Edmonton

Edmonton councillor predicts 'nightmare traffic congestion' without south LRT extension

Edmonton could face 'nightmare traffic congestion' if it doesn't properly plan the extension of the LRT to the city's south boundary, says Coun. Michael Walters. The city is finalizing details for the next south extension of the Capital LRT, getting design from Century Park to Ellerslie Road ready for procurement by the fall of 2018.

'It's the fastest growing quadrant of the fastest growing city in Canada,' says Michael Walters

Coun. Michael Walters says the city needs to speed up the extension of its Capital LRT line to Edmonton's south boundary. (CBC)

Edmonton could face "nightmare traffic congestion" if it doesn't properly plan the extension of the LRT to the city's south boundary, says Coun. Michael Walters.

The city is finalizing details for the next south extension of the Capital LRT, getting design from Century Park to Ellerslie Road ready for procurement by the fall of 2018.

City officials told councillors at the executive committee meeting Tuesday that Edmonton could save $50 million on the $1-billion project by doing the second leg, Ellerslie Road to 41st Avenue SW, at the same time.

"It's the fastest growing quadrant of the fastest growing city in Canada," said Walters.

"What we see there now is 15 per cent of what's planned. We have to get ahead of this."

If nothing is done to speed up construction, "then we're going to have nightmare traffic congestion," Walters said.

The initial plan has construction of the Century Park to Ellerslie Road leg set to begin in 2019, and the Ellerslie Road to 41st Avenue SW leg to begin construction 20 years later, in 2039.

That's too late for Walters, who represents Ward 10, which takes in a large part of the south end of the city.
This map shows the two segments to the Capital Line LRT extensions to the south city boundary. (City of Edmonton)

"By delaying the train construction that far south we're actually delaying part of our land-use objective, which is to build transit-oriented development," he added.

A high density urban village called Heritage Valley is planned for the area around an LRT terminal as part of that second leg.

However, to move the LRT that far south, Edmonton needs to confirm what the province has planned for 320 acres of land it owns west of 127th Street and south of Ellerslie Road.

The provincial government has plans to build a new hospital in Edmonton, but a location has not been announced.

"We can't finalize the track alignment, we can't finalize the station location because that's all dependent upon knowing how the land will be used," said Nat Alampi, director of LRT infrastructure.

The committee passed a motion for city staff to look at public transportation, road work and expected population growth in the city's south.

A report is to come back to city councillors next year. In the meantime, the city is scheduled to overhaul its 10-year transportation master plan, and this report will be part of that work.