LRT Construction Downtown: Short-term pain, long-term gain!

I’m excited about the expansion of our LRT network and what it’ll mean for Edmonton. It’s going to take a while until the entire network is completed, but work is already underway. While I would definitely fall into the YIMBY camp on LRT construction, that doesn’t mean there aren’t annoyances along the way. I just keep reminding myself – short-term pain, long-term gain!

The North LRT to NAIT is a 3.3 km extension from Churchill Station to NAIT with a total estimated cost of $755 million. Construction began in 2011 and over the last couple of years there has been a lot of activity along 105 Avenue and 105 Street in particular. The new line runs right through Sharon’s route to work, so she has experienced first-hand the inconveniences caused by the construction. The City has been proactive about meeting with affected stakeholders, and they even have an interactive map online, but that doesn’t completely make up for the ongoing issues.

North LRT to NAIT Construction

Closures might mean a slightly different route for motorists or a few extra minutes of travel time, but the impact on pedestrians is often much larger. Closed sidewalks can mean large detours into unfamiliar and poorly marked territory. When it’s cold out, a few extra minutes in a vehicle isn’t such a big deal but for a pedestrian it can be (and that makes jaywalking an attractive option). You’re also much more likely to find signs for vehicles than you are for pedestrians. Other issues include construction noise and, thanks to our up-and-down weather, treacherous and messy conditions.

North LRT to NAIT Construction

The new extension is slated to open in April 2014. Short-term pain, long-term gain!

The Central Station LRT Rehabilitation is a renewal rather than an extension. It will repair issues with the roof and ensure the station is functional for years to come. The City is also taking the opportunity to make streetscape improvements to Jasper Avenue between 100 and 102 Street. I work in the Empire Building at Jasper Avenue and 101 Street, which is basically ground zero for the project (and there’s also the First & Jasper construction right across the avenue).

Central LRT Station Construction

The construction team has been good at keeping everyone in the area up-to-date, with notices in the mail and electronic updates delivered through our property manager. That doesn’t mean the daily maze is any less annoying, however. I try to go through the back of the building to avoid the mess altogether, but every few days I need to use the front entrance for some reason, and determining how to navigate through the ever-changing array of fences gets old fast. There’s always construction noise to deal with too, though thankfully there have only been a few occasions when it has been disruptive.

Central LRT Station Construction

I know that travelling down 101 Street for vehicles sucks because traffic moves so much slower through the construction, but at worst you’re looking at a few minutes of delay. Compare that to the impact on pedestrians. Walking from the Empire Building to Scotia Place used to take a few seconds, we’re talking probably 30 steps or so. Now because of the fencing and detours, it takes probably ten times that! That’s a significant impact (though a little extra walking never hurt anyone).

The project isn’t expected to be complete until October 2013. Short-term pain, long-term gain!