After years of construction delays, LRT trains are finally rolling on Edmonton's Valley Line Southeast, as the city transit project reaches the testing and commissioning phase.
Two Bombardier light rail vehicles are now on the tracks at the Strathearn LRT stop on 95th Avenue between 87th Street and 89th Street.
This week's arrival of the cars marks an important step forward for the $1.8-billion system, contractor TransEd said in a news release.
The train is now undergoing a series of tests under "a broad range of scenarios" to ensure safety systems are working on the 11-stop line, TransEd said.
The tests are being conducted on the rail line from the Strathearn stop, along Connors Road, to the Muttart stop. Tests will be done intermittently over a period of up to 14 days.
"Residents will be able to view the contemporary look of these trains and witness how the low-floor system moves and integrates with the environment," TransEd spokesperson Dallas Lindskoog said in a statement.
"It's an important step forward in the project's progress and we hope the community is excited for the Valley Line and the quality service and added value it will provide to all residents."
Most train testing to date has occurred in the Mill Woods area at the south end of the line.
"This is an important occasion as it represents the first time that Strathearn, Avonmore, Bonnie Doon and neighbouring residents will have the opportunity to observe the Valley Line Southeast trains in their community," Lindskoog said.
"It is exciting to see after years of construction in the area."
The 13-kilometre route, stretching from downtown to Mill Woods, has been under construction since the spring of 2016.
The $1.8-billion public-private partnership project with TransEd is now scheduled to open by the end of the year, at least one year later than the consortium had anticipated.
The route is the first leg of the Valley Line LRT, a 27-kilometre line that will operate between Mill Woods and Lewis Farms in west Edmonton.
The southeast leg was initially supposed to be operational last December but construction has faced a series of delays.
The biggest hurdle came in the spring of 2018 when crews discovered a car-sized concrete slab nine metres below the surface of the North Saskatchewan River.
Extricating the mysterious hunk of concrete delayed work on the Tawatinâ Bridge, a crucial structure for the Valley Line.
Riders can expect a 30-minute commute between Mill Woods and downtown on the new line, which will feature:
11 street-level stops.
An elevated station with a 1,300-spot park and ride facility and a full transit centre located in the Wagner Industrial area.
A short tunnel from the north face of the river valley through to the Quarters redevelopment.
An interchange point at Churchill Square to access the existing Metro and Capital LRT lines.
TransEd officials are expected to provide more details on the project's progress during a news conference at the Strathearn stop later Tuesday morning.