Bechtel Build 100 Blog | Edmonton Light Rail Transit: Building More Than Rail
by Tam Nguyen, Global Head of Sustainability
Bechtel is building Edmonton’s Valley Line light-rail transit extension, the largest infrastructure project undertaken by Alberta’s capital city in Canada. It will expand the commuter-rail system by eight miles (13 kilometers), linking the urban center to distant suburbs across the Saskatchewan River. Edmonton has committed to reducing its carbon footprint by 111,000 tons per year by purchasing renewable energy, which will provide electricity from cleaner sources to power the trains.
The project is expected to create about 650 local jobs over its life. This is in addition to the hundreds of jobs that local procurement opportunities will generate. Nearly 90 percent of project orders and subcontracts have been awarded to companies in Alberta and elsewhere in Canada.
SAVING ENERGY BUILDING THE LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT EXTENSION
While the system is designed to slash energy use from the trains by as much as 30 percent using a technology that stores and reuses energy from braking, it will also save on heating, cooling, and lighting its stations. The extension’s Davies Station and Churchill Connector will use passive temperature control to heat and cool the stations by controlling sunlight and shade. The maintenance facility was designed to achieve the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design’s Silver certification. The third-party rating system assures the facility is built to save energy and water, reduce waste, and create a healthier indoor environment for workers.
PROTECTING THE RIVER VALLEY
The Saskatchewan River that cuts through the middle of the city is fundamental to Edmonton’s urban identity. It not only provides the city’s drinking water, its steep, 18,000-acre valley contains more than 20 parks. Together with its partners, Bechtel removed trees only outside the bird-nesting season and committed to planting about 17,000 more plants. To preserve the native ecosystem, the project is sourcing the replacement plants from within 200 kilometers (124 miles) and collecting seeds from 50 native species to replant as work is completed.
“The North Saskatchewan River Valley is what most defines the city. It’s the place where everyone goes to play, where people go to commune. It’s a big symbol of the community. That translates into wanting to be a good steward of the environment when you’re working in the river valley.” -- Larry Melton, Project Manager, Edmonton Light Rail
REDUCE, REUSE, & RECYCLE IN EDMONTON
To extend the transit line across the river, Bechtel is removing an existing footbridge and building a new one, as well as digging 700 meters of tunnel from downtown Edmonton to the riverbank. During the demolition of the Cloverdale Footbridge over the Saskatchewan River, the company recycled 160 metric tons of steel. Bechtel also recycled 6,600 tons of concrete produced from the roadwork, building demolition, and removal of the footbridge. This cuts both waste and removal expenses—saving millions of dollars—and provides material for constructing foundations and roadbeds. These efforts, among others, helped divert about 98 percent of the project’s waste away from landfills. Bechtel and other TransEd Partners are investors in the project along with the city of Edmonton. The partners are responsible for operating and maintaining the system for 30 years in addition to designing and building the project. All partners are focused on long-term value and operational efficiency with sustainability as a key driver, including reducing energy use, water consumption, and waste generation.
"Given the unique challenge of building in urban settings while protecting communities and the environment, sustainability is absolutely central in public infrastructure development." -- Keith Hennessey, Principal Vice President and Head of Public-Private Partnerships
PARTNERING FOR LONG-TERM SUSTAINABILITY
Bechtel and other TransEd Partners are investors in the project along with the city of Edmonton. The partners are responsible for operating and maintaining the system for 30 years in addition to designing and building the project. All partners are focused on long-term value and operational efficiency with sustainability as a key driver, including reducing energy use, water consumption, and waste generation.