One of the most captivating and challenging projects that has come before council since I was elected is the Valley Line West LRT and all of the critical decisions that surround it. I campaigned on ensuring that we see the West LRT project break ground within my term in office, as I believe it to be a formative city-building opportunity for West Edmonton. Throughout my first several months on council I have heard from countless citizens in Ward 5, many of whom wanted to speak to the long-term vision of an Edmonton connected by a fulsome LRT network, while others were focused on very specific elements of the design. That is to say, people are especially engaged on this project, and the resounding sentiment that my team and I have gathered is cautious optimism: optimism at the prospect of connecting West Edmonton to our expanding LRT network, and caution with respect to the questions that still remain about how the project would interact with our existing communities.
I would like to hopefully assuage one of the anxieties that I have heard most frequently from Edmontonians over the past several months. People look at the big crossing arms and the traffic backed up on University Ave., over by Southgate and near Kingsway, and are rightly concerned about the prospect of similar obstructions in West Edmonton. To be clear, the approach for the Valley Line will be to use “urban” LRT vehicles with low-floor technology. You can read more about it here, but what this essentially means is that the trains are designed to interact with traffic more seamlessly than existing LRT infrastructure (and without the big crossing arms). You can also watch this video that I recorded at the live demonstration of the low-floor LRT vehicles in early February:
To add some context, a report is currently being produced by City Administration that will address grade separations and options for major intersections along the proposed line. This report will come before council on March 21st, and should give us the information we need to start moving forward. The report will also be made public, so I welcome any and all of you to follow along and engage with me throughout those discussions. If you're interested, you can register to speak at the council meeting or submit your comments through the Office of the City Clerk.
On March 21st, we are going to have to make some very tough decisions on Council, and not everybody will be happy with every element of the plan. What I can promise you, however, is that my commitment to making sure that this project is built as an asset to West Edmontonians has not and will not change, and any decision that comes across my desk will be made through that lens. Big opportunities like this to enhance the livability and vibrancy of our community don’t come along every day, and I want to see the best possible project that will meet the needs of West Edmonton while pushing us one step closer to achieving our vision of a city fully connected by rapid transit.