New transportation honcho says several routes being planned

It’s not a question of if, but a question of when, says the city’s new transportation manager on the prospect of expanding the LRT to Canada’s largest shopping centre.


Extending the public rail system to West Edmonton Mall doesn’t end there, however, as the city also has plans to build new routes to St. Albert, Mill Woods and Sherwood Park, says Bob Boutilier, who was hired from Toronto to become the city’s new transportation boss.


“This is all on the drawing board so all of this has to get going,” he told Metro.


Boutilier admitted, however, that plans to extend the system west to the mall would be more challenging than plans to extend services further in the northeast because engineers have to contend with crossing the North Saskatchewan River.


The city is looking into two possible routes, he says, that could see trains follow 87 Ave. from downtown to the mall. Other routes on the drawing board include a line extended north to the NAIT main campus.

The entire plan will cost billions of dollars, but could be supported by the federal government, which has recently announced an interest in light rail transit.

The renewed focus on LRT scraps plans on a proposed rapid bus system that angered Glenora residents with its dedicated bus-only lane that would have required a row of houses to be bulldozed.

“This was basically a stop-gap measure and all it did was take money from the main event, and that was the LRT,” said Bill Eadie, a Glenora Community League member who opposed the bus route.

“Putting money into the LRT is the right thing to do. That’s better planning, in my view.”