Grade separation will give motorists relief at 50th Street rail crossing

Edmonton motorists who use 50th Street can now look forward to a day when their trip will no longer be delayed because of a Canadian Pacific Railway train.

For years, drivers have complained about delays caused by trains

A new grade-separation project will give drivers a break from the railway crossing on 50th Street, north of the Sherwood Park Freeway. (CBC)

Edmonton motorists long frustrated by regular traffic delays on 50th Street can now look forward to a day when their trip will no longer be delayed because of a Canadian Pacific Railway train.

The City of Edmonton, the province and the federal government announced Tuesday an $87.5-million project to improve traffic flow along the 50th Street corridor.

The city hasn't decided if the separation will be an underpass or an overpass, a spokesperson said. 

"The 2010 plan included a recommendation for an underpass, but the project team is currently reviewing the possibility of an above-grade separation as well," city spokesperson Dale Shekooley said in an email.

Mayor Don Iveson, currently in Singapore, tweeted that motorists can expect an overpass.

"We're building a 50th Street overpass," Iveson said in a post Tuesday on Twitter.

The traffic-flow improvement project is something Iveson has been pushing for since he was elected to city council in 2007.

"This is a huge day for our city," Iveson said in a video he tweeted.

"Now we don't have to wait for the ... train any more."

Coun. Ben Henderson said the city aims to start the job in 2020 and finish it by 2023.

Commuters who live in the area were relieved to hear that the project was finally going ahead. 

April Sellar said she adjusted her routes to avoid the intersection. 

"It is inconvenient, usually you know to avoid 50th Street at certain times of day," said Sellar. 

"I think it'll be able to speed the traffic up, the train will go, the traffic will be able to go, and there won't be a conflict."

Perry Stiles uses 50th Street for his daily commute and said he regularly waits up to 15 minutes for a train to cross. 

"Sometimes, I just drove over the curb and turned around like everybody else," said Stiles, who added that the changes were long overdue. 

Other improvements include widening 50th Street to six lanes between 76th Avenue and 90th Avenue.

The federal government will contribute $39.8 million towards the project. A contribution of $28.3 million from the Alberta government was previously announced. The city will cover the remaining $19.4 million 

A road is proposed to be built under the railway crossing at 50th Street, north of the Sherwood Park Freeway. (CBC)

The city requested funding for the project in part because the 50th Street railway crossing is at the top of the priority list when it comes to grade separation issues in Edmonton. Motorists, businesses and city councillors have long complained about the area.

"We know traffic delays are frustrating and expensive," said Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason. "That's why we are making this investment to get traffic moving safely and efficiently."

The city will hold a public information session on the project on June 26 at The King's University, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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