The unexpected closure of the 170 Street pedestrian overpass to West Edmonton Mall in 2018 forced nearby residents to adopt potentially treacherous alternate routes, and Roger Breault has been advocating for a replacement ever since.
A new and improved bridge is now expected to open in late 2022. On Friday, Breault, president of the Laurier House Lynnwood Residents and Families Council, honoured both Coun. Andrew Knack and David Ghermezian, president of Triple Five Group which owns West Edmonton Mall, with a certificate of appreciation for their work ensuring the bridge would be rebuilt.
“There was over 1,000 people that traveled cross that bridge … every day. And they need it,” Breault said. “To cross at 87 Avenue is unsafe. There are 10 lanes there and those turning lanes are dangerous.”
Ghermezian told the small crowd of seniors gathered outside CapitalCare Laurier House Lynnwood for the appreciation ceremony that the new bridge will be wider, and will accommodate wheelchair, bicycle and scooter traffic. It will also have a path from the bridge landing that extends directly to the doors of the mall.
“It’s a magnificent looking structure that’s going to do justice to this side of Edmonton and to the residents of the neighbourhood and to West Edmonton Mall,” Ghermezian said.
Knack said before he became a councillor, he used to own a business in West Edmonton Mall and would use the old bridge twice a day for six years.
“It was a pretty critical piece of infrastructure for me,” Knack said. “It was how I safely accessed my place of employment because as you all know, without that bridge, it’s not the most convenient way to get across 170 Street, it’s not the most safe feeling.”
Breault said he originally moved to the area because of the pedestrian overpass to the mall and so had many other people. He said the new bridge will be a big improvement.
“First of all, the grade is not going to be as steep,” Breault said. “There’s going to be a pathway from there to the mall. That’s going to be nice and safe. That’ll be much safer, much, much better.”
City council approved the budget for the estimated $9.5 million bridge on June 22. The city will pay $7 million while West Edmonton Mall will pay $2.5 million.