Taking Shape: Valley Line Southeast Update 7

It’s been a busy construction season on the Valley Line Southeast LRT line, and there’s lots of recent work to check out, even if the snow has covered up some of it.

102 Avenue

102 Avenue has space for multiple modes of transportation: LRT, vehicle, bike and pedestrian.

Paving-stone sidewalks, bike lanes and an eastbound vehicle traffic lane are taking final form alongside the new LRT tracks on 102 Avenue. 

102 Avenue is becoming Edmonton’s first transit boulevard and a prime example of the complete streets design philosophy. In applying the Sustainable Urban Integration approach, 102 Avenue will be a pedestrian-friendly environment that accommodates all modes of travel. The corridor will feature enhanced streetscaping and landscaping for a vibrant urban place in the heart of downtown Edmonton. The size, placement patterns and colours of the paving stones will help users identify the distinct areas for each mode of transportation. 

Churchill Connector

The Churchill Connector is located on the corner of Churchill Square across from the recently reopened Stanley A. Milner Library.

Crews have been hard at work on the Churchill Connector.

The new building will provide a direct connection into the underground pedway at Churchill Station for transfers to the Capital and Metro lines. Stairs, an escalator and an elevator will provide options for all Edmontonians to move freely between LRT lines. Crews recently installed the escalator and are working on the glass walls around the elevator shaft.

Rail Pull

It keeps going and going and going…

In the downtown Arts District, workers have installed the Valley Line LRT track.

The embedded track on 102 Avenue between 97 Street and 99 Street was built with special sound and vibration dampening technology to not interfere with music and theatre in the area.

Embedded track means that the top of the rails are level with the surrounding surface like a road or sidewalk. This track blends into the urban environment, allowing safe crossings for all road users.

Workers move the rails into place with a Speed Swing. The machine holds the rail just above the ground. As the operator drives forward, the rail is pulled along strategically placed rollers on the ground, keeping the rails from dragging on the ground.

Tawatinâ Bridge

On September 25, 2020, the Royal Canadian Air Force flew over downtown Edmonton for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The main concrete deck of the Tawatinâ Bridge, the river valley’s newest landmark, was completed in September. Crews worked overnight to close the gap between the bridge and the elevated guideway over 98 Avenue. TransEd, which is the consortium contracted to build and operate the Valley Line Southeast, captured a video of this Tawatinâ Bridge milestone.

Kâhasinîskâk Bridge

Pedestrians and cyclists have flocked back to the Kâhasinîskâk Bridge as their preferred route between Mill Creek Ravine and the trail system along the North Saskatchewan River.

Nearby, the newly paved Kâhasinîskâk Bridge over Connors Road has reopened to pedestrians and cyclists in the area.

The name ᑳᐦᐊᓯᓃᐢᑳᐠ or Kâhasinîskâk is an historical Cree reference to Mill Creek. It translates as “slow moving water over stones” in English.

Paving has begun on a replacement shared-use path beside the new LRT tracks on Connors Road. This path will take pedestrians and cyclists up into Strathearn.

Connecting the rails

Workers prepare to weld two segments of track together beside Connors Road.

Heading up the hill—beside the freshly paved shared-use path—workers are welding the rail segments into continuous tracks.

Rails are delivered in 39- and 79-foot segments called strings. On site, crews use either flash-butt welding or thermite welding to join the strings

The workers in the photo above are thermite welding, a unique process that doesn’t require an electric power source.

Taken from an extra safe distance with maximum zoom! Here’s what the welding process looks like while the thermite is on fire.

The canister-like tool is called a crucible, which is clamped onto both sides of the rails to be joined. A dry compound called thermite goes inside the crucible. Workers ignite the thermite.The heat creates a chemical reaction to produce molten iron. The liquid iron fills the rail-shaped mould under the crucible and begins to cool.

⛔ Thermite burns at up to nearly 3,500 degrees Celsius. Hotter than lava.

Once the steel hardens, the rails are connected and the workers can remove any excess material to ensure a smooth ride for future passengers on the Valley Line Southeast LRT.

Strathearn and Holyrood

Holyrood Stop is one of only two split stops on the Valley Line Southeast. At split stops the northbound and southbound platforms are separated by an intersection.

Crews continue to build the community stops in Strathearn and Holyrood. The concrete platforms and steel canopy structures are in place. The large silver cabinets are home to wires and conduits for the electrical systems needed to operate the Valley Line Southeast LRT. Visually, the cabinets may not be the most exciting for everyone, but they are a sign of progress underground.

Between the tracks, workers have begun to install the poles and wires that power the trains. They’re another sign that testing can begin soon.

Bonnie Doon

Now open: the shared-use path in front of the Bonnie Doon Stop shelter.

Workers continued to build the Bonnie Doon Stop, adding new electrical wiring to the steel canopy structures installed earlier this summer.

The streets and sidewalks in the area have begun to transform into final form. Pedestrians have begun to use the new wider sidewalks on the east side of 83 Street and a new shared-use path that runs between Bonnie Doon Mall and the LRT tracks.

Wider sidewalks and new shared-use pathways are common features along the Valley Line Southeast LRT route. It’s one way that the project is giving more than just a new LRT line to Edmontonians.

Avonmore

With paving completed and intersection lights installed, 83 Street is looking more like the finished project every day.

Along 83 Street, new traffic lights have been installed for pedestrian crossings over the LRT tracks. Along the centre of the tracks are poles that support street lights and the Overhead Catenary System (the power wires you see above the trains).

Davies Station

In late August, workers installed glass on the west side of Davies Station.

The only elevated station on the Valley Line Southeast, Davies Station, located along 75 Street at Wagner Road, continues to transform. Workers have installed the exterior glass walls on the west side of the building.

Fluid Landscape designed by Shan Shan Sheng will span more than 26 windows across Davies Station.

On the east side of Davies Station, crews have begun installing the first of many public art installations along the Valley Line Southeast LRT project. 

The 1,300-stall Park and Ride is beginning to look more and more like a parking lot every day. Crews are forming curbs and gutters, linking up to the storm water drains and paving the future parking stalls with asphalt. But this is no ordinary “pave paradise, put up a parking lot” situation.

The Davies Station Park and Ride sits on what planners call an industrial brownfield site, which is land that had already been developed. TransEd remediated the land, meaning that any contamination in the soil from the previous development was cleaned up. Soon, Davies Station will be a key connection point in Edmonton’s sustainable transportation system.

Operations and Maintenance Facility

Take a sneak peak inside the storage area of the Operations and Maintenance Facility.

Nine Bombardier Flexity Light Rail Vehicles, the trains for the Valley Line Southeast, were delivered to Edmonton between June 4 and October 28. Nearly 75 percent of the trains ordered for the project are now at the Gerry Wright Operations and Maintenance Facility. More will be delivered this year.

TransEd began testing the trains on 66 Street last year. Edmontonians can expect to see the trains back out along the tracks for more testing and commissioning activities this winter.

Commissioning is engineerspeak for turning on all the different parts of the LRT system, and making sure everything works as planned. On the Valley Line Southeast LRT project, this includes testing train systems, including the motor, brakes and doors. Commissioning also includes ensuring the right amount of space between the train and infrastructure.

Follow @yegValleyLRT on Twitter to see when the train cars arrive.

66 Street

66 Street at 38 Avenue is freshly paved and ready for traffic heading northbound.

Drivers on 66 Street have likely noticed a few changes to the road over the summer.

From 28 Avenue to Whitemud Drive, TransEd has been reconstructing the road to realign it beside the new LRT tracks. Most of the northbound lanes are now complete and open to traffic.

In addition to the asphalt road work, TransEd has been working with EPCOR for the installation of the permanent traffic lights. New metal traffic poles and signal arms—called davit poles—are being installed for northbound traffic at intersections where drivers will make right turns to cross over the tracks. When the Valley Line Southeast LRT is operating, drivers will not be allowed to make right turns on red lights at these intersections.

TransEd is continuing road work along 66 Street for a few more weeks. Two lanes will open for northbound and southbound traffic over the winter.

Mill Woods

Workers have begun preparing the shared-use path that will run alongside the tracks curving over 28 Avenue.

Crews are preparing the subbase—the layer of compacted gravel—for the shared-use path that will run alongside the Valley Line Southeast near the Mill Woods Stop. It will connect pedestrians and cyclists from 66 Street to both the Mill Woods Stop and the new Mill Woods Transit Centre.

Mill Woods Transit Centre

Artist’s rendering of the Mill Woods Transit Centre, which is located near the Mill Woods Town Centre Professional Building.

The existing bus transit centre in Mill Woods is being relocated to better connect riders with the LRT. The relocated transit centre will be about a two-minute walk from the Valley Line’s Mill Woods Stop. An added bonus for pedestrians: the walkway is covered.

The structural steel is installed on the south entrance to the walkway.

Crews are nearly finished constructing the new Mill Woods Transit Centre. The access roads and the busway—the area designed just for buses—are finished. They are now working on the most important parts for chilly Edmonton winters, the main transit centre structure that includes a large heated shelter and the covered walkway. It will also feature a Kiss and Ride/passenger drop-off location and smaller shelters along the length of the platform.

Crews expect to wrap up construction by the end of the year. Passengers will experience the new transit centre with the launch of the bus network redesign in 2021. 

TransEd’s work constructing the Valley Line Southeast LRT will continue over the winter. As work is completed, Edmontonians will begin to see more train testing activities taking place, an important step in ensuring that Edmontonians have a fully functioning LRT system on opening day in 2021. As always, we will keep an eye on the progress as the Valley Line Southeast continues to take shape.

Thanks for reading with us.