The city is laying the groundwork for its biggest construction project ever by demolishing and moving homes and businesses to clear the way for the Valley Line LRT.

The $1.8 billion LRT line will run from the City Centre Mall downtown to Mill Woods.

"We're feeling good at this stage of the game," said city spokesperson Quinn Nicholson.

Brad Bellefontaine

Brad Bellefontaine, owner of Tile Town at 83rd Street and Argyll Road, anticipates LRT construction will significantly affect his business. (CBC)

Crews are trying to get as much work done as the weather will allow before the end of the year, to prepare the corridor for construction of the line in spring.

Part of the preparation included moving underground utilities so they don't interfere with operation of the LRT.

While plans are falling into place, the city is making it clear a project of this size doesn't happen without inconvenience.

During the several years of construction, there will be road closures and detours.

'There will be inconveniences'

"There will be impacts and there will be inconveniences to citizens along the line," Nicholson said. "We'll do our best to minimize those."

That warning leaves at least one Edmonton business owner feeling uneasy.

Brad Bellefontaine is owner of Tile Town which has been operating for 37 years on 83rd Street, near where a bridge will take the LRT over Argyll Road.

"We anticipate a great loss in business," he said. "It can't be helped.

"We know it's going to come through, but as they build they're going to take away an intersection here that's a major traffic flow for our customers to get in and get out."

The city says it will ensure vehicles can still access the business about half a block to the east and west of 83rd Street on Argyll Road.

Work is already well underway along the 13-kilometre Valley Line route to move houses and businesses out of the way.

About 20 houses were initially slated to be knocked down, but a deal was made with a contractor to move them, meaning they can be reused and resold.

Those homes are being cut away from their foundations and loaded onto steel beams by Nomad Building Movers.

"It is nice that it's environmentally friendly absolutely and we're helping people out and I love it," said owner Tim Willcox. "It's fun."

Homes will end up on lake lots

A good number of the homes will end up on lake front properties in Alberta and Saskatchewan, he said.

To manage costs and the complexities of moving the homes, they will all be moved at once in the dead of the night on a procession of at least 10 tractor trailers.

"We have to work with Epcor and Telus and those guys and they get everything out of the way the night of the move." Willcox said. "The city police come and escort us out."

The big move will happen sometime in the next couple of weeks and will be like nothing seen in Edmonton before, he said.

The city will also be choosing the winning bid for one of three groups bidding to build the southeast stage of the Valley Line later this month.

Soon after that, the city will release more details on the impact of the project.

"When we have the successful bid from the project company, then we'll have the construction schedule they're offering us and we'll be able to begin sharing that with citizens," Nicholson said.

The city is trying to mitigate issues with LRT construction by creating five citizen working groups representing each major stage of the line.

Anyone with questions about the project can call the city's LRT projects info centre at 780 496-4874 or email inquiries to lrtprojects@edmonton.ca

The city is expecting the new line to be up and running by the end of 2020.

gareth.hampshire@cbc.ca

@cbcgareth