City learned lessons from Metro Line about keeping trains out of traffic, says mayor

The City of Edmonton has learned some lessons from the Metro Line and is conscious about keeping the trains out of major intersections as the LRT is built out.

'We've identified a couple of places where we think there's value in separating the train from traffic'

The Metro Line LRT crosses Princess Elizabeth Avenue Wednesday night. (Roberta Bell/CBC )

The City of Edmonton has learned some lessons from the Metro Line and is conscious about keeping the trains out of major intersections as the LRT is built out, Mayor Don Iveson said Wednesday. 

Iveson answered questions on Facebook Live Wednesday night, including one about whether the challenges associated with the Metro Line has prompted the city to consider elevating future lines. 

"We've identified a couple of places where we think there's value in separating the train from traffic," he said. 

The Metro Line opened in September 2015. Since then, it's been running at half speed through intersections because of unspecified safety issues with the signalling software. 

Iveson said Wednesday those issues are now sorted out and as of Sunday, trains will be going 50 km/h. 

The Valley Line is already under construction in Mill Woods, but Iveson said council is taking a closer look at the lines it's involved in designing, like the westward Energy Line to Lewis Estates.  

"It's really not feasible to do a monorail or a SkyTrain all the way," he said, noting it would be 14 kilometres from downtown. 

"To do that whole thing up in the air would be three times the cost." 

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson discusses the city's LRT plans and during a Facebook Live Wednesday night. (Facebook )

Iveson said the city is focusing strategically on certain intersections. He called 149th Street and Stony Plain Road, "an interesting possibility." 

There is potentially a large site to be redeveloped by London Drugs and Safeway, he said. 

"If we could incorporate a train into that with air rights above, there might be a win-win," Iveson said. 

"Given the amount of goods and buses and commuters and pedestrians at an intersection like that, it makes sense to look very closely at investing to separate the train and keep all those other folks moving." 

Iveson said there may be "other opportunities" as well. He said the LRT is already supposed to run over 170th Street.

"We're looking at the feasibility of keeping it airborne a little longer past West Edmonton Mall until you get to the other side of 178th," he said.  

Iveson said he doesn't know exactly when trains will be running out to Lewis Estates, but hopes to see a new station open westward each year after 2020.

"If we could get to Meadowlark 2022, West Edmonton Mall 2023, that'd be fantastic," he said. 

roberta.bell@cbc.ca

@roberta__bell