City planning 40 years in advance.
Many of us are used to Government’s that don’t plan for the future. In many cases if it goes past the next election, the attitude is, not worth the effort of the current politician. So I just have to share this, as it sets the gold standard for municipal planning in my humble opinion.
In 1974 Edmonton, Alberta, Canada started building a Light Rail Transit system. The city had 445,000 residents when they started building the LRT as it is known. They are building the start of a new line to connect to NAIT (Northern Alberta Institute of Technology to the downtown. Also serving Grant MacEwan University, 2 High Schools, the Royal Alexandra Hospital, and a major shopping center, as well as residents and other businesses. The 2 Universities and the Technical Institute will all be connected with single train service, when the expansion opens. Watch the video I have linked below and they will show you where provision was made during the building of the original line, for this expansion. Now those knockout panels have been there sine the 1970s, waiting for this expansion.
In an April 2008 Council meeting, the city council took another bold step towards this line. A new office tower for Epcor was starting construction over the route of this planned expansion. The city and the developer, came to an agreement. The developer would build the portion of the tunnel at the same time as the foundation of the tower was being built. This saved about $140,000,000 as compared to doing the work after the office tower was built. What needs to be mentioned, is that the LRT expansion was not approved at that point, as the funding agreements with the Province of Alberta and the Federal Government of Canada were not complete. The new north line will open in 2014, followed by the start of a new southeast to downtown to west side line. Here the city is already acquiring land, and placing zoning to allow for Transit Oriented Development, before the line starts construction.
This is not to say they have moved quickly, as Calgary 300 km south started later on their LRT, and currently has more track in service. However Edmonton issued in the modern era of Light Rail Transit that has swept through 40 cities in North America, with many more considering it. So for a city that had under a half million people to plan, and build a line that provided for the future, my hat is off to the City Councils, administrators and citizens who considered not just that day, but envisioned their city in 40 or 50 years and beyond, when they made that decision. We need more of this type of long range planning in all levels of government. Making the right choice, not the easiest or least expensive choice.