South LRT in the Corner of the Eye

Nobody expects to see this train.

LRT on 111th Street travels the median of the roadway

LRT on 111th Street travels the median of the roadway

Sure, there’s been construction in the middle of 111th Street in south Edmonton for years, wreaking all kinds of traffic havoc for motorists and pedestrians alike. With a project of this magnitude, with perpetual traffic detours and delays, everybody knew something big was coming. But now that it’s here, the South LRT is catching people by surprise.

You see it in drivers’ faces as the train cruises down the roadway median, zipping between vehicles on 111th Street. Drivers do a double-take, eyes wide, when they see a train fly past at 70 km/h, where no train used to be.

Right now it’s just commissioning, which is the comprehensive testing process for new LRT. The trains, the electrical systems, the signalization… everything’s got to be running smoothly, perfectly, before the South LRT can safely open to public service on April 25th, 2010.

We’re getting there. New commissioning tests are completed every day. Which means from now on, trains are moving on the South LRT tracks, in perpetuity. Anyone crossing 111th Street needs to know that trains are there.

Things have changed at 111th Street intersections between 23rd Avenue and 61st Avenue. The intersections are wider; new traffic signs, signals and gates are operational; tracks are running through the middle, and trains are starting to move on those tracks. Drivers and pedestrians are beginning to interact with trains.

With all the changes, commissioning wrapping up and trains starting to roll, the main question for the City is how to keep South LRT intersections safe. Specifically, what can the City do to prevent four types of collisions: train/car, train/pedestrian, car/car, and car/pedestrian?

South LRT intersections include several safety features

South LRT intersections include several safety features

Designing and building the intersections to be as safe as possible is one answer. Spreading the word about traffic safety is another. But no solution is foolproof, in part because every solution is pinned to the underlying fact that no government can control all the actions of its citizens.

When it comes to traffic, people break the law. If they did not – if every person who ever came into contact with the South LRT always obeyed every traffic bylaw to 100 percent accuracy – there would almost never be any collisions. But people make mistakes. The best their government can do is to try to minimize the frequency and consequence of those mistakes.

Safety features at each South LRT intersection help to achieve this goal. So does the City’s TraXSafe program that teaches how to stay safe around LRT. Public safety is a shared responsibility, though, so a return to defensive driving and safety fundamentals is the best measure any citizen can take.

It will take time for people to grow accustomed to the changes at South LRT intersections. So take the time. Be patient. Go slow. Everyone will get where they need to go, safely, if we all take a little extra time to watch out for each other.

For more information visit the City’s TraXSafe program at www.edmonton.ca/traxsafe

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About the Author
Graeme McElheran
Graeme McElheran is the Communications Manager for Transportation Services, Financial Services & Utilities.
6 Comments
  1. Tom S
    8 years ago

    I understand the safety concerns given this new line travels down the middle of 111th. However, I think it is fairly safe and due diligence has been done. The entire line is physically separated from the road and traffic. Intersections are well signed. There are crossing arms and lights and bells.

    My concern will be with the new low-floor LRT that we are sending west and southeast. These trains will run in the middle of the road with no physical separation from traffic. There will be no gate-arms, only traffic lights to give right-of-way to the train. This means that there could be train-car collisions on a regular basis, as is happening on similar systems in the States. This means trains could get caught in traffic jams or be impeded by a car accident where the car is sent onto the tracks. Icy roads in winter could send a car into the path of the train. The trains may even have to travel slower than the cars for safety. I think this is a terrible idea.

  2. Social comments and analytics for this post…

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  3. Sean F.
    8 years ago

    I agree with Tom and he did not even address the problems low-floor trains have in bad weather. Low-floor trains are a terrible idea for Edmonton.

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