Downtown commuters frustrated with Valley Line LRT construction

Anne Harnesk loves to read on her bus ride from her work in downtown Edmonton to Sherwood Park.

Now, she says she has more time to read.

On Monday, construction crews cordoned off 100th Street between 102nd Avenue and 102A Avenue, so construction  can start on the Valley Line LRT.

Some commuters say even though the road closure on 100th Street is relatively small in size, it has substantially impacted vehicle and pedestrian traffic downtown.

The increased traffic is inconvenient, Harnesk said.

On a regular work day, Harnesk drives into Sherwood Park from Ardrossan before catching a bus downtown.

Anne Harnesk plans to get some extra reading in while her bus sits in downtown traffic. (Travis McEwan/CBC Edmonton )

She said the latest blockade has added about 15 minutes to her already one-hour commute.

Harnesk isn’t alone.

Mowen Kambo works at The Sutton Place Hotel downtown, studies at NAIT and lives near the Century Park LRT station. In short, he moves around the city a lot.

Kambo said downtown construction has made his drive to work challenging.

“There’s a lot of people working in the downtown location, living in a different area, so it’s very tough for now,” Kambo said. “It’s very hard to drive downtown, especially right now because of this traffic.”

The Edmontonian said his coworkers who have to take multiple buses to get to the downtown hotel are struggling with what they say is a recent increase in traffic.

Regardless, Kambo believes the construction will be worth it once the city completes the LRT expansion.

Mowen Kambo often commutes from Edmonton’s southside to downtown for work. (Travis McEwan/CBC Edmonton)

David Vanderheide runs a delivery business and often drives downtown. He echoed Kambo’s sentiment.

“I like the development of downtown, but the construction needs to be designed better for pedestrians and drivers, especially parking for commercial vehicles,” Vanderheide said.

The construction has made it difficult for Vanderheide and his employees to manoeuvre their way through Edmonton’s core.

I like the development of downtown, but the construction needs to be designed better for pedestrians and drivers, especially parking for commercial vehicles– David Vanderheide

Vanderheide allocates a 15-minute window for most deliveries, but now, they’re taking more time because parking is sparse, he said.

“I’ve had to park three blocks away to make a delivery … so it’s a little difficult.”

Still, most Edmontonians are trying to take the additional traffic in stride.

For Harnesk, a long bus ride means more time away from her daily grind.

Edmontonians believe traffic in downtown has gotten worse following the 100th Street closure.

“It’s time to de-stress,” Harnesk said.

Plus, when Harnesk hops on the bus, she’s not the one driving.

“I don’t have to worry about the traffic,” Harnesk said with a laugh.

Ongoing work

The latest traffic disturbance is part of a series of temporary intersection closures planned for this summer.

The 100th Street closure will last about six weeks. Once it’s re-opened, the intersection on 97th Street and 102nd Avenue will close for construction, according to the city. 

The 13-kilometre Valley Line LRT will run from Mill Woods to downtown.

It was scheduled to open at the end of 2020 but the construction work is behind schedule.

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