Phase 1 of city of Edmonton’s Metro Line Northwest LRT extension completed under budget and a year ahead of schedule

Jan. 17, 2024
Phase 1 construction was originally anticipated to be complete in 2025 but was completed in December 2023, with the new NAIT/Blatchford Market LRT station opening for passenger service Jan. 20.

Phase 1 of the city of Edmonton’s Metro Line Northwest Light-Rail Transit (LRT) extension has been completed on budget and more than a year ahead of schedule, as on Jan. 20, the new NAIT/Blatchford Market LRT station will open for passenger service and the temporary NAIT LRT station will close.  

Phase 1 construction was originally anticipated to be complete in 2025 but was completed in December 2023.  

“Completing Phase 1 of the Metro Line Northwest LRT extension ahead of schedule is a significant infrastructure milestone to serve our growing needs,” said City of Edmonton Mayor Amarjeet Sohi. “This extension further strengthens our LRT network and provides the north side of Edmonton with greater access to transit service.” 

The city says the NAIT/Blatchford Market LRT station will serve as a critical mass-transit connection into the city’s downtown core for the 30,000 future Edmontonians living in Blatchford, the adjacent Westwood community and the growing student population at NAIT.  

The new NAIT/Blatchford Market LRT station is approximately 300 meters (0.19 miles) west of the temporary NAIT station and has a longer platform to accommodate ridership growth. The added service capacity provides the option of using up to five-car trains on the Metro Line to better serve students and residents travelling to and from the area. Service frequency and bus service to the new station will remain unchanged compared to service to the temporary NAIT station. Salvaging of materials and other demolition activities will commence at the temporary NAIT station in the coming weeks.  

“It is with great pleasure to see the first phase of the Edmonton Metro Line LRT Expansion completed, and with it, the official opening of the new, permanent NAIT/Blatchford Market station,” said Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Official Languages and Member of Parliament for Edmonton Center Randy Boissonnault. “The larger station will benefit students of the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology, future residents of the Blatchford neighborhood and bring this LRT network one step closer to connecting communities for Edmontonians.” 

“Alberta’s government remains committed to supporting transit in this province. We are pleased to see this significant step forward in the Metro Line Northwest LRT with the opening of the NAIT/Blatchford Market LRT station ahead of schedule and on budget,” said Devin Dreeshen, Calgary, Alberta’s minister of transportation and economic corridors. 

At each stage of the project, the Metro Line Northwest extension applied an urban LRT design philosophy, focusing on sustainability and seamless integration of LRT with the adjacent land, including Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED). 

The design features fewer barriers and focuses on improved access to LRT infrastructure for all transit users. A shared-use path runs along the full length of the extension and connects to shared-use paths at 118 Ave. and 123 Ave., providing safer access to the city’s active transportation network to the east along 106 St. The NAIT/Blatchford Market station is equipped with solar panels to supply up to two-thirds of the station’s electricity needs, contributing to the city’s green building initiatives. 

The newly built Blatchford Gate LRT station is located further north along the alignment. It will open for service when the criteria for the city’s Transit Service Standards—which recommend how and when to add more service—is met.   

The total budget for Metro Line Phase 1 is approximately C$291 million (US$215 million). The construction is funded with C$103 million (US$76 million) from the government of Canada through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program, C$107 million (US$79.1 million) from the government of Alberta and C$58 million (US$42.9 million) from the city of Edmonton. The planning and design phases were previously completed with contributions by all three levels of government. 

The city of Edmonton notes LRT projects such as the Metro Line extension are critical, as the city gradually shifts Edmonton’s mobility network to provide a variety of more sustainable travel options as Edmonton grows into a city of 2 million people.