CP pulls up 100-year-old tracks in Old Strathcona
Community sees opportunity for new thoroughfare
Century old rail tracks in Old Strathcona are being pulled up, making room for a much needed new avenue, according to the local business association.
The tracks were laid in 1907. They’ve since cut Old Strathcona in half, making it impossible to build new routes between Gateway Boulevard and 102nd Street.
“To actually see them be removed, we were quite excited … we’re wondering what’s going to happen,” said Murray Davison, president of the Old Strathcona Business Association.
Davison said congestion on Whyte Avenue makes it difficult to move east to west, especially for ambulances travelling to and from the University of Alberta Hospital.
“You see on a regular basis they can’t move on one side so they have to go into oncoming traffic to get through the area,” he said.
Davison said he would like to see 76th Avenue — currently divided by the tracks — become a new thoroughfare from Gateway Boulevard to 100th Street.
Tom Booth, the owner of Specialty Installations, said connecting the two sides of 76th Avenue would make it much easier to get around Old Strathcona. His business is not far from the tracks.
“For the past six weeks or so I’ve noticed CP Rail has been coming along and they’ve been pulling up the tracks that run along, between Whyte Avenue and 63rd Avenue,” Booth said.
Shortly after that, the crossing arms on Whyte Avenue disappeared as well.
'Lots of opportunities'
Booth wants the city to buy the land to create a new road while they still have the chance.
“I don’t want to see it sold off to become more condos before we have a chance to look at that option,” Booth said.
Coun. Ben Henderson said CP has not let the city know they’re pulling out of the area, but he’s already heard ideas from the public about what the land could be used for.
“I think the one big call, that has been there all the way along, is some kind of transportation connection,” Henderson said.
Mayor Don Iveson suggested the city put a multi-use trail on the land, or run buses down the corridor. He said the possibilities are intriguing.
“We’d have to do some long-term studies in there and see what kind of development was going to happen on the lands,” Iveson said.
“It’s a long road, but I think it opens up lots of opportunities for the city.”
A spokesperson for CP would not confirm how much track will be removed, or what the company has planned for the land when the tracks are gone.
- An earlier version of this story said Davison wants 79th Avenue to become a new thoroughfare, when in fact, he was talking about 76th Avenue. The story has now been corrected.Sep 25, 2014 10:19 AM MT