Major downtown road closed for month as LRT construction ramps up

Downtown motorists and bus riders will be dodging a major detour for the next month as a busy street will be closed for round-the-clock work on the Valley Line LRT.

Crew will work around the clock to lay first stretches of rail for Valley Line LRT

The intersection at 101st Street and 102nd Avenue will be closed until mid-June to accommodate construction of the Valley Line LRT in downtown Edmonton. (Nathan Gross/CBC)

Downtown motorists and bus riders will be dodging a major detour for the next month as a busy street closes for round-the-clock work on the Valley Line LRT.

The intersection at 101st Street and 102nd Avenue, between Manulife Place and Edmonton City Centre, will be closed to vehicle traffic beginning Friday at 9 a.m., said Dean Heuman, spokesperson for TransEd Valley Line LRT.

The closure will block all north-south traffic along 101st Street. Pedestrians and cyclists who dismount will still be able to cross at that intersection, Heuman said Thursday.

Heuman acknowledged the closure will be a major inconvenience to some commuters but said he is hopeful the bother will be mitigated by people's interest in seeing the line take shape.

"They'll be working for a month, and during that time we're actually going to build the corners of the sidewalk, we're going to put in the rail bed and we actually will be putting rail in while we're here," he said.

"The work will go 24 hours per day for that month to accomplish all that."

This disruption is the first in a series of temporary intersection closures along 102nd Avenue planned for this summer. The next affected intersection will be at 100th Street, followed later by the closure of 97th Street.

Unlike work done elsewhere on the Valley Line, Heuman said these intersections have to be fully closed, rather than a "half-and-half" situation where reduced traffic is allowed through.

Crews will be building sidewalks, rail beds and laying the first stretches of rail for the Valley Line LRT. (Nathan Gross/CBC)

That just isn't possible downtown, he said.

"We're right up to the edge of the buildings on all four corners, so we don't have any room to actually maneuver," he said.

Full closures are more efficient, he said, and better for commuters.

"We can concentrate the work in a much shorter time."

Access to the various downtown parkades won't be affected, he said, but riders of 15 Edmonton Transit bus routes, plus another from St. Albert, will find their stops have moved.

Most of the stops will move one block either east or west, but signs will be in place to direct transit users, said ETS spokesman Rowan Anderson.

Crews have a noise permit to accommodate the round-the-clock disruption, but Heuman said the worst of the noise should be over in the first few days.

Heuman said the intersection at 102nd Avenue and 101st Street will be the first place where people downtown will actually see the new rail line.

Work along 102nd Avenue has to this point mainly involved moving utility lines, he said.

"This is significant for downtown because a lot of the building work [elsewhere in the city] has already started or, in some areas, been completed," he said.

"This is the first glimpse for the people downtown of what the LRT is going to be as we move forward."

The 13-kilometre Valley Line will run from Mill Woods to downtown. It had been scheduled to open at the end of 2020 but the work is behind schedule.