The Valley Line LRT is part of the City of Edmonton’s “commitment to grow green and create a compact, more integrated urban environment where people have an opportunity and choose to use alternative transportation modes.” Originally, Edmonton’s LRT system consisted of only the Capital Line, which ran from the northeast through downtown to the university before it was extended to Health Sciences, Belgravia, and Century Park. As a part of the city’s new vision and goal for the LRT system, the Metro Line opened, including stations at NAIT, Kingsway, and MacEwan. Next up in the long-term LRT Network plan, is the Valley Line which will operate between Mill Woods and Lewis Farms, connecting the southeast with the west using a 27 km, low-floor, urban line.
A Public-Private Partnership (P3) construction project, the Valley Line LRT is being designed, built, and maintained by a team of professionals, TransEd Partners, along with the city – it’s one of Edmonton’s biggest major construction projects. The partnership group includes Bechtel, EllisDon, Bombardier, and Fengate Capital Management Ltd., as well as Arup Canada and IBI Group. Construction for Stage 1 of the project, a 13.1 km stretch from 102 Street downtown and Mill Woods, has been underway for nearly two years now and is budgeted at $1.8 billion. While construction is underway at various points along the line, if you frequent the Whitemud or 75 Street, you’re sure to have noticed the construction underway (not to mention the traffic interruptions and lane closures on the Whitemud). Dubbed “Area 7” of Edmonton’s TransEd LRT Valley Line route, the location will be home to the Gerry Wright Operations and Maintenance Facility, a large portion of Stage 1 (Valley Line Southeast) of the project. But the Gerry Wright Operations and Maintenance Facility isn’t a stop on the line, rather it’s a large facility for housing, cleaning, and servicing the Valley Line’s LRT vehicles. Plus, the Area 7 construction includes a bridge over the Whitemud and next to the 75 Street overpass.
Named for Gerry Wright, a University of Alberta professor in Community Development and Public Affairs from 1972 to 1992 and former City Councillor, the facility honours an Edmontonian who was integral to the development of the city’s original LRT. Despite opposition in the 1970s, Wright’s report “The Immediate Answer for Edmonton” argued the benefits of Light Rail Transit and offered it as the responsible solution for Edmonton’s car culture. Wright was also a proponent for protecting the city’s lush river valley and preserving its historical districts, even protesting against a freeway through Old Strathcona.
While construction has been underway for over a year, the work on the west side of 75th Street is finishing up presently, with the north-south traffic shifting to allow work on the permanent northbound lanes (closing McIntyre Road on the east side but opening the lanes on 75th Street from Wagner Road to the CN train tracks). The Gerry Wright facility’s structure is complete and the building’s exterior, walls and roof, is the focus for summer 2018. Construction is on schedule for the Traction Power Substation (TPSS) building onsite and it’s currently being installed (the LRT tracks will be installed this year as well). Currently, bridge girders are being erected for the Whitemud Bridge and once it’s complete, the on and off ramps on the east side of the 75 Street overpass will be closed for about six months so the Shared Use Path portion of the bridge can be built this year.
Images sourced from transedlrt.ca
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