Edmonton

Council to consider moving NAIT station to improve traffic flow

City council is considering major changes to the Metro LRT line, just one month after the first passengers stepped aboard.

Relocating the station would mean moving one street and relaying a section of track

The Metro Line from Churchill to NAIT station was completed in time for its original April 2014 opening date. But problems with the signalling system prevented the city from opening it to passengers until September 2015. (CBC)

City council is considering major changes to the Metro LRT line, just one month after the first passengers stepped aboard.

The opening of the line has caused major traffic congestion along the route. On Thursday, city officials said the traffic impacts during the first month of new LRT service were not as bad as initially expected – with only 10-minute delays during rush hour.

Some drivers who spoke to CBC did not have the same positive outlook about sitting idle in their cars for 10 minutes waiting for trains to cross.

"That's a long delay," said Coun. Mike Nickel. "I think we need to be open to any suggestion."

Council plans to consider a drastic solution to the problem: moving the NAIT Station on 106th Street to the south side of Princess Elizabeth Avenue.

While city staff haven't calculated the cost, they said moving the station would mean moving 106th Street farther west to make room for the new station. The city would also have to buy more land, build the new station, and adjust the tracks.

And moving the station would only be a temporary solution. The permanent station will be built in five to 10 years on the Blatchford lands, site of the old city centre airport.

In essence, it would mean "additional throw-away capital costs," according to a report set to go before the city's transportation committee on Wednesday.

Nickel admits the idea is expensive, but said the line needs to be built right.

Traffic was backed up Thursday afternoon as drivers waited at red lights. (CBC)
"There is a cost to sitting in traffic," he said.  "There is a cost to people's time and there is a cost to business when you have these sorts of impacts. And it's not an easy fix."

He said the line is currently under budget, although it's not yet finished. The line will not run at full capacity until the signalling system is fully operational.

The temporary NAIT station was initially planned to be built south of Princess Elizabeth Avenue, but the city changed the plan in 2009 to preserve access to an existing service road.

Council will get an update on when the Metro Line may be fully operational on Thursday.

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