As the City of Edmonton continues with its plans to extend the light transit railway from downtown to Millwoods I can only shake my head in amazement at some of their decisions.
It appears as if the city council is determined to build the much needed LRT without any concern about how they spend the taxpayers’ money. A few years ago when the LRT was built across the Saskatchewan River to the University of Alberta, city council ended up building a brand new bridge across the river. It cost millions of dollars to build the bridge, which accommodates bicycles as well as the commuter train while the railway tracks atop the historic High Level Bridge remain unused. The tracks were originally used by the Canadian Pacific Railway to bring trains across the river but the company abandoned them years ago and they have sat vacant ever since.
To give the city council at that time some credit, there were some discussions with the railway company about the possibility of purchasing the right to use the tracks. After all, it did seem to be the most practical and least expensive way to bring the LRT across the river. However, the city and CP Rail couldn’t come to any agreement and the idea of using the High Level was shelved. I still can’t figure out why the talks failed as it seemed like a win-win situation for the city and railway company. The railway would get money from an asset that has been completely useless to it for years and the city would end up saving a lot of money by using the High Level Bridge instead of building a new bridge.
Now, with city council announcing plans to bring the LRT to Millwoods, it is once again bypassing the use of existing structure and opting once again for the spending extra millions of dollars on a brand new route.
The route calls for the passenger train to be underground from the downtown area to the river where a new bridge would be built across the river. The train would then go south alongside Conners Road and make its way in a southeasterly direction to Millwoods. It’s my believe that city council could save a lot of money by bringing the train across the river to the Strathcona area where there are already railroad tracks in existence. The tracks are rarely used by the railroad company and the LRT could run parallel 99 Street and be at least as far south as 61 Avenue before any completely new tracks would have to be constructed and they could angle east from there.
Surely this idea is worth at least some kind of discussion with the railway company but apparently there hasn’t been any talks between the city and the railway. All it would take would be the building of tunnels at some major intersections and the LRT would be in Millwoods at a fraction of the cost the current plans call for. With the money saved, the city could have an LRT running into the Capilano area and perhaps even into Sherwood Park where thousands of residents use their cars to make the daily trek into Edmonton for work.
Written By: Milton Cust