Councillors push for express bus bridge for north Edmonton
Councillors Dave Loken and Bev Esslinger say it's about time LRT is expanded into the northwest, as riders still experience long travel times to downtown
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Two city councillors are pushing the city to quickly build a new transit bridge in the north end, as they say residents continue to experience long rides and lots of bus transfers when traveling to downtown.
Both Couns. Dave Loken and Bev Esslinger put forward a notice of motion at city council Tuesday that would get staff to include a bus-only bridge as part of plans for the northwest LRT extension.
Esslinger explained the bridge, which would go over Yellowhead Trail by connecting residents in Castle Downs to Blatchford, would be dedicated to express buses only, but also be LRT-ready — meaning it would be big enough to handle a train once the network expands.
“We’re re-doing the Yellowhead, so let’s make this a conversation,” she said. “We want to create that habit of using transit to get downtown.”
City planners have earmarked the bridge costing anywhere from $100 million to $200 million to build. There are no timelines for when it will be built, but both councillors would like it complete as soon as possible.
“It would cut the commute in half from Castle Downs to the downtown,” said Loken, citing stats he said he received from transit officials.
He recently raised concerns that the north extension of the LRT system was becoming less of a priority.
“The south side has had its share of major LRT projects and it’s time for us to get our share,” he said.
According to the city, the current priority for LRT expansion is the Valley Line. Up next is expanding the Metro Line into Blatchford. The master plan for that route is to see LRT reach the outskirts of St. Albert.
City council will debate Esslinger and Loken’s motion in two weeks. If it goes forward, both councillors are hoping planners can return in March with the revamped bus-only bridge plan.