LRT line.

St. Albert could someday see an LRT line hopping over Campbell Road if Edmonton’s transit plans are approved.

The City of Edmonton held two open houses this week on its plans for the Metro Line northwest LRT. The plans are now online for comment for the next few weeks.

Edmonton’s northbound LRT currently ends at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, but the city plans to eventually have it reach St. Albert’s upcoming park-and-ride near Campbell Road just south of the Anthony Henday.

Edmonton hopes to build the first 1.5 km segment of this line from NAIT to the new Blatchford neighbourhood within three years for about $350 million, said project manager Scott MacIntosh. The remaining 10 km to Campbell, priced at about $1.8 billion, is up to 15 years away.

MacIntosh said his team wants people to look at the proposed route and give opinions on it. They were particularly interested in proposed station locations, whether or not the line should go above, below, or through different intersections, and if the city should pursue rapid bus service along this route.

This is the line that St. Albert’s LRT system would branch off of should it ever get built, said St. Albert Coun. Wes Brodhead, who checked out one of the LRT open houses last week. He hoped to see Edmonton commit to this northern leg as an important part of regional mobility.

“We have to start looking at how we provide capacity for the movement of people in the region that isn’t all about building more and more roads,” he said.

“If we don’t find different ways to move people, we won’t be able to build enough roads.”

Transit options

The proposed route for the LRT would head north from NAIT through Blatchford before going over Yellowhead Trail and the CN rail yard to 127 Ave. From there, the line would follow 113a St. and Castle Downs Road north, turn west to follow 153 Ave., burrow under the CN rail line next to 142 St., continue west through the Rampart Industrial area, cross Campbell, and stop at the upcoming park-and-ride.

While the original plan was to have the line run at street level (which would mean crossing gates and flashing lights at intersections), the team was looking at going above or below certain intersections to reduce traffic impacts, MacIntosh said.

The team is thinking about using trenches to go under 137 Ave., 153 Ave., 127 St., and 142 St., MacIntosh explained. Trenches are cheaper than tunnels, and are used extensively in Calgary’s LRT line. Plans are to have the line cross Campbell at street level, but it could be elevated over it should traffic warrant it.

The team also wants to gauge interest in rapid bus service as a stop-gap measure until the line reaches Campbell. This could involve anything from dedicated bus lanes to traffic signals that let buses cross intersections before other cars. MacIntosh said he wasn’t sure if this would really affect St. Albert residents, as they already had rapid bus service to Edmonton.

The northwest LRT line could let St. Albert residents reach Edmonton more quickly and allow St. Albert to eliminate some bus routes, said St. Albert Transit director Kevin Bamber.

“Anything that makes the commute for St. Albert residents less ... that’s a good thing.”

St. Albert will likely have some 80,000 residents by the time the LRT reaches Campbell, which could make it easier for people to see it headed through St. Albert, Brodhead said.

“A link to LRT as close as Campbell is an excellent start.”

Visit edmonton.ca/metronw for more on the LRT consultations.


Kevin Ma

About the Author: Kevin Ma

Kevin Ma joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2006. He writes about Sturgeon County, education, the environment, agriculture, science and aboriginal affairs. He also contributes features, photographs and video.
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