Riverdale all shook up over Valley Line LRT construction

Construction on the Valley Line LRT is leading Riverdale residents to complain about noise and worry about potential damage to their homes.

'I had to take the pictures off the wall,' says one tenant in a Cameron Avenue apartment

The view from Mary-Lou Field's home has gone from park to construction zone. (CBC)

Spring has sprung, the birds are chirping, the bees are buzzing, and if you live in Edmonton's Riverdale neighbourhood, everything seems to be vibrating.

Construction crews are going full bore on the new Valley Line LRT including the new bridge that will allow trains to cross the river.

The Tawatinâ Bridge will replace the Cloverdale footbridge which has been removed except for the concrete foundations.

"We had to put down what we call a cofferdam, which is a set of steel panels, around there so that we can get in there and safely remove the old concrete," said Dean Heuman with TransEd, which represents the companies involved in the P3 project.

This cofferdam allows workers to remove the concrete from the old bridge supports but it requires the steel beams to be hammered into the ground. (CBC)

That particular part of the project is loud and it's leaving Riverdalians a little shaken.

"When they're dumping the rocks it's like an avalanche, and then when they're pounding it feels like there's an earthquake, it's vibrating so much," said Chow Pon, who owns a 12-unit apartment building on Cameron Avenue that backs on to the construction site.

Pon's tenants have been complaining and some have even moved out.

"They've been living here for 15 years or more, those two," said Pon. "They left because of the noise, they couldn't stand it anymore. And there's one that's thinking about leaving."
Some tenants of this Cameron Avenue apartment building have moved out because of the construction. (CBC)

Murray Jurak lives in the building and has experienced the noise and vibration.

"It got so noisy that the water would jump in the pots," said Jurak. "I had to take the pictures off the wall because they would fall off and be destroyed. I think growth is great but I think growth at the expense of property damage or health is the wrong path to take." 

Pon said the construction racket is making it difficult to rent empty suites, and that's affecting his bottom line.

"For sure, because I usually have this place full, there's no problem with renting here," said Pon, who has approached the city over the matter.

"I tried to talk to somebody to see if there's any compensation but they don't seem to respond."

Pon isn't the only one seeking compensation over the disruption. His neighbour, Mary-Lou Field, is trying to sell her home.

"It just scares people away," said Field. "And they don't know how long [it will continue.] Nobody really knows for sure. They've said four years, but who knows?"

The view from the back of her Cameron Avenue home, which is listed for just under $1 million, has changed drastically.

Mary-Lou Field believes the construction is hampering her ability to sell her home. (CBC)

"We had this beautiful view with the bridge and all the roughage and the trees, and so now they've just taken it all down and made a big mud pile and construction site," said Field, who also worries about potential damage to her property.

"I've actually called the city to complain about my windows rattling and my doors shaking. We have a fairly decent house and so to feel that vibration, it just concerns me about what's happening with the foundation."

'Taking away from my profit'

Field doesn't think the city is being fair.

"I don't know what kind of profits they're going to be making but it sure is taking away from my profit in selling the house," she said. "They're doing this for the whole city yet we're the only one paying the price."

Like Pon, Field also wants some compensation.

"There's been nobody saying, 'You know, maybe we'll give you a break in taxes while all this construction and dirt and the headache is going on,' " said Field. "That would be nice, to be taken into consideration as part of the community."

According to Heuman, TransEd is doing all it can to mitigate the disturbance.

Project spokesperson Dean Heuman said property owners will be compensated if damage occurs because of the construction. (CBC)

"We do have vibration monitors all over the area, including on some people's foundations, so we are monitoring the situation to know that we're staying within the allowable limits," he said. 

"Obviously, if there was another way to do this that did not have any impacts, we would love to do it that way." But it isn't possible, he said.

If there is any damage, property owners can expect compensation, Heuman said.

"We're compensating for damage if damage does occur because of the construction."

The work that is causing the most noise and vibration is expected to be finished by the end of July.