TLC for LRT: 2020 in review

As Edmonton dips into colder temperatures, LRT renewal projects are winding down along the Capital Line after a busy construction season. 

From stations to tracks to the systems that power it all, the City’s current LRT network underwent some major improvements in 2020. 

Some upgrades are visible, such as new crossing gates and renovated platforms. Other work is behind-the-scenes, like repairing waterproofing materials or replacing substations that power the trains. All of it is vital to a smooth and reliable LRT network.  

Here are five projects that took place this year to keep you comfortable, safe and moving on the LRT.

Stadium LRT Station redevelopment

Although major sporting events and concerts at Commonwealth Stadium are currently paused due to COVID-19, work is forging ahead on the 42-year-old LRT station that serves it. 

The Stadium LRT Station redevelopment started in May 2020, and is expected to be completed in 2022. This year, crews have been working on demolition, including removing the roof and demolishing walls to prepare for the installation of the new platform.

Renovations such as removing the underground concourse and adding new lighting will enhance safety. The station will also have a new south platform to better handle the crowds from Commonwealth Stadium events. Meanwhile, new pedestrian track crossings at both ends will enhance connections to the nearby neighbourhood. 

When the redevelopment is complete, Stadium Station will have two platforms. Crews are working on adding the new platform on the west side of the tracks, which will serve southbound passengers. The existing platform will remain to serve northbound passengers.

Revamping the building while keeping transit running is a delicate balance. Unlike building a new facility from the ground up, it’s impossible to anticipate all of the conditions crews might come across when they take apart an old facility. At Stadium Station, crews have encountered leaks, unexpected pipes and deteriorating concrete. And while these kinds of surprises are common in older facilities, they take extra time to repair, which impacts LRT schedules. 

“We appreciate everyone’s patience as we work to improve the station,” said Jarek Karpiejuk, Director, LRT Expansion and Renewal. 

“We’ve worked really hard to minimize disruptions, but it has caused some challenges for LRT customers so we thank riders for bearing with us,” said Karpiejuk. “We understand that it’s frustrating in the short-term, but the end result will be a safer, more comfortable and more functional station that will continue to serve our city for decades to come.”

Crews are completing the construction in phases to help minimize service disruptions to transit riders. However, to keep projects on time and complete the work safely, some LRT service changes are needed. 

For LRT customers, this means both Capital and Metro Line trains will run every 15 minutes until spring 2021. Please visit edmonton.ca/tlcforlrt so you know what to expect. 

Stadium LRT Station is a busy transportation hub that serves crowds attending events at Commonwealth, commuters, and the nearby transit-oriented development, the Muttart Lands. 

Artist’s rendering of the Stadium LRT Station redevelopment looking north. 

Pedestrian crossing upgrades

Safety is a top priority for the City, and this includes making streets safer and more livable for everyone. 

Pedestrian control devices, including crosswalks and traffic signals, help protect people when they cross the street. This year, crews upgraded five LRT crossings along the Capital Line to help people cross the tracks safely. 

The mechanical gates prevent people from crossing the tracks on the city’s high-floor LRT systems when the arms are down. 

Upgraded pedestrian crossing arms and lights at Health Sciences/Jubilee LRT Station. The construction work started on June 18 and was completed on June 30. Photo: Graham Construction.

Crews also replaced the road gate signal systems that control the crossings, added new yellow platform warning tiles, and widened sidewalks to make them more accessible. 

Track Replacement

Down at track level, crews replaced the old wood railroad ties with concrete ties to meet new rail standards along the southbound track near Stadium Station. These railroad ties support the rails and keep them spaced correctly. Wooden ties were traditionally used on many railways, but concrete ties have a longer lifespan. 

New concrete railroad ties installed on the Capital Line near Stadium LRT Station

LRT Platform Renewals

Crews renewed the LRT platforms at McKernan/Belgravia LRT Station and Coliseum Station this year. The McKernan/Belgravia Station platform was demolished and reconstructed, and both stations received new platform warning tiles. Next year, crews will renew the platform at South Campus/Fort Edmonton Park Station.

New platform warning tiles at McKernan/Belgravia LRT Station. 

Jump frog near Southgate Station

On October 10 and 11, track crews installed a jump frog north of Southgate Station, making Edmonton’s LRT system the second in Canada to use a jump frog in a transit application.

A jump frog allows for less noise and reduced wear on track parts when trains are travelling over this junction. This means quieter service for customers, less noise for surrounding neighbourhoods, lower maintenance costs, and a much longer life cycle.

Crews work on installing a jump frog north of Southgate Station. 

What’s next? 

While work is winding down along the LRT system, it’s not stopping. Over the winter, crews will continue working at Stadium LRT Station to complete the demolitions, finalize the new platform and install the new east canopy. 

Thanks for reading, thanks for riding safely!

To keep up with the latest construction updates and ETS service changes, visit edmonton.ca/tlcforlrt or follow @takeetsalert

Editor’s note: the pic at the top of post shows Stadium LRT Station under construction. Crews have demolished walls and removed the east canopy of the station, and work is starting on the additional platform, which will serve southbound customers.