📸Taking Shape During COVID: Valley Line Southeast Update 5

Here’s your latest look at construction on the Valley Line Southeast. 

But safety first. 

TransEd, the City’s partner on the project, has implemented all public health orders and recommended safety measures to protect workers against COVID-19. The sheer size of the Valley Line Southeast (over 13 kilometres) allows workers to spread out and keep at least two metres apart. However, many construction activities aren’t one-person tasks. To keep workers safe when they can’t physically distance, TransEd has provided workers with clear, shatter-resistant face visors to attach to their hard hats.

TransEd workers Austin Crane and Dakota Baker have added new face shields to their hard hats to stay safe while working. 

Public health measures may have prevented you from seeing first-hand what’s happening on the line. So, let’s use the blog to keep our distance while we take you on a tour of some of the latest work and the safety precautions. Starting downtown, we’ll make our way south along the route. 

Churchill Stop 

Crews preparing to pour concrete to form the passenger platform at the Churchill Stop at the end of March.

The Churchill Stop, located along 102 Avenue east of 100 Street (the south side of Churchill Square), will be a hub. LRT passengers from the Capital, Metro and Valley Lines will all connect here with the help of a new building called the Churchill Connector. 

Workers have set up short wood walls called forms that hold the concrete in place while it hardens. The metal grid between the forms is called rebar, which adds structure and strengthens the concrete. 

Workers can safely physically distance while building the forms and rebar. Pouring concrete is a bit more complex, requiring a few more people to spread and smooth the mixture into its desired shape. For TransEd that means careful planning and assigning of workers to individual tasks while using protective gear, like the new face visors mentioned above, and gloves and hand sanitizer. 

Tunnels 

Looking south in the northbound tunnel.

Heading east out of Downtown, Valley Line passengers will travel through a tunnel to the River Valley. Inside, crews are installing the final layer of concrete. It’s the third layer of the wall system, which is made up of a layer of concrete, followed by an orange waterproofing membrane, followed by a third layer of concrete, which you can see in the foreground of the picture above. 

The two tunnels (a separate one will bring passengers back Downtown) are 800 metres long combined. TransEd could fit 400 workers in the tunnels based on two-metre physical distancing rules. However, work is scheduled so that significantly fewer than 400 are in the tunnels at any time. And TransEd uses staggered break and lunch times to keep that number even lower while making headway in the tunnels.

As riders exit the tunnel, they’ll cross the Tawatinâ Bridge over the North Saskatchewan River. 

Tawatinâ Bridge

Tawatinâ Bridge under construction over the North Saskatchewan River.

The third set of cable stays—the technical term for the bridge support cables—have been installed on the Tawatinâ Bridge. Once complete, there will be seven sets of these cables connecting the bridge deck to the tower. 

The bridge is being constructed using a cantilever approach. The tower in the middle of the picture above was constructed first. It supports the bridge deck—the part the trains will travel along—which is built in segments outwards in both directions from the tower. As the bridge deck grows, the cable stays are installed for additional support.  

Each bridge deck segment is five metres long, giving crews plenty of space to physically distance themselves. 

Traffic lights

New traffic signal infrastructure in Strathearn along 95 Avenue at 92 Street.

The Valley Line Southeast will travel through 44 signalized intersections between Downtown and Mill Woods. Some intersections previously controlled by stop signs, like the one pictured above in Strathearn, are being upgraded with traffic lights to keep drivers, pedestrians and bicycle riders safe. Not all of the 44 signalized crossings are new. Intersections with existing traffic lights along the route will be updated to work with the train signal system.

Many communities south of the river are starting to see the new traffic signal infrastructure (poles, davit arms, and fixtures/lights) popping up along the route. TransEd coordinates with EPCOR on the davit arms, which are the metal poles that run across the intersection and hold the signal lights.

Site subcontractors, including EPCOR, schedule their work during off-peak hours, including overnight, or in locations where other crews are not working. This approach helps to limit the number of people in an area. Before subcontractors begin their work, they perform a job hazard assessment to identify risks and how they can perform the work while still keeping each other safe. 

36A Avenue and 66 Street traffic light installations by an EPCOR crew in early April. 

🚦Bonus Pic: EPCOR crews practising physical distancing and wearing Personal Protective Equipment as they install traffic signals. 

Whitemud Drive overpass at 66 Street/75 Street

Installation of the north segment of the Whitemud Drive pedestrian overpass at 66 Street.

Whitemud Drivers have likely noticed a change of scenery near the 66 Street/75 Street overpass. 

Protected by overnight road closures, a highly dedicated, eight-person TransEd crew recently worked with a four-person crane team to lift into place the concrete bridge sections for the new pedestrian walkway on the bridge. Using a 660-tonne crane, crews hoisted the 32.5-metre long, 230-tonne segment of the walkway, shown here over top of westbound Whitemud Drive lanes, aligning it and setting it expertly on the north abutment and centre support pier. 

One week later, crews hoisted a 31.9-metre section into place, aligning it with the first segment, the centre support pier and the abutment to the south.

A small crew plus large bridge segments equalled the ability to work safely while physically distanced.    

The walkway, on the west side of the bridge, will give pedestrians and cyclists a four-metre-wide dedicated space to safely travel over Whitemud Drive. The LRT will cross Whitemud on the east side of the bridge. 

TransEd is now ready to move forward with more work on expanding to nine the number of lanes for automobile traffic on the bridge. 

Design rendering of 66/75 Street overpass at Whitemud drive highlighting possible vehicle movements.

Busy construction season ahead

Construction along the Valley Line Southeast route will be very visible throughout the busy 2020 construction season. Edmontonians should expect to see more cable stays installed as the Tawatinâ Bridge expands, new traffic signals put up at intersections along the route, stop platforms constructed, and train rails and overhead power cables installed. 

And the trains will make more appearances along the tracks as testing continues. 

City building safely

COVID-19 precautions on the Valley Line Southeast have built on the hallmark of safety in the construction industry.

The project has adapted to changing circumstances, and followed daily regulatory updates from Alberta Health Services and the Province of Alberta. The project continues to progress safely.   

Thanks for reading. We’ll track progress and share updates as the project continues to take shape. 

Beau Trembley keeps the personal size bottle of hand sanitizer at the ready. TransEd provided the bottles and refills are available for workers at each site.