Valley Line West LRT breaks ground in Edmonton

The Valley Line West LRT will be a groundbreaking event in the lives of countless people, including these five Edmontonians making connections at the Lewis Farms Transit Centre.

The mother who was holding her sleeping toddler (he was wearing a superhero backpack) on their way downtown on the bus for a medical appointment. “That’s exciting,” she said of construction plans for the Valley Line West. “I think a train is really needed over here.” 

The student with an Arc card lanyard who had just made a phone call to a friend she was on her way to meet at the University of Alberta’s main campus. 

The woman who was travelling with her sister from the south side to pick up a new security uniform for work. “Taking a train would have been really nice,” she said.  

These passengers shared their transportation stories with Transforming Edmonton on Friday, May 27, 2022, while, a few hundred metres away, an official groundbreaking event for the Valley Line West LRT was taking place. 

Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi at the Valley Line West groundbreaking ceremony, May 27, 2022.

West Edmonton Mall by train

“When I ran for City Council in 2007, I had a dream that one day I would take the train all the way from Mill Woods to downtown to go to work at City Hall and that’s going to happen soon,” said Mayor Amarjeet Sohi of the Valley Line Southeast LRT

“And now, with [the Valley Line West] starting, one day I’ll be able to take the train all the way from Mill Woods to West Edmonton Mall and Lewis Farms,” he said. “It’s amazing to see the growth of our city and that we are building our city of a million more people.”

The route

The Valley Line West will be a 14-km line that connects west end communities and facilities—including West Edmonton Mall and the Misericordia Hospital—to Edmonton’s LRT network. It is to be up and running in 2027. 

From downtown, the line will run west along 102 Avenue, north on 107 Street, west on 104 Avenue past MacEwan University and past Unity Square, along the Glenora neighbourhood and down Stony Plain Road to 156 Street. From there, Valley Line West trains will head south, hooking onto 87 Avenue and up along a guideway to an elevated station at the hospital, then over 170 Street and to the next elevated station at the mall before heading further west to Lewis Farms at Webber Greens Drive (87 Avenue), west of Anthony Henday Drive. 

Ongoing excavation and drainage work near 156 Street and Meadowlark Road will set the stage for work to move the roadway to make room for the LRT line. Photos courtesy Marigold.

The construction

Last season was spent on design and preliminary construction on the line, including landscaping and utility and drainage work.  

“2022 will be busy,” said Brad Baumle, Construction Manager for Marigold Infrastructure Partners, which is the City of Edmonton’s contractor for Valley Line West. 

“The most notable work on the project in 2022 will be through the elevated guideway and the two elevated stations at West Edmonton Mall and the Misericordia Community Hospital.”

The elevated guideway that will carry LRT passenger above 87 Avenue and over 170 Street will start to take shape this construction season, along with elevated stations at the Misericordia Hospital and West Edmonton Mall.

By the end of the year, the elevated sections are to be erected and the two elevated stations will begin to take shape.

Stony Plain Road

Starting in June, the south side of Stony Plain Road between 144 Street and 154 Street will be closed, with the lanes on the north side used for one lane of traffic in each direction. This arrangement will stay in place until the end of 2023. 

Valley Line West stops and stations west of 138 Street will begin to take shape in the 2022 construction season.

As well, some sites for street-level stops on the route will be prepared this year, including the Grovenor/142 Street stop near Stony Plain Road. 

Low-floor, urban-style LRT

The Valley Line West will provide what’s known as a low-floor, urban-style LRT experience. Instead of running along separated corridors and through tunnels on a line dotted with crossing arms and flashing lights (think Capital Line), Valley Line West trains will run alongside traffic—in neighbourhoods at neighbourhood speeds. Construction of this kind of integrated LRT system inevitably involves construction in the communities. 

Low-floor, urban-style LRT is integrated into the communities it moves in and through, like this view of the Valley Line West line near Stony Plain Road and 156 Street near the neighbourhoods of Britannia Youngstown, Canora, Glenwood and West Jasper Place.

“There will be temporary lane restrictions, permanent and temporary access closures as well as occasional night work,” said Baumle. 

“These decisions take safety as well as local concerns into account,” he said. “We will continue to do what we can to minimize local disruption and inconvenience.

Take a look at this video from Marigold Infrastructure Partners with more of what residents, businesses, pedestrians, cyclists and drivers can expect this construction season. 

Treaty 6 

The groundbreaking ceremony was unavoidably forward-looking. But it also made connections to the living past. The land on which the transit centre and future LRT station sit is former Enoch Cree Nation reserve land. 

Adam Laughlin, Deputy City Manager, Integrated Infrastructure Services, May 27, 2022.

“On the Valley Line West LRT project specifically, the City has benefited greatly from knowledge and perspectives shared by First Nations and Métis communities through site visits in 2018, plant harvesting and ceremonies in 2020, and more recently, site monitoring during construction, and a ceremony for National Day for Truth and Reconciliation,” said Adam Laughlin, the City of Edmonton’s Deputy City Manager of Integrated Infrastructure Services. 

“It is important to the City that we continue to engage meaningfully and respectfully with Enoch Cree Nation, and other First Nations and Métis communities with historic and cultural connections to this territory.” 

Marcel Pelletier, with AECOM, an infrastructure consulting firm, performs a smudge, May 27, 2022.

Provincial and federal partners

The project costs $2.6 billion. The Government of Canada provided $948 million and the Government of Alberta provided $1.04 billion.

“As Edmonton grows, so too does the need for green, reliable transportation and infrastructure. The Valley Line West LRT route will help bring residents and visitors alike closer together, providing increased accessibility to the many local businesses, events, and festivals that mark Edmonton as a first class destination,” said Randy Boissonnault, federal Minister of Tourism and Associate Minister of Finance.

“Transit allows people to get to work or school, visit family and friends, and removes barriers to mobility,” said Rajan Sawhney, provincial Minister of Transportation. “The province’s commitment in the Valley Line West LRT helps mark the culmination of years of hard work and planning by many partners involved in this project.”

Moving people

Mayor Sohi said the Valley Line West will help the people of Edmonton. 

“By expanding Edmonton’s current LRT services across the city, we will create a reliable, safe and affordable transit system that allows Edmontonians to get where they need to be when they need to be there,” he said. 

Earth is moved at the site of the future Lewis Farms LRT station, May 27, 2022.

Editor’s note: Dig it! The pic at the top of the post shows the ceremonial soil toss as Indigenous leaders, politicians, City representatives and Marigold Infrastructure Partners gathered to officially kick off construction of the Valley Line West LRT, near the Lewis Farms Transit Centre, on May 27, 2022.