Edmonton

'It's hell-RT with a capital H': Bonnie Doon resident fed up with Valley Line construction

Residents in Bonnie Doon are tired of dealing with noise, dirt and unpredictable pathways in and around construction zones as crews work on the Valley Line LRT.

Bonnie Doon residents cope with years of noise, dust and restricted access

'Light rail trauma, big time'

CBC News Edmonton

3 years ago
1:30
Kelly Kadla is frustrated with LRT construction impacting quality of life for residents living across from the Bonnie Doon mall. 1:30

People living along 83rd Street in Bonnie Doon say construction of the Valley Line LRT is making it hard to get in and out of their homes. 

Since August, tenants at an apartment building on 85th Avenue have been forced to use a makeshift walkway to get outside after crews tore up the sidewalk and street.

Kelly Kadla said the construction is forcing tenants to take a longer, meandering path to nearby amenities. 

He is concerned several of his neighbours with mobility issues are having problems getting to the grocery store in the Bonnie Doon Shopping Centre. 

Since August, tenants have had to take a makeshift walkway to get into the main entrance of their building after TransEd tore up the sidewalk and road. (CBC)

"It's still across the street but you have to navigate yourself ten times the distance at least, to get to Safeway and then push your groceries back," he said. 

Kadla has complained to the city and TransEd, the consortium in charge of construction, but said he hasn't had much response.

"These people are just simply frustrated that their quality of life has gone completely downhill," Kadla said. "It's Hell-RT with a capital H." 

Kelly Kadla has been living in the apartment building across from the mall for 14 years, He said construction this past summer has been intolerable. (CBC)

TransEd spokesperson Dean Heuman said he's heard from about 10 people living in a building where workers built a plywood walkway from the front entrance to the back of the building.

Building a 13.8-kilometre project in an urban environment is bound to cause disruption, Heuman said. 

"We understand people are upset and we understand that it takes great patience to get this project through."

Since the spring, crews have been ripping up pavement and sidewalks to perform work like upgrading the piping in the drainage system.

"What comes after that is we start to put everything back together," Heuman said. "So I understand. I mean it's noisy. It definitely can be dirty."

Heuman said TransEd tries to keep the construction zones as clean as it can using its own street sweepers.

Walk this way

Ruxandra Tomesco lives on 80th Avenue near 83rd Street. She said she could feel vibrations in her home some days last summer. 

"During the day it was kind of stressful if you were at home and you just felt like your house is shaking," she said.

Ruxandra Tomesco lives on 80th Avenue. She said it has been hard navigating the sidewalks to Bonnie Doon Shopping Centre. (CBC)

Tomesco walks to the mall to do her shopping. She thinks brighter signs would help pedestrians navigate a route that seems to frequently change. 

Heuman said his crews inspect signage once a week and often have to replace ones that have been removed .
TransEd says it will 'winterize' signage around the construction zone at 83rd Street as the snow starts to cover the directions painted on the pavement.

TransEd is also getting ready for winter. 

"We did put some stuff painted on the ground, which obviously does not work as well in winter time," Heuman said. "We'll be going through and doing all of our winterization for all of these areas as well."

There is light at the end of the tunnel.

Starting next year, heavy excavation work will be finished and crews will start lighter tasks like running rail and putting up poles.

"You don't have excavators for that, you don't have a lot of machinery," Heuman said. "It's not large work, or as we call it 'earth works.'"

Kadla doesn't think the project is worth the anxiety and declining quality of life faced by residents. 

"It's light-rail trauma...not light-rail transit," he said. 

The southeast portion of Valley Line LRT from Mill Woods to downtown is scheduled to open in December 2020.

@natashariebe

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