Weekend is looking up: Edmonton funicular to open on Saturday

Edmontonians looking for a lift this weekend can check out the new river valley funicular, which will have its grand opening on Saturday morning.

Ribbon-cutting ceremony set for the morning, public can start riding at noon

After much anticipation, Edmonton's river valley funicular opens Saturday. (City of Edmonton)

Edmontonians looking for a lift this weekend can check out the new river valley funicular, which will have its grand opening on Saturday morning.

Mayor Don Iveson and federal and provincial government representatives will speak at a ceremony and ribbon cutting. The event gets started at 10 a.m. at the funicular's promontory, located south of the Hotel Macdonald.

The funicular — formally known as the Mechanized River Valley Access Project — will open to the public at noon. Visitors will be offered hot beverages.

City officials had promised the funicular would be up and running before winter.

There will be no charge to use the funicular, which passengers can summon by pushing a call button.

The funicular will take people from the top of the river bank, behind the Hotel Macdonald, to the mid-way point which looks out over the valley.

The new lookout over the river valley promises a great view in all directions. (City of Edmonton)

From the mid-way point, people who want to get closer to the river can take an elevator down to the bottom near the Low Level Bridge.

There will still be a set of stairs from the top of the bank to the bottom, with a separate track for runners and a bike rail for cyclists who opt to push their bikes up and down the stairs.

The cost for the funicular is $24 million, which is part of a greater budget of $72.9 million for a total of five projects in the river valley including boat launches and upgraded trails. The goal is to increase access to the river valley.  

The urban staircase has a separate track for runners. (City of Edmonton)

The funicular and elevator will mean anybody will be able to access the river valley, including people in wheelchairs and parents with children in strollers.   

The city's contribution is $1.7 million, with the balance coming from the federal and provincial governments and the River Valley Alliance.