A new light rapid transit line in Edmonton serving the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT) is causing serious traffic delays, with motorists having to wait 10 or more minutes at rush hours to cross the line at intersections.
The situation is so bad that at one spot city council is considering moving one of the stations. On October 8 the city transportation committee is due to consider a report on relocating the station on 106th Street at NAIT to the south side of Princess Elizabeth Avenue. It would mean having to buy land and adjust the tracks. And even this is only a temporary solution, amounting to “throwaway capital costs” as one report put it. That’s because the NAIT station is temporary and due to be replaced in 10 years by a permanent station on the Blatchford Lands nearby.
Incredibly, concerns about possible traffic snarls resulting from the new LRT surfaced only a few weeks before the line opened on September 16. The CBC reported on September 2 that Mayor Don Iveson and other councillors had been surprised to suddenly hear that the LRT would cause severe traffic disruptions. “If we’d known that it was going to be this, council clear would have made different planning decisions,” Iveson reportedly said.
Since the line opened the city’s director of traffic engineering, Craig Walbaum, told the media that they were “quite pleased with how well the Metro Line opening has gone.”
However, CBC reports, city staff who monitored the traffic by driving or video surveillance cameras have looked at six intersections and found traffic delays of five minutes and even 10 minutes at peak times. At the intersection of 11th Avenue and Princess Elizabeth Avenue drivers had to wait for the lights to change three times before being able to go through.
The completion of the new Metro line, originally known as the North Light Rapid Transit project, was delayed by over a year. There remain problems with the signalling system which is making trains run less regularly than planned. The line consists of three stations on 3 kilometres of new surface track, then goes underground at Churchill Station downtown to join the existing Capital line.