Edmonton's construction season peaks with Valley Line LRT disruptions

Construction is underway on the Valley Line LRT, making for major traffic slowdowns and plenty of noise.

'This year and next year are massive construction seasons,' says Valley Line spokesperson

Construction signs line 66th Street as Valley Line LRT construction gets underway. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

The first phase of the Valley Line LRT is now under construction. And with nearly all of the work happening at once, it's already making for some major traffic slowdowns and plenty of noise.

"It's probably the largest urban construction project when you consider how much construction is going on simultaneously across the city," Valley Line spokesperson Dean Heuman said Wednesday.
The route for the first phase of the Valley Line. (TransEd)

He knows it's going to be a hectic summer on the city's roads, but he says it's necessary to get the 13-kilometre rail corridor ready on time for December 2020. 

"This year and next year are massive construction seasons," Heuman said. 

"After that, we're laying track, we're running electrical. It does ease the burden on the citizens dramatically at that point. It has to happen in order to make the time frames."

Some of the summer's construction hotspots include:

Mill Woods (66th Street)

Noise-blocking walls are being installed along 66th Street over the next six to eight weeks.

Paving and track work will continue along the street until 2020. Changing traffic patterns and evening work are expected.
From 28th Avenue all the way to the Whitemud, 66th Street will see plenty of construction over the next three years. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

83rd Street

There will be a permanent single-lane closure along 83rd Street between Argyll Road and Whyte Avenue. Work is expected to start in late June. Again, this is a permanent change.
The construction site of the Gerry Wright Operations and Maintenance Facility. (Travis Mcewan/CBC)

Summer festivals unaffected

Festivals at Churchill Square will not change locations. Construction on the square and on 102nd Avenue begins in August, when festivals wrap for the season.

Operations facility being built

The Gerry Wright Operations and Maintenance Facility is being built along 51st Avenue and 75th Street.

The building will be the base for Valley Line staff and maintenance workers.
Between Argyll Road and Whyte Avenue, a section of 83rd Street will permanently change from double lanes to single. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

75th Street

The stretch of 75th Street between Whitemud Drive and Argyll Road is down to single lanes as waterlines are installed, elevated guideway foundations are laid and LRT construction is completed.

Overnight work may be required, but residents will be notified before any of that begins, according to Heuman.
From the Whitemud to Argyll Road, traffic is expected to slow as construction of the Valley Line temporarily turns 75th Street into single-lane traffic. (Travis McEwan/CBC)

Added danger for cyclists?

Victor Gobeil, a 50th Street resident and regular cyclist in the Mill Woods area, said Wednesday the construction is making his daily commute more difficult as drivers navigate the traffic changes. 

"It poses a bit more risk — I've practically got hit a couple of times because people are figuring out the new lanes," Gobeil said. "But if it's for three years, people are going to have to get used to it."

Fellow cyclist Adam Erdely, who was riding his bike near the future Millbourne-Woodvale LRT station Wednesday evening, said it will all be worth it in the end.

"I'll be glad when it's done but until then, it's going to slow down a lot of things," Erdely said. "But in the long run ... it'll make things a lot faster to get around town."

With files from Zoe Todd