2019 was a busy year for the Valley Line West LRT project and 2020 is shaping up to be even busier. From utility construction to building surveys to land acquisition, and more, work is continuing all along the alignment to prepare for future LRT construction. If you live or commute along the route, you’ve likely already seen these signs of progress for Edmonton’s largest infrastructure project to date.
We’re relaunching our competitive process to find a contractor to build the Valley Line West LRT.
The project will be delivered using a design-build-finance (DBF) model, which requires the successful bidder to design and build the Valley Line West project, and provide partial financing. Including a financial requirement helps to protect the public by holding back payments. These holdbacks create a strong incentive for the contractor to fulfil its obligations.
Procurement kicked off Jan. 7 with a Request for Qualifications, which invites potential contractors to demonstrate their experience and ability to deliver a project of this scope. The successful bidder will be selected by December 2020 and construction on the project is expected to be completed by 2027.
“As we build a city for 2 million people, we need to grow sustainably and ensure our neighbourhoods are vibrant, walkable and integrated,”
The new strategy comes after two of the three shortlisted teams withdrew from the previous process in July 2019 due to changes within the construction industry. The City temporarily paused procurement to fully understand how the construction industry had changed and to consider our options.
Valley Line West is fully funded. Both the provincial and federal governments have committed to the project, and on April 30, 2019, City Council applied the municipal funding contribution.
The provincial and federal governments are contributing approximately 80 per cent of the project’s total costs — about $1.04 billion from the Alberta government and $948 million from the Canadian government. The City is providing the remaining 20 per cent, which is about $444 million. During December 2019 budget discussions, Council confirmed its commitment to moving forward with the project.
“As we build a city for 2 million people, we need to grow sustainably and ensure our neighbourhoods are vibrant, walkable and integrated,” says Bruce Ferguson, Branch Manager for City of Edmonton LRT Expansion and Renewal. “LRT is a critical part of that vision and the backbone of our city’s integrated transit and transportation network. The Valley Line West will help us transform Edmonton by providing an easy and efficient way to move around while encouraging transit oriented development along the route.”
A major part of preparing for LRT construction happens underground. We might not realize it every day, but a complex grid of water, gas, electric and telecommunications utilities are beneath our roads and sidewalks. It’s a big job to relocate things like electricity vaults, sewer lines and watermains so we can make way for incoming LRT infrastructure. We appreciate the patience of commuters in the city, and particularly west Edmonton, as utility companies such as Epcor, ATCO and many more work to complete these important preparations. We’ve made a lot of progress so far on 87th Avenue, 104th Avenue, Stony Plain Road and 156th Street. In fact, thanks to our utility partners, we’ve completed 140 utility relocations so far. Here’s a breakdown of some of the major work:
- Large storm and sanitary sewer trunk relocations along 87 Avenue.
- Moving power lines underground at 87 Avenue and 170 Street.
- Gas line relocations on 104 Avenue and Meadowlark Road
- Water main relocations on Stony Plain Road, 104 Avenue and 156 Street.
- Fire hydrant relocations on 87 Avenue, Stony Plain Road and 104 Avenue.
- Manhole removals and construction of new shafts and manholes along 87 Avenue.
- Median removals on 104 Avenue.
- Electricity vault relocation and watermain relocations downtown at 102 Avenue.
- And more!
In 2020, we’re on track to complete another 130 utility relocation projects, including major work continuing on 102nd Avenue downtown, 104 Avenue, Stony Plain Road and 87 Avenue.
Building condition surveys
In 2019, our teams of engineers completed building condition surveys on more than 430 properties next to the Valley Line West LRT alignment. These surveys help to protect property owners in the unlikely event that future LRT construction causes any damage to properties next to the route, by ensuring existing building conditions are documented before major construction work on the LRT begins in 2021. In 2020, our engineers expect to visit more than 250 properties and are on track to finish this work by summer 2020.
One of the biggest challenges with building the Valley Line West LRT is how to make all of the incoming infrastructure fit within established neighbourhoods, sometimes on roadways that are quite narrow. The City has purchased 60 per cent of the property needed for the project’s future construction, and over the next year we expect that number to climb to 100. We’ve begun preparing those lands for future construction, taking down vacant buildings and refilling the holes with dirt and sod. So far we’ve removed 17 buildings and expect to continue this work along the LRT route next year.