Groat Road Bridge to open Monday as Edmonton summer construction season wraps up

All four lanes on the newly reconstructed Groat Road Bridge are scheduled to be open to traffic on Monday morning.

The City of Edmonton said Thursday morning that the project is opening on time and on budget.

The bridge, as well as a four-metre shared-use path, will open “as soon as Sunday afternoon” and be ready for commuters Monday morning.

“We know that this project has caused many delays for commuters over the past few years,” said Jason Meliefste, acting deputy city manager of Integrated Infrastructure Services.

“We understand that bridge projects bring about an inherent risk and are often very complicated. Our experience of previous bridge projects in this city has been mixed, admittedly.”

Read more: Groat Road to undergo major three-year renovation

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While all four lanes will open Monday, there are still some finishing touches to be done, including the removal of river berms and some site cleanup.

Sam El Mohtar, director of Transportation Infrastructure Delivery, said some overnight and off-peak closures will be required as crews get through the final stages of construction, including as soon as this weekend.

The Groat Road Bridge will be closed to all traffic starting at 7 p.m. Friday. It is set to open “as soon as Sunday afternoon,” Mohtar said.

“We understand that the various bridge and roadway closures were at times a source of frustration for Edmontonians and we very much appreciate your patience as we worked to complete this project as safely and as efficiently as possible.”

Work on the bridge project began in 2018. Crews will remain on site through November and possibly into December to wrap up the project, according to the city.

Wrapping up 2020 construction season

Meliefste also provided an update on some other major construction projects underway in Edmonton.

Meliefste said 93 per cent of the city’s 280 capital projects are on budget and 81 per cent are on schedule. These projects created direct and indirect jobs for more than 10,000 people from the Edmonton area.

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“The sheer number of projects the city managed this construction season in all corners of the city provides a local boost to Edmonton’s economy,” he said.

Meliefste said the projects that are not on schedule range from smaller renewal projects in the river valley — such as trail alignment — to the Valley Line LRT southeast project, “which we all know is trending late.”

“I think they’ve made significant progress this last year,” he said of the contractor. “They certainly know that they’re converging on the completion date as set out on the project agreement, which has been set for December of this year. Obviously at this point we don’t think that that’s realistic.”

Meliefste said the city is not at the stage at this time of seeking compensation for the work being behind schedule because at this point, they’re not sure just now delayed the project will be.

“Certainly that will come into play at some point in the coming months or once we get closer to the end date, but at this point, we don’t have anything to share about it.”

He stressed that opening the line safely is the city’s main focus.

“Our first priority is being able to deliver something that’s safe, of sufficient quality, that meets the reliability and expectations of citizens. And we’re not interested at this point to think about taking potential shortcuts or anything like that that would compromise or jeopardize the end project,” Meliefste said.

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“The timeline is very important to us. I think it’s important to citizens. But I think most important is making sure that the money and investment being made in that piece of infrastructure is set up for the next 30-50 years as that infrastructure comes into service.”

Work on the Yellowhead Freeway conversion project saw a “significant milestone” this year, according to Meliefste, with work underway to widen a section of the roadway between 50 Street and the North Saskatchewan River.

“Construction proceeded so well that work scheduled for 2021, including work on Victoria Trail and the start of widening on the eastbound lanes near 50 Street, started early this year,” he said.

Read more: Traffic light removal marks 1st major step in Yellowhead Trail freeway conversion

Phase 1 of the Image Jasper Avenue project is also moving along on schedule, with work underway between 109 and 114 streets. Meliefste said the westbound lanes should reopen to traffic “in the coming week.”

Over the last few weeks, crews were able to get an early start on pregrading and earth work needed for the first stage of the Terwillegar Expressway project. Meliefste said the main road work is expected to start next spring and be finished by winter 2022.

Work on Terwillegar Drive underway at 40 Avenue in Edmonton Monday, Oct. 12, 2020.
Work on Terwillegar Drive underway at 40 Avenue in Edmonton Monday, Oct. 12, 2020. Wes Rosa, Global News

Construction on the Muttart Conservatory is also on schedule, Meliefste said, with the work expected to be complete by the end of the year. It’s hoped the attraction will reopen to people in late January or early February.

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