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Region takes a look at northwest LRT

Edmonton resident Fran Bittman doesn't like the idea of the capital building an LRT to St. Albert before resolving other city challenges.

Edmonton resident Fran Bittman doesn't like the idea of the capital building an LRT to St. Albert before resolving other city challenges.

"To NAIT, it makes sense," said Bittman outside one of two LRT open houses the City of Edmonton hosted for the proposed northwest LRT route. "But to St. Albert at this time, we have other priorities right now."

The two open houses, held on Wednesday and Thursday, was the public's first opportunity to provide feedback about the line. The LRT would run north of NAIT through the City Centre Airport lands, along 113A Street then turn west along 153 Avenue, stopping at a future park and ride on St. Albert's southern boundary. It was the preferred route of three presented to the public earlier this year.

Fernando Grossi and his wife live in the northwest part of Edmonton, but travel every day to St. Albert where they own an information technology consulting company. Both said they would not use the LRT for getting to and from work, but hope it will reduce traffic so their daily commute is easier.

However, Grossi and his wife Luciana hopes the project is completed before the wide-open timeline Edmonton has circled, between 2016 and 2040.

"We already have traffic problems now, I don't want to think of the traffic in 2040," said Grossi.

Luciana added that she didn't think many Edmontonians would use it to get to St. Albert, but could see people from St. Albert and Edmonton using it to get to the capital's downtown.

Giselle and Nate Tupper say the LRT would be a useful tool for students in the area who need to get to post-secondary campuses across the region. But the Tuppers concede they would only use the LRT on weekends, when they would take it to St. Albert for their usual weekend activities.

"A lot of our social and recreation opportunities are in St. Albert," said Nate. "If I could get on and go and not take a car, I would totally use it."

Natalie Paeuser and her neighbour, Ralph Petersen, who live at the corner of 113A Street and 127 Avenue, said they came out to ensure the LRT project would spare their homes. After receiving reassurances their homes were safe, Paeuser said she would consider taking the LRT for both work and recreation destinations.

Two cities, one region

Project manager Adam Laughlin said the open houses were a chance for the project team to collect feedback about the proposed line before Edmonton city council considers it on June 22.

"I think we're finding at these sessions, the majority of people don't know the details," Laughlin said. "Generally, people are getting informed."

Although the line is intended to serve the people of Edmonton, Laughlin said providing service to St. Albert on the new route is inevitable.

"They are two different cities, but it is one region," he said, adding that staff from St. Albert have helped with the project.