Construction in downtown Edmonton plays core role as City builds for future

The City has been busy downtown this construction season, and the results are coming into view.

“We know that our downtown core serves a purpose for so many, and we want to continue building it as our city continues to grow and welcome more residents,” said Adam Laughlin, the City of Edmonton’s Deputy City Manager of Integrated Infrastructure Services. 

“Whether downtown is your home, a destination or a safe and welcoming place, we commit to making it even better,” he said. 

Art by Kirsten McCrea at the Downtown-102 Avenue LRT Stop uses patterns and motifs from around the world to showcase the many intersections of culture that make up contemporary Edmonton. It is titled #YEG Cultural Connections.

Connecting communities by LRT

The Valley Line Southeast LRT, which connects downtown Edmonton to Mill Woods, is expected to be operational by the end of the year. Energization of the entire overhead power system—meaning the power is on—is nearly complete. Testing of trains along the alignment is in progress. Finishing touches, including naturalization, reforestation and public art,  are being added along the 13-kilometre line.

Connecting downtown to neighbourhoods and businesses to the west will be the work of the Valley Line West LRT. 

The City’s contractor, Marigold Infrastructure Partners, continues to make progress on early construction on the 14-km line, which will have 14 stops and two stations, including service to Stony Plain Road, the Orange Hub, the Misericordia Hospital, West Edmonton Mall and Lewis Farms. 

Crews take soil samples to prepare for construction along the Valley Line West LRT route, which will connect downtown to points west.

Design of the Valley Line West alignment is almost finished. Borehole drilling, surveying and site preparations are underway. Most of the construction starts next year.

Imagine Jasper work on the north side of Jasper Avenue at 111 Street, in August 2021.

Core connections

The Imagine Jasper Avenue work is progressing, as well. Almost complete is the new walk on the south side of Jasper. Other improvements include new curbs and gutters, ramps, planting beds and benches. 

Aerial view of Imagine Jasper work, August 2021.

The eastbound lanes of  Jasper Avenue, between 109 Street and 114 Street, are being removed and will be rebuilt and paved by the end of September. 

New pavement is part of Imagine Jasper improvements.

The entire project will be completed by the end of this construction season, aside from some tree and shrub plantings that are dependent on the weather. 

Aerial view of Jasper New Vision work, August 2021.

Jasper Avenue New Vision is also well underway. The project’s goal is to restore and enhance the avenue, giving it a consistent look and feel, highlighting the downtown core and providing a safe and enhanced experience for those who walk, bike, drive or use transit. 

Jasper New Vision improvements near 97 Street.

The project is moving into the revitalization of westbound Jasper Avenue from 97 Street to 100 Street, 97 Street from Jasper Avenue to 102 Avenue, and other parts of the area.

Jasper New Vision work overlooking 97 Street.

Kinistinâw Park

Kinistinâw Park is a beautiful, new space downtown. It reflects the past, present and future stories of the community. The park is located at 102 Avenue and 96 Street. Its main feature is a red, eye-catching, ribbon-shaped canopy.

Kinistinâw Park creates a community space for people to gather and to attract further redevelopment to the area.Kinistinâw is a Plains Cree word meaning “us three.”

Art installations will be added to the park later this year.

Investing in downtown

Laughlin acknowledged that Edmonton’s downtown hasn’t been spared from pandemic fallout.

“We know that the pandemic had negative impacts on our city’s downtown, and we’re looking to create the conditions for a vibrant downtown throughout our COVID-19 recovery and into the future,” he said. 

“That’s why we are continuing to invest in the heart of our city.” 

Here’s what some of that investment looks like in real life:  

An additional investment of $100 million in downtown infrastructure is on tap. This funding will improve the heart of our city even more with projects like Warehouse Park, Centennial Plaza Redevelopment as well as the McDougall Pedestrian Bridge. 

Construction on the commute

The construction work downtown is part of a bigger building-Edmonton story. 

“We are currently in the midst of a massive infrastructure build with 273 projects on the go,” said Laughlin. 

That means whether you are reacquainting yourself with downtown, or again out on the road on the way to school, you will likely encounter construction on the commute. 

“With more Edmontonians on the road this month than the past year and a half, we want to remind Edmontonians to prepare for construction on their commute,” said Laughlin. 

Along 66 Street, TransEd crews are focused on paving both the road and the new shared-use path that runs alongside it as part of Valley Line Southeast LRT work.

Prepare in real time with the Traffic Disruption Map. You’ll find suggestions for alternative routes, and proposed timelines for construction. 

Work is underway to widen the east end of Yellowhead Trail, here looking west from Victoria Trail.

Building Edmonton

The City is digging into projects big and small to provide the roads, paths, lines, parks and neighbourhood infrastructure to make life better and smoother here. 

The Yellowhead Trail Freeway Conversion, pictured above, will see three lanes for free-flowing traffic in each direction.  

Looking northbound over work on Terwillegar, August, 2021.

The first phase of construction to widen and enhance  Terwillegar Drive—between Anthony Henday Drive and Whitemud Drive—is happening. 

Crews install a catch basin at 87 Street and 119 Avenue in the Eastwood neighbourhood, August 2021.

Neighbourhood Renewal work continues in 12 communities across the city, including Eastwood/Elmwood Park, pictured above. 

As part of the Building Great Neighbourhoods work in Garneau, special tree cells have been planted underground on 88 Avenue, over which a wide sidewalk will be installed. 

Underground soil cells, seen here in August, 2021, will keep trees on 88 Avenue healthy.

The cells prevent the soil from being compacted, allowing the trees to enjoy a healthy root system. 

The Stadium LRT Station Redevelopment project will see a new station building, new accesses, a new platform and an overhead canopy. 

Work on the Stadium Station Redevelopment, July 2021. Photo courtesy Ellis Don.

Thank you for your patience

The City realizes that all of this construction work can be disruptive for Edmontonians, and as always,  a deep thank you is in order. 

“We really appreciate people’s understanding and support as we continue to improve our city,” said Laughlin. 

“These projects not only help us economically by creating good jobs at a time when they are desperately needed, but also set our city up for success in the future as we build a city that will eventually be home to two million Edmontonians.”

Train testing on Connors Road. Courtesy TransEd.

Editor’s note: the pic at the top of the post shows the results of construction at Jasper Avenue and 100 Street in downtown Edmonton. 92 percent  of the City’s capital projects are on budget, with 81 percent on schedule.