A bus-only bridge over Yellowhead Trail and the CN rail yards, linking downtown with northwest Edmonton, would dramatically reduce travel time for transit commuters, says Coun. Bev Esslinger.

"What people in the northwest are saying is they want access to the LRT system, that their commutes are quite long," the Ward 2 councillor said Wednesday. "They would like to tap into express buses to get to the LRT."

The buses would ferry passengers from Castle Downs to Blatchford Field and onward to the LRT.

"Right now we're quite landlocked," Esslinger said.

"We need to go to 97th Street or 127th Street or another way because of the CN tracks and the Yellowhead. You can't just put a road anywhere. So it will open up that area."

Coun. Dave Loken said Tuesday the bus ride from the Eaux Claires transit station to downtown is taking close to an hour.

"Which is not acceptable," he said. "We need to cut that in half."

Loken said he was told by a transit official that a dedicated bus lane could provide a 13- to 15-minute ride from Castle Downs Road to Blatchford Field.

A bridge will eventually be built to accommodate the Metro Line as it progresses from NAIT to St. Albert, so while funding for the LRT is worked out, express buses could be used, he said.

"This is a perfect interim measure. We need that bridge anyway."

The bridge is estimated to cost between $100 million and $200 million.

Esslinger and Loken introduced a motion on the bridge at city council Tuesday. It will be debated by council at the end of the month.

"We're asking let's get this work started," Esslinger said. "We're starting public engagement on the Metro Line itself right into St. Albert, so it seems to makes sense to have this conversation about the bridge."