Any thought of raising the LRT around Bonnie Doon Mall is gone.
Councillors on the city’s executive committee heard Tuesday the pros and cons and the notion has been dismissed once and for all.
The word councillors got from the administration is, lifting the LRT over five intersections won’t really change much on traffic because congestion is already troubling. At peak rush hour, it would be graded an “F” which is the lowest measure possible, so while LRT will take thousands off the road, raising the train above traffic won’t make much of a difference.
“Any changes at this point represent a cost and time risk and delay to the opening of it so we’re not likely to make any significant changes realistically,” Mayor Don Iveson told reporters.
“I’m glad we took a look around this area around Bonnie Doon. I think it’s been one of the ones where we really wondered what those trade-offs would look like, but it’s a pretty expensive solution for a fairly minor challenge particularly when people have other ways around.”
Coun. Bryan Anderson, remembering what went wrong with the Capital Line as it emerged uphill at a six per cent grade from the University, remembers what might have been, had engineers decided to keep the south LRT buried a few hundred feet longer so it wasn’t at the surface at the 114 street and University Ave intersection.
“I think we all agree if If asked anybody that lives anywhere near there including our mayor whether if they were God would they have put it under ground? The answer is yes.”
However even this price tag is too much for him at Bonnie Doon where Whyte and 83 street meet. He wanted to make sure all considerations were thought of ahead of time.
“The evidence to spend $220 million to elevate it, there was no evidence to me that justifies that.”
“Could we take the ten most concerning intersections and prioritize them one through 10,” Anderson asked. “Maybe it’s worthwhile trying to avoid a University Ave scenario by dealing with number one and two.”
While the Valley Line to Mill Woods is a done deal, planning is still being considered for the west leg. The city is not ruling out options between 149 and 156 streets, as well as at the western edge of West Edmonton Mall, said deputy city manager for infrastructure, Adam Laughlin.
“This is a pretty good indicator in order of magnitude of the premium that comes with elevating the LRT system,” Laughlin told reporters, adding that burying below ground is even more expensive.
They know for sure that one intersection will definitely be above grade. The area at 170 Street, entering the West Edmonton Mall station is part of the inner ring road, so the concept plan for the west has been elevated at that location.
“Through the various discussions with council we’ve been asked to look at 178 Street which is the other intersection by the mall but currently the plan shows it at grade. And part of that design work we’re doing right now would look at whether grade separation at that location is the right thing to do.”
Councillors will soon get more info from the administration about potential traffic volumes at various intersections around the city to help them decide if alterations to the LRT design are needed.
The biggest pinch point in the Bonnie Doon area is at 83 Street where the LRT will cross, affecting traffic in all directions, however Laughlin said “it will be manageable.”