Edmonton

Now it's 30 of 45 concrete piers that need fixing on Valley Line Southeast LRT

Ronald Joncas, the CEO of TransEd, the consortium building the LRT line, said Friday that further repairs are needed to complete the long-delayed project due to issues with the design of steel reinforcements within the piers.

No updated timeline for repairs in latest update from CEO of TransEd

Workers and equipment at a construction site underneath an elevated train track.
TransEd CEO Ronald Joncas emphasized that it's safe to walk and drive beneath all sections of the elevated track.  (TransEd/YouTube)

The wait for the Valley Line Southeast LRT to go into service continues as the CEO of TransEd announced Friday more piers will need be repaired than previously thought.

The $1.8 billion public-private partnership between TransEd and the City of Edmonton is nearly two years behind schedule from the original in-service date of December 2020.

In August, cracks were found in 18 of 45 concrete piers supporting elevated sections of track. About a month later, three more were added to that tally. 

"Each pier is affected by forces in different ways and our engineer assessment has determined how many piers need to be repaired," Ronald Joncas said in a video updated posted Friday. 

"Based on their current assessment, 30 elevated guideway piers need to be repaired." 

Joncas said analysis found the design of the internal steel reinforcement within the piers was inadequate, resulting in cracks.

He noted that although TransEd had previously thought thermal expansion was to blame, thermal forces were not greater than had been anticipated in the design.

Joncas said the additional nine piers now found to have cracks will require minor repairs.

The work to repair the 30 piers with cracks will vary depending on the location and height of the individual piers. Joncas mentioned three repair methods in his video.

Some piers will require small amounts of rebar drilled and anchored into the existing concrete. Rebar is the steel reinforcement used inside the piers.

 "Other piers would be repaired by having a new concrete diaphragm, basically a concrete partial infill," Joncas said. "This diaphragm will provide a further structural support."

The third type of repair will involve an external support system made of steel wrapped around the piers to brace them.

"Think of it as a support belt around the midsection of the piers," Joncas said.

He said no piers need to be repaired on the Tawatinâ Bridge crossing the North Saskatchewan River.

Trains are still being tested along sections of the line, Joncas said. He emphasized that it's safe to walk and drive beneath all sections of the elevated track. 

Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said Friday that the delays are unacceptable and TransEd's responsibility.

"The cost of the project is fixed, so it's not costing taxpayers any more than what the fixed price contract was," Sohi told reporters. "But that's no comfort to the people who have been waiting for two years to get on the train."

Joncas acknowledged the public's disappointment in the project delay.

"We are doing everything we can to repair the pier safely and as quickly as possible," he said.

A future update will be provided on next steps in the repair process and project timelines, Joncas said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mrinali is a reporter with CBC Edmonton. She has worked in newsrooms across the country in Toronto, Windsor and Fredericton. She has chased stories for CBC's The National, CBC Radio's Cross Country Checkup and CBC News Network. Reach out at Mrinali.anchan@cbc.ca

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