Edmonton’s newest light rail line expected to be operational by the end of 2021
EDMONTON – The company tasked with building and maintaining Edmonton’s latest addition to its light rail network has released a more specific completion target for the Southeast Valley LRT line.
In an interview with CTV News Edmonton on Monday, a TranEd official said the $ 1.8 billion project has now reached its security and communications systems testing phase and that he expects the new line will be operational by the end of 2021.
“At the moment, we are looking at a one-year delay from the original date,” said TransEd spokesman Dallas Lindskoog.
“We have a team of people testing every component of the system we’ve built,” he said. “Most of them are installed now, so they are testing these wires and connectivity.”
The approximately two dozen trains are all in place for the low-floor transit system. The trail has been laid – but the finer details are still being worked out.
Lindskoog said the Tawatinâ Bridge, which crosses the North Saskatchewan River, “is progressing well.”
“We have moved beyond the actual construction of the concrete structure, the cables, all of that is finished,” he said. “The rail crosses the bridge, all the overhead catenary system that you see … is installed.”
The next stop in this section, said Lindskoog, is the shared-use path underpinning the bridge and reestablishing the trail system in the river valley.
“To achieve this, we still have work to do in the parks,” he said. “We must also restore the Louise McKinney and Henrietta Muir parks.”
The south portal of the new line twin tunnels is located at Louise McKinney Park.
According to Lindskoog, TransEd has a “contractual requirement” to complete the bridge’s pedestrian walkway, as well as aesthetic features such as landscaping, before launching the new LRT line for public use.
“We don’t want a whole bunch of leftover work either,” he said. “We want the system to be completely overturned. All the roads, all the landscaping, all the rails – when the train goes into service.”
Originally scheduled for the end of 2020, the construction of the 13.1 kilometer line has met its share of challenges.
The first major problem arose in 2018, when construction crews encountered a large mass of concrete in the bed of the North Saskatchewan River. This discovery meant that work on the Valley Line Tawatinâ Bridge was delayed and had subsequent spillover effects on the remainder of the project.
DELAYS DUE TO COVID-19: TRANSDUCED
“We’ve tried to catch up since that encounter with the concrete,” Lindskoog said, “then the pandemic landed. We tried to make up for some of the efficiency gains that we lost there.”
“Working with a mask, working and maintaining distance is a challenge,” he said.
Lindskoog pointed out that worker absenteeism due to family issues related to the pandemic was one of the causes of construction delays.
“We have had very few positive cases of COVID on the project,” he added.
According to the spokesperson for TransEd, the project also encountered problems with the supply of construction materials due to COVID-19.
THE FINAL TOUCH
One of the main features of the Southeast Valley Line is the twin tunnels that stretch from 102nd Avenue and 96th Street to Louise McKinney Park, under Edmonton’s Quarters neighborhood.
Lindskoog said finishes are underway on these, as well as the raised platform known as Davies Station – which will include a full park and transit center.
The TransEd spokesperson believes that once complete, his company’s signaling system will not face any of the problems that plagued Edmonton’s LRT metro line in 2017.
Assuming there are no further setbacks, by 2022 Edmontonians can expect the 11-stop electric rail line to be available to transport them from Millwoods to the city’s downtown core. – and vice versa – in about 30 minutes.
TransEd will begin testing trains on Connors Hill and the new Tawatinâ Bridge this summer.
Stage 2 of the $ 1.64 billion Valley Line LRT will see construction of the western section that will run from 102nd Street to Lewis Farms.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s David Ewasuk