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Member Bio
Sep 22, 2015
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Edmonton’s future LRT plans will start to diverge next week and city councillors will have to choose which road to take.

Council will start work on deciding which of the many proposed line the city could build will be the top priority for future funding.

Administration is asking council to set the criteria to determine which line goes next, before they run numbers on ridership, costs, development potential and other factors to determine which line ranks highest.

Full Story (Metro Edmonton)
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson wants future LRT to go under or over major intersections
Mayor Don Iveson hopes future LRT lines dip under or climb over major intersections to avoid traffic snarls the current lines cause.

The city endorsed the basic principles of the future LRT system during a transportation committee meeting Wednesday, including a maxim that lines go at street level to minimize cost.

But while Iveson said he believes in that idea generally, in some cases avoiding traffic tie-ups may be worth the additional spending.

“We made some decisions on the cheap in the past that were, I think, ill advised,” he said, pointing to both the University Avenue LRT crossing and the Metro Line as examples.

He said by and large the city’s future LRT should run at street level, but there might be a few intersections were spending more on tunnels or bridges would make sense.

“I think our public would say that’s a good investment of money.”

Full Story (Metro Edmonton)
'Skittish' Edmonton council debates tunnels and skyways for future LRT
City Hall tossed about so many plans for elevating or tunnelling LRT lines Wednesday it had one councillor worried if they were “skittish.”

“I wonder if we’re all getting a little skittish because of the Metro Line,” said Coun. Scott McKeen, referring to the northwest line that causes up to 10-minute traffic delays near NAIT. Where Princess Elizabeth Avenue crosses 106 Street, traffic engineers are forced to shut down traffic in all directions once because a last- minute design change sent the tracks west toward Blatchford.

“I don’t want this to be a cascade of errors,” McKeen said. “We’re looking at a $300-million decision that could be over-reaction to council skittishness at the moment.”

No work or decisions on further grade separation will happen until council chooses which direction to head. Debate is scheduled for April 27. But administration said its initial review suggests council may want to consider elevating the west track over 178 Street and 87 Avenue for an estimated $50 million. Edmonton could also tunnel the track to avoid 137 Avenue and Castle Downs Road in the northwest for $70 million. Those options were earlier considered and rejected.x

Full Story (Edmonton Journal)
Go all the way west. New Edmonton report outlines LRT priorities
City officials said Thursday building LRT to Lewis Farms in west Edmonton is a priority.

“It’s a great day, a great day,” said Andrew Knack, the city councillor for the area which relies on bus service.

Beaming, he said he hopes Edmonton can start detailed design immediately with recently announced federal funding. The move would promote redevelopment along Stony Plain Road and serve West Edmonton Mall, one of Alberta’s top tourist destinations.

Officials ranked administration’s top five LRT projects, based on the line’s ability to connect major employment hubs and destinations, encourage new ridership and spur development.

Going west would bring the most ridership, said Rob Gibbard, head of transportation capital planning. But the second priority should be extending the Metro Line one station from NAIT into Blatchford.

The third priority should be taking the existing Capital Line south to Ellerslie, then building the downtown circulator from the University of Alberta main campus to Bonnie Doon.

The fifth priority should be extending the Metro Line from Blatchford to Castle Downs.

Full Story (Edmonton Journal)
Hopes for northwest Edmonton LRT thrown a lifeline
Will kindergarten students in Griesbach get LRT in their neighbourhood before they graduate high school?

Two north-end councillors fighting for it were thrown a lifeline Wednesday.

Mayor Don Iveson urged councillors to delay picking any more LRT priorities until more design work is done. That’s exactly what the north line needs.

“There’s recognition from most of council that the west line makes sense to go next for construction,” said Iveson, speaking after a tense committee meeting Wednesday. But as for building south, north or central after that, “it makes sense for us to do some of (more detailed) design work.”

The extension to Castle Downs was ranked fifth — behind major projects in south and central Edmonton — because the design isn’t as complete, administration found less potential for ridership, and alternative north-end sites for the needed operations and maintenance yard haven’t been considered.

Full Story (Edmonton Journal)
Edmonton council sets priorities for new transit spending
City councillors confirmed a full list of transit cash for promised federal transit cash, hoping to address smaller issues now and plan for the expansion of the city’s LRT system.

The city is expecting $140 million for transit from a program the federal government announced in the spring, which could be matched by provincial investments.

Administration assembled a list of items the city could spend the unexpected windfall on, which includes purchasing more buses and LRT cars, designing future LRT lines, cameras on all buses and building a park and ride lot on the south side.

Full Story (Metro Edmonton)
Building Our LRT, Building Our City
In 1978, Edmonton’s population was just over 478,000 and – with great fanfare surrounding the Commonwealth Games – we became the first city in North America (with <1 million people) to build light rail transit. With yesterday’s Statistics Canada announcement, our population now sits at 932,546, making us one of the fastest growing cities in Canada. And we still have just that one single LRT line.

Since City Council set the full build out of the LRT network as its number one infrastructure priority, we have made some progress in completing our vision, including breaking ground on phase one of the Valley Line LRT from Millwoods to Downtown. But there is still a lot of work ahead of us. In the lead up to their budgets, we are asking both the federal and provincial governments to give us funding certainty as we plan and complete these city-building projects, starting with next phase of the Valley Line LRT, going west to Lewis Estates.

I’m interested in your thoughts on this topic. What are some of the ways we can improve our current system? What would you like to see before, during and after the build out of these projects? I’ll host a Facebook Live event on Wednesday, February 15th at 7:30 p.m. on this topic and invite you to tune in and chat with me about where LRT really can take our city.

City learned lessons from Metro Line about keeping trains out of traffic, says mayor
The Valley Line is already under construction in Mill Woods, but Iveson said council is taking a closer look at the lines it's involved in designing, like the westward Energy Line to Lewis Estates.

"It's really not feasible to do a monorail or a SkyTrain all the way," he said, noting it would be 14 kilometres from downtown.

"To do that whole thing up in the air would be three times the cost."

Iveson said the city is focusing strategically on certain intersections. He called 149th Street and Stony Plain Road, "an interesting possibility."

There is potentially a large site to be redeveloped by London Drugs and Safeway, he said.

"If we could incorporate a train into that with air rights above, there might be a win-win," Iveson said.
Mayor wants five-year provincial commitment for Edmonton LRT
Mayor Don Iveson recruited west-end residents and developers to lobby for stable LRT funding Wednesday.

Standing at Lewis Farms Transit Centre, the future west terminus of the Valley Line LRT, Iveson urged the province to make at least a five-year commitment in its spring budget to support more LRT construction in Edmonton.

That would let city officials finalize plans, study raising or lowering the tracks to avoid key intersections, and begin construction on two new projects the moment construction between downtown and Mill Woods is complete.

Iveson wants to extend the Valley Line to Lewis Farms in the west and the Metro Line into Blatchford at the same time.

“We’ve been … chipping away at this in bits and spurts for decades,” he said, arguing now is the time to get serious about completing the LRT network.

The province has said roughly a fifth of the new carbon levy will go to green infrastructure projects such as public transit in Alberta’s major cities, but it has not given a timeline or budget. It’s been under pressure to step up provincial investment to match federal commitments made during the last election.
LRT to Edmonton's southwest should be be a top priority, say councillors
Two councillors representing the southwest corner of Edmonton say extending the LRT to that part of the city needs to be a top priority.

Last week's announcement of a new hospital for Edmonton in the provincial budget means this needs to be revisited, said Coun. Michael Walters on Monday.

"What we're dealing with here is a part of town that is exploding in growth," Walters said. "The proximity to the airport, people wanting to live close to the university on the south side — I think all that adds up to just enormous demand."

Ellerslie Road and 127th Street is a logical location for the new hospital since the province already owns a chunk of land there, added Walters.

"We have to be very realistic about the growth that we're facing there, and the infrastructure challenges we're facing there," he said.

The proposal is to expand the LRT south fom Century Park to Ellerslie Road at a cost of $627 million.


A map of the LRT expansion from Century Park south to Ellerslie Road. (City of Edmonton)
Proposed south Edmonton hospital bumps urgency for extending LRT beyond Century Park
Word that the province is looking at building a hospital in south Edmonton has members of city council thinking with some urgency that LRT expansion south of the Century Park station is needed now more than ever.

The two top priorities on the public transit infrastructure fund (PTIF) are the Valley Line expansion to the west and Lewis Estates, as well as the Metro Line expansion into Blatchford.

Coun. Bryan Anderson said he was first approached by the provincial government 15 years ago about a south Edmonton campus for MacEwan University — which is now off the table — and for an auxiliary hospital, both at 127 Street south of the Anthony Henday. Anderson sees the need for LRT to happen sooner than later.

“If that hospital is going to be located at that location the provincial government is certainly going to have to decide whether LRT access to that new hospital is at least as important as letting people get to West Edmonton Mall.”
Budget 2017: Edmonton poised to accelerate expansion of Metro Line and West LRT
Big transit bucks from the feds over the long term has Edmonton one step closer to some long-awaited LRT expansions.

But that comes with “a big asterisk on it,” Mayor Don Iveson said over the phone from Ottawa Wednesday.

Iveson's remarks come after the federal budget tabled Wednesday show the Liberals are committing $20.1 billion over 11 years for public transit. The money will be divided by a formula that takes both ridership numbers and provincial population into account.

“Alberta’s share of those funds and Edmonton’s share of that should be sufficient to accelerate out work and fund the West LRT extension and fund the Blatchford extension of the Metro Line,” he said.

The catch? The provincial government still has to pony up, because transit projects are generally split three ways.
I get that this is kinda good news, but I've come to the opinion that the city would be better served by shifting focus on building new LRT lines within the inner city and existing city footprint rather than continually pushing out to the edges. The further the LRT goes the further we continue to induce new development and car-dependency (no matter how dense or well designed a new community might be around LRT), rather that promoting infill, real transportation choice, and providing better options for those who want to live car-free.

Current priorities before this are West leg of Valley line and a Metro line extension, which are good, but I would rather see the Old Strathcona loop studied, designed and funded next rather than continuing further south.

Combine that with a zone-based fare system that reduces the cost of travelling within the inner city.

Councillors push for full LRT build out into deep southwest
Southwest councillors lobbied to get LRT built in one shot all the way to the city’s south boundary Tuesday as officials promised a detailed look at southwest congestion.

Heritage Valley is being planned as a high density urban village centred on an LRT terminal, but city officials aren’t planning to get LRT there until at least 2039.

Without many transportation alternatives, private commuter traffic in the area is flooding south through Terwillegar-Riverbend creating long lineups and near gridlock when one accident disrupts the whole network.

Edmonton is finalizing details for the next south extension, getting design from Century Park to Ellerslie Road ready for procurement by fall 2018. On Tuesday, city officials said Edmonton could save $50 million on the $1 billion project by ordering the next leg – Ellerslie Road to 41 Avenue – at the same time.

That could see LRT reach the south boundary by 2023, taking advantage of promised federal funding. But officials also said Edmonton needs the province to confirm details for two quarter sections of land it owns first. That land is south of Ellerslie Road, west of 127 Street, which could be the location of a new south Edmonton hospital.
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Councillor alarmed by push for south LRT extension
With a new hospital planned for south Edmonton renewing calls to speed up LRT construction in the south, one city councillor is worried about the change in the city's priorities.

City staff told council Tuesday that all six LRT expansion projects are on time and on budget, but council has designated the Valley Line LRT West and the Metro Line LRT (downtown to NAIT) as construction priorities. They will set additional priorities next year.

But Ward 3 Coun. Dave Loken is concerned the Metro Line LRT Northwest extension, which would connect Blatchford to the future City of St. Albert Park and Ride, will become less of a priority as a result.

Councillors rekindle battle over Edmonton LRT expansion
A political battle may once again be brewing at Edmonton city hall over where the LRT goes next.

The Valley Line LRT, now under construction, is the city's current priority. That project will link downtown to Mill Woods in the south and Lewis Farms in the west end.

Extending the Metro Line to the Batchford residential area is next on the list. The Northwest LRT project was to supposed to be the third on that priority list.

But on Tuesday, after executive committee discussed an LRT progress report, Coun. Dave Loken said he was worried that other council members championing other priorities may push back expansion of the LRT into the northwest by 30 years.

"Certain councillors are trying to jump the queue on LRT prioritization," Loken said. "I've been a good team player here. I've supported everything up to this point. But I'm getting impatient."

Battle shaping up over LRT priorities on Edmonton city council

Edmonton Coun. Dave Loken 'dumbfounded' by new push for south-side LRT

David Staples: South got the tracks, and north got the shaft?: LRT feeds city rivalry