LRT expansion takes people by surprise

Gorman: The very name conjures up images of, well, nothing inparticular, really … Suffice to say, I was surprised to find out thatEdmonton’s next LRT expansion, following the opening of Southgate andCentury Park LRT stations in 2010, will be northeast to Gorman Stationby 2012.

Gorman: The very name conjures up images of, well, nothing in particular, really … Suffice to say, I was surprised to find out that Edmonton’s next LRT expansion, following the opening of Southgate and Century Park LRT stations in 2010, will be northeast to Gorman Station by 2012.

Up until a few weeks ago, plans for northeast expansion remained vague at best. It was known the city had long-range plans of creating regional LRT, with an eventual northeast expansion possibly as far as Fort Saskatchewan, but there were no specific details or timelines. So when Gorman was announced as a “shovel ready” transit project, eligible for provincial funding, it took a number of people by surprise.

If you’re a resident of West Edmonton or Mill Woods, this probably led to a reaction that may have involved cursing and throwing things. If it makes you feel any better, know that with an extension to the very fringe it’s going to be harder and harder to justify continuing to ignore the rest of the city.

Not that I’m complaining about a new LRT station; anything that makes transit more accessible and convenient for more people is a good thing, particularly where potential exists for a high-density transit oriented development along the line, such as the case with Gorman.

And certainly expanding northeast along an already established rail right-of-way makes sense from a cost perspective and was likely why this relatively obscure northeast expansion was “shovel ready” before any other previously announced expansions.

So do other areas of the city need it more right now? Probably, but the unfortunate reality is that the city is so far behind it has to choose between keeping up with growth in one direction and even getting started in the others.

Thankfully for those in the northwest, according to ETS, the $800-million LRT line from Churchill to NAIT remains the top priority when it comes to LRT expansion. And transportation manager Bob Boutilier is on record as saying that he believes the city will still receive funding from the provincial Green Trip program for the NAIT line once detailed planning is finished later this year.

 
 
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