(Editor’s Note: This story has been corrected for errors. See footnote.)
Breathe easy: Downtown’s treasured summer festivals, such as Taste of Edmonton and Cariwest, won’t be displaced from Churchill Square by Valley Line LRT construction until next year, when major construction on the line begins in the core.
After the Mill Woods-Downtown line is finally completed, in 2020, expect to feel a touch of nostalgia. Rather than the underground stations Downtowners have grown accustomed to, the new line will operate at-grade, alongside traffic with platform access from the sidewalks, like an old-fashioned streetcar.
But don’t expect a quaint and boxy car with a uniformed conductor ringing his bell, either. The new line’s primary contractor, Bombardier, which has developed similar light rail systems throughout Europe, promises spacious trains with low floors, sleek bodies and easy access. This change, simple to many, radical to others, isn’t just less costly—it helps animate the streets with people coming and going.
The line will run alongside a single eastbound lane of 102 Ave. traffic and newly developed bike lanes, with stops (not stations) at Churchill Square and 102 St.
But until then, it’s business as usual in Churchill Square this summer: food trucks, festivals, basketball games and relaxing in the sun, free of noisy construction.
(Corrections: An earlier version of this story stated that major construction around Churchill square was to begin in 2016, not 2017; that the line wouldn’t break ground until 2018, when in fact it broke ground in April 2016; and that construction was delayed. The Yards sincerely regrets the errors.)