Rant – Poor City Planning with the NAIT LRT
This is how I think the NAIT LRT should have been built. Red represents underground, and blue is at the surface, and circles are stops. 111 Avenue will have an underpass similar to the 118 Avenue at Coliseum because 111 Avenue is a busy road.
If there was to be an at-grade crossing, it should be where Kingsway Avenue turns into 118 Avenue since there is less traffic in that area, but definitely not 111 Avenue. Yellow lines are underground paths connecting to buildings. Making Kingsway accessible from both south and north of it will help make peak hours less crowded because Kingsway Mall traffic would be spread between two stops rather than one.
Underground tunnels would also make it very nice when it’s really cold outside, and since you don’t have to wait for any pedestrian signals, you can walk to Kingsway much faster than if you were to walk from the surface. For example, if you work downtown and live in Castle Downs, you could get off at the Royal Alex stop and go to Kingsway via that stop, stroll though the mall, then walk to the NAIT station out the other end of the mall, and hop on the train to Castle Downs (once they extend it that far).
Even better would be if there was a network of underground tunnels that connected all the way to the ones downtown, where you could walk from downtown to NAIT without ever stepping out in the cold.
The reason why it veers west is because there is an 11 block long field that is a perfect spot for the LRT where it wouldn’t be as invasive. I think that field is perhaps a navigation aid for pilots, but if you look at it on Street View, you will see right away why it’s such a great spot for the LRT. It’s between 120 Street and 121 Street and goes all the way from 107 Avenue to 118 Avenue and it connects with the former airport. Add some trees, bike paths, and a mural with vines on it behind that residential back alley to beautify the area and reduce noise pollution for the people that live there, and voila!
Also, slight veer to the west would make it easier for people who live in Westmount, since it would come pretty close to Westmount, and thus cover more ground.
Edmonton is a sprawly city and has a lot of empty spaces where the LRT can go through. There is no need for it to choke off major roads. The NAIT line crosses an intersection of not two, but THREE major roads (111 Avenue, Kingsway Avenue, and 106 Street intersection) and it then crosses 106 Street and then Princess Elizabeth Avenue. That’s 4 at-grade crossing of major roads in a 5 block space. That is just obscene. That’s just about the worst thing they could have done for traffic. It’s almost like they made it on purpose to be as poorly designed as possible.
The dilemma with surface vs. underground trains is that underground is more expensive to build. However, some areas are just too dense for a surface LRT to be practical. They had the sense to build underground downtown back in the 70s, and they should have the sense to realize that the Kingsway area is too dense not to build underground.
For surface LRT, empty spaces in the city should be taken advantage of as a strategic location to build it on the surface which is less expensive, and it should be strategically located to be not in the way of things. The Clareview line is a great example of this, as it goes through a hidden away kind of area, and all it’s crossings with major roads have overpasses or underpasses, so the Clareview line is not intrusive.
Not only does it prevent traffic problems, but I just think that having trains in the middle of the street is just obnoxious and feels intrusive and doesn’t look right. It’s better for it to go through more hidden or empty areas, and since Edmonton is a very sprawly city, there is LOTS of empty space in the city that can be used strategically as a non-intrusive location for surface LRT.
When they are zoning in the new neighborhood that used to be the airport, as well as Griesbach, they should make space for the LRT. The western areas of Griesbach near Castle Downs Road aren’t fully built up yet, and that should be taken advantage of to allow the LRT to go through beside Castle Downs Road, rather than through it, and that will make the future LRT line way more functional.
Sorry if this was long, I am a huge fan of SimCity4 so I know a bit about city planning :p If you make too many at-grade train crossings in SimCity 4, your Sims will get pissed off about the traffic and the increased traffic will cause smog which will heighten your healthcare costs because you need more medical facilities.
I think city employees should try playing SimCity 4 to at least learn the basics of how to plan a city well.
(Submitted on January 5th at 9:15pm)