On Saturday, April 24, the two newest LRT stations in Edmonton’s network are officially opening to the public, and ETS is hosting a Community Fair to celebrate (on ShareEdmonton). Yesterday, the local media got a sneak peek at the new Southgate and Century Park stations, both of which have been under construction since the Summer of 2007.
The total budget for the South LRT Extension from Health Sciences station to Century Park was $690 million, the vast majority of which ($573 million) came from tax supported debt (to be repaid from the New Deal for Cities & Communities). Construction included two new tunnels: one beneath Belgravia road and one beneath the southbound lands of 111th Street. There are also two new bridges: a one-way bridge over Belgravia Road (connects South Campus to Fox Drive) and one across Whitemud Drive. A total of 26 new light rail vehicles were added to help service the extension.
The total length of the South LRT Extension is 7.361 km:
- Health Sciences to McKernan/Belgravia: 0.9 km (roughly 1 minute, 56 seconds)
- McKernan/Belgravia to South Campus: 1.375 km (roughly 2 minutes, 24 seconds)
- South Campus to Southgate: 2.032 km (roughly 3 minutes, 20 seconds)
- Southgate to Century Park: 3.324 km (roughly 3 minutes, 46 seconds)
The McKernan/Belgravia and South Campus stations opened a year ago, and at the time I complained that the media advisory encouraged driving and parking. I’m happy to report that the media advisory for yesterday’s sneak peek said this:
Please note that there is no public parking available at South Campus Station. Members of the media are urged to use LRT to travel to the event.
Much better – I hope future advisories look the same!
We boarded the train at South Campus, and headed for Southgate station (located on 111th Street between 51st Avenue and Whitemud Drive):
For another view, here’s Southgate back to South Campus. Of the two new stations, I think Southgate is my favorite. It mirrors the recent renovations done to Southgate Shopping Centre very well, so it looks like it belongs. The artwork in the station is called “Immense Mode” and was created by Dawn Detarando and Brian McArthur. We learned about all of the new safety features (including the secure washrooms) and got to wander around. Here are a few photos of the new station:
Next up – Century Park (located on 111th Street just north of 23rd Avenue). Unfortunately the batteries in my flip died on the way there, so I don’t have video of Southgate to Century Park. I have the return trip though:
As it is the end of the line (for a while anyway) Century Park will probably be the busiest of the new stations, housing an 1100-stall temporary Park & Ride lot, in addition to 130 existing parking stalls. When the bus routes are changed later this month to feed into the new LRT extension, Century Park will receive the bulk of the traffic. The artwork in the station is called “Continuum” and was created by Cezary and Danielle Gajeweski. Here are a few photos of the new station:
If you’d like to check out the new stations for yourself, don’t miss the Community Fair on the 24th. It’ll also be a great opportunity to learn more about the changes to bus routes.
What’s next? Well in addition to needing funds to expand the LRT in other directions, the City is already planning for the next south extension to Ellerslie Road. The preliminary design was approved by City Council in July 2008. You can learn more about the future extension here. The currrent LRT network was built to accommodate four-car trains, but work is underway to upgrade capacity to five-cars. The McKernan/Belgravia and Health Sciences stations are being upgraded now, work which is expected to be complete in October. South Campus, Southgate, and Century Park already support five-car trains.
In just a single year, we’ve had four new LRT stations open in Edmonton. Let’s keep it up! You can see the rest of my photos from the preview here.