Whoopee! Last week, the city of Edmonton announced it was preparing to take a giant leap forward as a city.
You may not be able to immediately identify what I’m talking about if you don’t believe a greatly expanded rapid transit system is critical to Edmonton’s future and a key element in creating a sustainable and much more livable city.
The announcement of the two proposed routes, one from Millwoods in the south to the downtown, and the other from Lewis Estates in the west to the downtown, is very good news indeed.
The challenge now will be for the city to follow through on this vision for rapid transit in spite of those who want to challenge it — and challenge it they will.
There’s no doubt some citizens and businesses will be inconvenienced by the proposed routes.
In the past, strident voices of opposition have often convinced our civic leaders to abandon some very good plans for the city. One can only hope that doesn’t happen this time and the benefit to the many overrides the objections of the few.
For purely selfish reasons, I would like the south LRT line to go down 75 Street rather than Connors Road. A route on 75 would allow me to walk a short distance to an LRT stop.
If that were the case, I would probably never drive my car into the downtown again. It would be so much easier to jump on and off the LRT. No traffic jams, no icy roads in the winter, no looking for a parking space.
My confessed selfishness aside, I am assuming this kind of thinking will also affect the behaviour of the thousands of commuters who live along the proposed route. With an LRT in place, anyone who drives on 75 Street or along Connors Road on the way to work in the downtown would have to think long and hard about the benefits of doing so.
Watching the LRT glide by as they wait for the next advance green or a break in the traffic in the Bonnie Doon traffic circle would be a powerful inducement to change.
The more we do to reduce this city’s love affair with cars the better. But we are not going to be able to do that without offering motorists a reasonable alternative. These two LRT lines are just the ticket.