Now it's 30 of 45 concrete piers that need fixing on Valley Line Southeast LRT

TransEd CEO Ronald Joncas emphasized that it's safe to walk and drive beneath all sections of the elevated track.  (TransEd/YouTube - image credit)
TransEd CEO Ronald Joncas emphasized that it's safe to walk and drive beneath all sections of the elevated track. (TransEd/YouTube - image credit)

The wait for the Valley Line Southeast LRT to go into service continues as the CEO of TransEd announced Friday more piers will need be repaired than previously thought.

The $1.8 billion public-private partnership between TransEd and the City of Edmonton is nearly two years behind schedule from the original in-service date of December 2020.

In August, cracks were found in 18 of 45 concrete piers supporting elevated sections of track. About a month later, three more were added to that tally.

"Each pier is affected by forces in different ways and our engineer assessment has determined how many piers need to be repaired," Ronald Joncas said in a video updated posted Friday.

"Based on their current assessment, 30 elevated guideway piers need to be repaired."

Joncas said analysis the design of the internal steel reinforcement within the piers was inadequate, resulting in cracks.

He noted that although TransEd had previously thought thermal expansion was to blame, thermal forces were not greater than had been anticipated in the design.

Joncas said the additional nine piers now found to have cracks will require minor repairs.

The work to repair the 30 piers with cracks will vary depending on the location and height of the individual piers. Joncas mentioned three repair methods in his video.

Some piers will require small amounts of rebar drilled and anchored into the existing concrete. Rebar is the steel reinforcement used inside the piers.

"Other piers would be repaired by having a new concrete diaphragm, basically a concrete partial infill," Joncas said. "This diaphragm will provide a further structural support."

The third type of repair will involve an external support system made of steel wrapped around the piers to brace them.

"Think of it as a support belt around the midsection of the piers," Joncas said.

Trains are still being tested along sections of the line, Joncas said. He emphasized that it's safe to walk and drive beneath all sections of the elevated track.

In a statement posted to Twitter on Friday afternoon, Mayor Amarjeet Sohi said the delays are unacceptable and TransEd's responsibility.

"I must stress that because this project is operating on a fixed-price contract, all of the costs of the delays are borne by TransEd," Sohi said.

"Taxpayers will not bear any of the costs of delays or for further work being done to fix these issues."

Joncas acknowledged the public's disappointment in the project delay.

"We are doing everything we can to repair the pier safely and as quickly as possible," he said.

A future update will be provided on next steps in the repair process and project timelines, Joncas said.