Edmonton's Blatchford LRT stations set to open in 2024, shortlisted Capital Line South builders to make final pitch

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Edmonton’s new Metro Line LRT stations in Blatchford are expected to open ahead of schedule early next year, and two finalists for extending the Capital Line LRT South to Ellerslie Road will be invited to make their final pitches to the city starting Friday.

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The city’s head of LRT expansions told Postmedia Wednesday that the approximately $290-million, 1.6-kilometre extension with two stations in Blatchford is going smoothly. Bruce Ferguson, a city branch manager, said rather than finishing two years from now in 2025, he’s hopeful construction will wrap up this year so service can begin in early 2024.

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“It’s going really, really well, but no one sees it because it’s almost all located in Blatchford. We’re anticipating finishing construction of that this year, and looking at opening hopefully early next year,” Ferguson said in an interview.

“They’re just starting to fit out the stations with things now. The track’s all there now, it’s looking pretty good … right now we’re putting solar (panels) on the station, the majority of the power in the station will come from those.”

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Train service up to Blatchford, with the two NAIT/Blatchford and Blatchford Gate stations being built by PCL Construction since 2020, would complete the first of three phases in a long-term plan to extend the Metro Line LRT to northwest Edmonton. Funding was divided in a 40/40/20 split between the federal government, provincial government and the city.

The other two segments are much longer. In December, city council agreed to spend $20 million over four years to buy land for the second phase, an approximately 4.2-kilometres route to Castle Downs with four stations. About $25 million was spent earlier on design.

The third phase — about 5.2 kilometres with three stations from Castle Downs to Campbell Road — hasn’t been funded.

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A 2019 business case for the Metro Line extension pointed to a need for more LRT service in the northwest since Blatchford expects to eventually be home to 30,000 people. That plan — which envisioned a fourth extension to St. Albert — anticipated shuttling 8,000 transit users on opening day.

Developing Blatchford has lagged far behind the city’s vision for a bustling carbon-neutral neighbourhood with just over 30 occupied homes as of last summer.

Finalists for Capital Line LRT to bid

Meanwhile, the Capital Line LRT South extension to Ellerslie is also making headway.

Two finalists were chosen from four bidders after a competitive request for qualifications process last summer — Capital Line Design-Builders and PCL-Graham South Line Solutions. Two groups will receive final bid packages on Friday, Postmedia has confirmed, and the city expects to choose the builder this fall.

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Major construction is expected to start in 2024, while early preparations have been underway since last year.

Ferguson said the city has a list of criteria for the contractor they will ultimately choose.

“A lot of them boil down to experience — experience with LRT, experience with projects of a similar size and complexity, the people they propose to bring to the project,” he said. “What are their other commitments, to make sure that they’ve got the capacity.”

Both proposed builders are a group of companies. Capital Line Design-Builders is comprised of Aecon, AECOM, and Ledcor. PCL, Graham and Jacobs make up PCL-Graham South Line Solutions.

The 4.5-kilometre, $1.1 billion extension involves a fix-priced contract using a design-build process with the city, not a P3. The city provides the initial design, but the final design and construction will be completed by the contractor.

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There will be two stations added in this phase — Twin Brooks and Heritage Valley North. It will use high-floor trains, similar to those already in service on the Capital Line, and will be operated by Edmonton Transit Service once complete.

The city will be buying more light rail vehicles after using funding approved by council last year to replace 37 older U2-model cars, and to add new cars for this line and future extensions.

The second phase to Allard/Desrochers station north of 41 Avenue hasn’t been funded.

Edmonton has four LRT extensions currently in the works — Valley Line Southwest LRT to Mill Woods, Valley Line West LRT from Downtown to Lewis Farms, Metro Line LRT Northwest to Blatchford, and Capital Line South LRT extension from Century Park to Heritage Valley.

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No date for opening Valley Line Southwest LRT has been given after the delay was extended indefinitely last year. The $1.8-billion, 13-kilometre line has 11 street-level stops and one elevated station.

Marigold Construction partners started building the 14-kilometre west leg of this line last year, which involves third-party financing. The group is working on bridges at Groat Road and Anthony Henday Drive, a guideway near West Edmonton Mall, utility relocations and construction along the route, and maintenance facilities, said Ferguson. The $2.6-billion line will have 14 street-level stops and two elevated stations, as well as an expanded park and ride at Lewis Farms, once complete.



Work continues on the two NAIT/Blatchford LRT stations on Wednesday, March 29, 2023.
Work continues on the two NAIT/Blatchford LRT stations on Wednesday, March 29, 2023. Photo by Greg Southam /Postmedia


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