Valley Line LRT delayed until 2022 as train testing begins on Tawatinâ Bridge

TransEd began train testing an expanded area of the Valley Line Southeast LRT on Tuesday, marking the first time a train crossed the North Saskatchewan River on Tawatinâ Bridge. 

TransEd’s communications manager called it a major milestone achievement which will kick off testing of the line in downtown Edmonton and the new Quarters Tunnel.

Tuesday morning, workers walked alongside the train, checking clearances and connections. 

The train will be driven back and forth all day at faster speeds as part of the testing. 

BRIDGE OPENING DELAYED

TransEd said Tuesday the 13-kilometre Valley Line Southeast LRT, of which Tawatinâ Bridge is a part, was about 95 per cent built. 

Delays caused by the pandemic mean the line won’t open to commuters until early 2022. It was originally supposed to be operating by December 2020. 

“The biggest delay that we’ve seen right now has been the impacts of COVID. That combined with just the work to get the testing done and doing that carefully without taking any shortcuts,” TransEd’s Dallas Lindskoog told media, pointing to supply backlogs and positive cases amongst workers. 

PEDESTRIAN BRIDGE TO OPEN NOVEMBER 

The 260-metre bridge connecting the Cloverdale and Riverdale communities will feature two LRT tracks and a shared-use path for pedestrians and cyclists below the bridge deck. 

That path, which will connect users to existing river valley trails, is expected to open by November. 

As of the spring, the deck was entirely built and the cable stays, as well as rail and overhead catenary system, were installed. 

Train testing and energization has already happened south of the river. 

When completed, Tawatinâ Bridge is expected to carry more than 100,000 commuters each day. 

Tawatinâ means “valley” in Cree. 

Local artists have been commissioned by the city to paint murals celebrating the region’s history for the underside of the bridge. 

With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Jeremy Thompson