Concrete Cracks Delay Edmonton LRT Extension

Written by John Thompson, Canadian Contributing Editor
image description

Edmonton Transit Valley Line

The much-delayed Edmonton Southeast Valley LRT Line project in Edmonton, Alberta has suffered a major construction delay that will likely delay its public opening to an indefinite date in 2023, well past the most recent tentative date of July 29, 2022.

City of Edmonton inspectors recently discovered cracks in 18 of the 45 concrete piers that support elevated sections of the line. Engineers for TransEd Partners—Fengate Capital Management, Bechtel (design and construction), Ellis-Don, Alstom (originally Bombardier—low-floor Flexity LRVs, signaling, communications, power supply and distribution, catenary and related depot equipment), Transdev, ARUP, IBI Group—the engineering and construction consortium building the line, are striving to identify the cause of the cracks, and the corrective measures that will be needed. One theory advanced is that reinforcing steel in the piers has expanded and contracted due to temperature fluctuations, causing the cracks. This is being investigated, according to TransEd CEO Ronald Joncas.

The eight-mile (13-km) Valley Line, which essentially is Edmonton’s second major LRT, is being built under a P3 between the City of Edmonton and TransEd. This is the fourth, and most serious, delay in the line’s opening. TransEd will cover the delay’s costs. Construction of the 11-station line, which begin in 2016, was approved for C$1.8 billion.

Valley Line LRVs testing along 66 Street in March 2021. Kevin Yelich/Wikimedia Commons

Operation of test trains over the affected sections has been halted; however it continues over other parts of the route, which is primarily on the surface.  It will be the city’s first low-floor LRT operation. 

Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi expressed disappointment in TransEd’s performance on the project, saying that the city would hold the consortium accountable, and that city staff would be reviewing the feasibility of Edmonton’s involvement with P3 projects. The process was originally approved for the Valley Line Southeast project to make it eligible for federal grants. 

The West Edmonton portion of the Valley Line is presently in the early stages of construction; however, it is chiefly being built at ground level. 

Edmonton opened its first LRT line in 1978; it has been extended several times since then.

Tags: , ,