'They're marooned:' Valley Line LRT construction blocks Edmonton seniors from nearby amenities
'We just wanted to make sure that we weren't inviting an accident in the future'
Valley Line LRT construction has "marooned" hundreds of Mill Woods seniors, making it difficult for them to access basic amenities across the street.
About 500 residents live at the Shepherd's Care Millwoods Campus at 66th Streeet and 28th Avenue. Many rely on services at the nearby shopping plaza for groceries, medication, banking and emergency medical care.
But as of Friday, the northwest sidewalk was closed. Pylons, a barricade and a concrete barrier all blocked access to eastbound pedestrians.
On Monday, CBC saw one woman with a walker forced to double back west by an additional 50 metres or so to access an unlit crosswalk. After crossing four lanes of traffic, she made her way east towards the intersection and crossed twice before finally arriving at the shopping complex.
Another woman ignored the barricade altogether and picked up her walker at one point to navigate the hurdles.
"This situation on the corner is an accident waiting to happen," said Nattris, pointing out that the crosswalk is unlit and many seniors are at greater risk due to poorer hearing, eyesight or mobility.
Nattris called 311 but said all he received was "stony silence."
"I think that they could have more consideration for seniors and the disabilities that they're suffering, and be a little bit more humane in the way that they plan things and check up how the seniors in here are actually doing," he said.
'Common sense has to prevail'
Coun. Mike Nickel, who was notified about the problem by Nattris, expressed frustration over the inability to get answers. He said because the Valley Line is bound by a contract involving a public-private partnership he couldn't get involved directly, but immediately called TransEd Partners, the consortium building the LRT.
"We're going to chase this down," he pledged. "Common sense has to prevail here — you can't cut off a seniors centre to their amenities, to the park. That's just wrong."
On Monday afternoon, Dean Heuman, stakeholder relations manager with TransEd, said the company would implement a "temporary fix" to "make the path to the crosswalk easier to get to, clearer to understand."
But the solution is only temporary. Heuman said the crosswalk will have to be closed in about a week and a half, for eight weeks.
He acknowledged the inconvenience and safety concerns but explained equipment soon to arrive will put pedestrians at even greater risk, making it difficult for drivers turning north on 66th Street to see pedestrians in the crosswalk "until it's too late."
"We were concerned that by creating a blind corner, that one intersection would become very dangerous," said Heuman. "We just wanted to make sure that we weren't inviting an accident in the future."
He said TransEd sent out notification about the construction to all stakeholders, including Shepherd's Care, but didn't specify that the pedestrian crosswalk would be closed.
Shepherd's Care didn't respond to CBC's request for comment.