Sustainable Urban Integration – Connecting Edmonton to its Routes
Figure 1 - A preliminary vision of a Valley Line LRT stop.

Figure 1 – A preliminary vision of a Valley Line LRT stop.

Edmontonians have a lot to be proud of – from our tight-knit communities, to our exciting, year-round festivals or our 150 kilometers of tranquil river valley trails, there’s lots of reasons why so many of us choose to call Edmonton “Home”. We have a special history, and unique little corners of the city that we want to preserve.

Yet we’re growing at an unprecedented rate, and we know that we need to embrace the growth and change that’s happening all around us. It’s a delicate balance of protecting and cherishing all the things from our past that have made Edmonton what it is today, and creating a future city for the next generation.

When we asked Edmontonians how they envisioned the new Valley Line LRT, they replied that they wanted an LRT which was very much like the people that would be riding it – subtle and unassuming, not loud or obstructive – an integrated system that would enhance the communities which it serves, and connect riders to the people and places that they love.

We reached out to these communities in the very early planning stages, and worked together to brainstorm how the Valley Line project could be built and operated with the least amount of impact possible. They wanted designs for stops and station elements that organically fit with the character of the community, convenient access to nearby businesses and services, and a system that wouldn’t bring any additional noise to the area.

This feedback was used to establish a set of design guidelines and requirements called Sustainable Urban Integration, or SUI. These guidelines help fulfill the shared vision of a sustainable LRT system that fits both the needs of the communities it serves, while realizing the City of Edmonton’s vision for expansion.

Some elements of SUI include:

Safety: The Valley line will be open and above-ground, making activities around the line more visible and creating a safer environment for riders and surrounding communities.

The trains will move at neighbourhood speeds with the flow of traffic, which allows the LRT to fit and operate safely in pedestrian-focused communities. Pedestrian-friendly zones will be included in streets, crosswalks and intersections within 100 metres of the LRT stop platforms.

Integration: The Valley line will be completely different from the LRT that Edmonton is used to. It’s specifically designed to fit with the existing neighbourhood it serves. The stops along the new line are smaller and closer together, which provides better links to a greater number of destinations.

And because the train will run at community traffic speeds, warning bells, signal gates and flashing lights generally will not be needed. This ensures that the Valley Line won’t bring any additional noise or disruption to neighbourhoods.

Design: Community members had direct involvement in determining how the LRT would visually fit into their neighbourhood. They were able to weigh in on designs of certain elements such as railings, columns and paved surfaces that would reflect the distinct nature and character of each area along the alignment. This allows for the design of the LRT stops to flow from the vibrant, cosmopolitan Downtown, to the peaceful, natural River Valley area, to the quiet, suburban communities of Mill Woods.

Figure 2 – Community members were able to weigh in on design elements for stops and stations.

Figure 2 – Community members were able to weigh in on design elements for stops and stations.

Accessibility: The Valley Line stops are designed to make boarding the LRT easy and convenient. With the exception of one elevated station, all stops along the line are at street level, eliminating the need for any escalators or stairs. Riders can simply leave their house, walk to the nearest stop, step off the curb and board the train – similar to catching the bus. SUI doesn’t just address the needs of the people riding the train – it provides better transportation options for those who walk or cycle as well. SUI requires shared use pathways for pedestrians and cyclists to enjoy, and new connections to the existing bike lane network, allowing for cyclists to get to wherever they’re going – work or play – quickly and safely.

Sustainability: SUI ensures protection and conservation of our natural heritage systems such as the River Valley and Mill Creek Ravine, as well as the mature neighbourhoods along the Valley Line alignment. And while some vegetation along the line will need to be removed or relocated as part of the project, landscaping for the Valley Line will ultimately plant far more trees, greenery and shrubs than the project will remove. SUI also includes guidelines for the use of sustainable materials such as wood and stone to create a more natural environment for everyone to enjoy.

Figure 3 - SUI looks beyond building of tracks and trains to create neighbourhoods that are safe, attractive and connected.

Figure 3 – SUI looks beyond building of tracks and trains to create neighbourhoods that are safe, attractive and connected.

We’re Edmontonians, and we love our home. As we build for the future, we will always embrace our city’s special qualities. The Valley line project is an exciting opportunity to show how LRT expansion isn’t just about building a track, or getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible. It’s about developing a seamless transit experience that brings people to where they live, work and interact, creating attractive, safe and vibrant communities and providing opportunities for the City to grow and thrive in the years to come.

For more information about the Valley Line LRT, please visit www.edmonton.ca/valleyline .

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About the Author
Jennifer Villeneuve
Jennifer Villeneuve is a communications coordinator with the LRT Design and Construction Branch.
1 Comment
  1. Larry carlson
    1 year ago

    Just reading a bit on the project and am a bit concerned with the river and the dangers of flooding and ice jams etc. . I know you haven’t seen too much damage in previous years however with some of the questionable enviromental practices in the province I would only hope some thought has gone into this very concerning matter.

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