Site of fatal LRT collision in south Edmonton to get $120K upgrade

A South Edmonton LRT crossing that was the site of a fatal accident in October, will get safety upgrades, city officials said Thursday.

After the death of Luke Jansen, Parkallen, Lendrum Place residents asked city for safety improvements

Luke Jansen, an honours student and recent University of Alberta graduate, pictured in the backyard of the Parkallen home where he lived. (Brad Jansen)

The site of a fatal collision between a pedestrian and LRT train last fall will receive a $120,000 safety upgrade, city officials said Thursday night.

The news came nearly eight months after a northbound LRT train struck and killed Luke Jansen, 22, who was crossing the tracks near 113th Street and 60th Avenue, not far from the South Campus/Fort Edmonton Park LRT Station.

The accident happened shortly before noon on Oct. 6, 2017.

After the accident, police said Jansen had waited for a southbound LRT train to pass before unwittingly stepping in front of another train coming from the opposite direction.

They also said Jansen was wearing earbuds at the time and died instantly.

Police reviewed the incident and found the gated crossing was functioning normally, Tarra Kongsrude, a communications advisor for the City of Edmonton, told CBC. 
Luke Jansen, 22, died in October 2017 after being hit by an LRT train. (Trevor Wilson/CBC)

But ever since the accident, members of the Lendrum Place and Parkallen community leagues have shared concerns about its safety and suggested improvements to the city.

Automatic gate with lights coming

A mechanized pedestrian gate — with lights — will be added to the crossing as soon as possible, transit and city officials promised during a meeting Thursday night at the Parkallen community league hall. 

"We're going to take this as an opportunity to look at any other locations on the system and see if there are other locations that require upgrades as well," said Gord Cebryk, the acting deputy city manager for city operations.

Kristy Fyfe, civics director for the Parkallen community league, called this "the best possible solution."

"It's fantastic to see that the city's taking a proactive response to address not just our LRT pedestrian crossing but those across the city as well," Fyfe said. 

During the meeting, residents also raised concerns about an electrical box they said caused a visual obstruction at the crossing.

They asked if it could be moved, but Edmonton Transit Service manager Eddie Robar said that would be a less practical solution — more difficult and time-consuming.

Son loved music and political science

Members of Jansen's family, who learned about the meeting on CBC Radio, spoke with Ward 10 city councillor Michael Walters and community members, saying they were moved by the community effort to improve crossing safety.

"I felt more relational about the loss and connected to people, after what they did tonight," said Jansen's mother, Z'Anne Harvey-Jansen. 

Luke Jansen graduated from the University of Alberta in 2017. (Z'Anne Harvey-Jansen)

Jansen was a recent graduate of the University of Alberta, where he won multiple scholarships and wrote his honours thesis on public policy and live music venues in Edmonton.

He was a musician with the band North of Here, a frequent basketball referee at the Saville Centre and an election assistant in Strathcona County, where he grew up. He had lived in Parkallen for just a few months.

"He was just moving on and creating his adult life, and it was just so exciting as parents to watch. And to think that it was lost in an instant is just unfathomable to lots of us who were part of his life," his mother said. 

The family still has questions about what happened that day, when changes to the intersection will be made, and how future accidents could be prevented.

Harvey-Jansen said she hopes the new mechanical arms will be installed before the first anniversary of her son's death.

"I want to see action," she said.

"Community members can make a difference and he lived his life by that." 


Madeleine Cummings is a reporter with CBC Edmonton. She covers local news for CBC Edmonton's web, radio and TV platforms. You can reach her at madeleine.cummings@cbc.ca.