Staying safe while staying the course: How we’re building Edmonton in the midst of crisis

Safety is an integral part of the culture in the construction industry. Hazard assessments are done carefully, and health and safety plans are strictly enforced for everyone’s protection, whether we’re operating business as usual or under a state of local emergency. 

“The City is committed to working with our staff and our partners to—as much as we can—continue to build our city in a way that protects everyone’s safety,” said Jason Meliefste, Deputy City Manager for Integrated Infrastructure Services. 

“We know our greatest strength is how we work together, through good times and challenging times. We want to provide businesses and citizens the opportunity to continue to work and help us build Edmonton.”

TransEd workers construct a wide section of scaffolding along 83 Street at 76 Avenue.

This year’s construction season

It goes without saying: these are extraordinary times for our city. Each day brings new challenges that require us to evaluate, adjust and re-adjust our practices in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic. 

Our first priority at the City is maintaining the safety of all Edmontonians. Whether it’s our citizens, our staff or industry partners, your health and well-being is at the top of our minds as we navigate this crisis. We’re all in this together. 

As the situation evolves daily, the City is keeping a close eye on developments and what they mean for Edmonton’s ambitious capital building plan and this year’s construction season. 

EPCOR workers install the signal lights along 66 Street at 36A Avenue white maintaining physical distancing.

Infrastructure for future

COVID-19 will cause inevitable impacts to construction projects, as it will for virtually every aspect of the City’s programs and services. But while the world has changed for the time being, we have important city-building work to continue as we adapt to our new normal. We will come out of this crisis. and our city will depend on this infrastructure and these facilities in the years to come.

Edmonton’s climate means we already have a shorter construction season and delays can disrupt project schedules and timelines, and increase costs. 

Now more than ever, we know that construction activity can be an important boost to our local and national economy. The City and our contractors are closely following the guidance of Alberta Health Services. We’re working with our construction industry partners to understand how they are implementing the protocols for their sites to protect everyone’s safety while they help us build Edmonton. 

So while progress may continue more slowly on major infrastructure projects, it is continuing. 

Pedestrian bridge girder installation, Whitemud Drive

Valley Line Southeast

Take the City’s largest infrastructure project to date, the Valley Line Southeast LRT. This is a large and complex project, with sites from Downtown to Mill Woods, requiring careful measures. 

TransEd has deployed its pandemic response team to ensure all necessary protocols are in place and enforced, and enhanced health measures have been implemented on sites along the 13-kilometre route, including full-time cleaning crews dedicated to employee washrooms, offices and lunchrooms, and more site nurses. 

Gatherings and meetings are also being limited to increase physical distancing between workers. 

With these measures in place, progress is continuing along the route. 

Architectural wooden roof at Davies Station

Workers installed the concrete bridge girders for the dedicated pedestrian portion of the bridge over Whitemud Drive at 66 Street. Once completed, the walkway will be 4.2 metres wide. In addition, the second set of cable stays was installed to connect the bridge deck to the tower of the Tawatinâ Bridge over the North Saskatchewan River (pic at top of post), and work is continuing on the Davies Station roof. Production of trains for Valley Line Southeast continues at Bombardier’s Kingston, Ont., plant, which has not closed—Edmonton has received nine trains so far, with one arriving in recent weeks.

Jasper Avenue New Vision 

Work on Jasper Avenue New Vision began recently and is continuing with pandemic safety protocols in response to its specific site needs. There, our construction partner has implemented a safety plan that includes enhanced sanitization and cleaning practices on site, along with staff dedicated to disinfecting high-traffic equipment and surfaces on site. Workers are expected to maintain a distance of two metres, and meetings and other gatherings are being limited to encourage physical distancing. 

 “We know our greatest strength is how we work together”

Staying the course safely

These types of measures are being taken at our sites across the city. 

Our industry partners have demonstrated a commitment to ensuring this work can continue safely, providing crucial employment during challenging economic times, and we appreciate the efforts workers on site are making every day.

This is uncharted territory for all of us, but together we are finding ways to safely stay the course. As the situation with COVID-19 develops, the City will work with its partners to adapt and adjust our approach to ensure our top priority—the safety of everyone—is maintained above all else. Stay tuned to City of Edmonton channels for future updates.