Edmonton’s Valley Line Southeast LRT delayed again after inspectors discover cracks in piers

Edmonton’s $1.8 billion Valley Line Southeast LRT will not open by the end of the summer as previously planned due to the discovery of cracks in concrete piers, the consortium of companies building the project announced Wednesday. 

Ronald Joncas, CEO of TransEd, said inspectors noticed cracks on July 16 and immediately told engineers. 

“We have recently discovered cracks on some of the concrete piers that support the elevated tracks,” Joncas told media at a news conference.

Joncas said of the 46 piers along the route, 18 piers may require repair. 

The cracks are due to thermal expansion issues that are related to the weather, he said. 

Crews have put up scaffolding around the piers and are undertaking strengthening measures, he said. 

Engineering teams are assessing all of the piers to try and better understand the root cause, he said. 

Joncas said he is disappointed with the latest issue in a project that’s encountered many problems.

Last October, the company announced that the project was delayed because of a longer-than-expected testing process for the new trains. COVID-19 also led to workforce shortages along with supply chain issues for some construction supplies.

In 2018, crews hit a concrete mass nine metres below the surface of the North Saskatchewan River during the Tawatinâ Bridge construction. 

He would not say how long the new measures will take and when the line might open. 

“We are not in a position to give a date, because we don’t know exactly what needs to be done,” he said. 

He said the company will have a better understanding of timelines in two weeks. 

TransEd is an international consortium made up of Bechtel, EllisDon, Bombardier and Fengate Capital Management Ltd.

Joncas said there is no safety risk to the public.

Crews will continue to finish the final testing work where possible. 

“All inspections and tests will be completed and you will continue to see trains driving on the street-level track,” he said. 

Plagued by delays

The new delay means the line is more than two years behind the original opening date of winter 2020. 

“This project has encountered unprecedented challenges,” Joncas said. 

TransEd has been testing the line since last summer, when it started running Bombardier light rail vehicles on the tracks at the Strathearn LRT stop on 95th Avenue.

It ramped up signal testing this spring at intersections from Mill Woods to downtown. 

Construction on the public-private partnership started in 2016.

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