River Valley Alliance capital projects locations map.
The Mechanized River Valley Access project will help make the river valley more accessible to people of all ages and abilities. On June 23, 2015, City Council approved the construction of the project connecting 100 Street near the Hotel MacDonald to the river valley trail system near the Low Level Bridge. Construction began in March 2016, and is anticipated to be complete by fall 2017.
While the funicular may be the most attention grabbing and unique part of the Mechanized River Valley Access, the project is about so much more! Mechanized access will create a new destination in our city: an innovative, barrier-free system that will allow people to enjoy both our vibrant downtown and our amazing river valley within minutes. And while connectivity to nature is a key element, the project has also been designed to include programmable spaces, as well as places for active play, social engagement, and relaxation.
The $24 million project budget is funded by the River Valley Alliance supported by the provincial and federal governments, and the City of Edmonton.
This new city-building project has seven key elements:
The Promontory (top platform)
A promontory will allow users to take advantage of the amazing views from the top of the bank near the Hotel Macdonald. Stop under the sheltered canopy as you load onto the funicular, take a moment to relax at one of the seating areas, or spend a few moments at the top of the urban staircase and take in the sights.
Designed for more than getting from point A to point B, these wide and welcoming stairs are a place to linger, to stop and sit, or to get in your daily workout. For those cyclists not wanting to take the funicular, a bike rail runs the length of the stairs.
With plenty of space for wheelchairs, walkers, strollers, and bikes, the glass-enclosed funicular will descend from the top of the bank to a promenade above the valley floor. The funicular will fit up to 20 people and can accommodate different configurations of bikes, trailers, strollers, and specialized equipment like wheelchairs or mobility scooters.
The steps and the funicular will land on a promenade, which includes a grassy seating area with benches for people to stop and enjoy the views. The promenade is designed to accommodate both through-traffic and citizens wanting to eat lunch, watch the sunset, or take in the Canada Day fireworks!
Connecting the promenade to the lookout, the bridge will provide safe passage across Grierson Hill Road.
The bridge gently slopes down to overlook the edge of the river. A glass railing and built-in seating will allow a seamless way to take in the flow of the river and the downtown skyline!
The elevator is an essential part of creating accessible, barrier-free access to the river valley. From the bridge, an elevator and a staircase will connect the Mechanized River Valley Access to the existing trail system and Louise McKinney Park, the Low Level Bridge, and the Rossdale/River Crossing area.
Public Art Announcement
The City of Edmonton unveiled the art piece for the Mechanized Access as part of the Percent for Art Program.
The artwork, Turbulent, by Jill Anholt, is inspired by the unique water patterns of the North Saskatchewan River. Turbulent will consist of thin, brightly-coloured metal ribbons that will float above concrete benches on the grass lawn north of the promenade. In addition to being a vibrant art piece, the ribbons will act as seating for pedestrians to pause, sit, lounge, and converse while taking in incredible river valley views.
The total commission is $150,000 and will be installed by the end of 2017.
What does mechanized access mean?
The City of Edmonton looks for opportunities to create connectivity between urban areas and the river valley. In addition to increasing connectivity, the Mechanized River Access project is intended to address the challenges some citizens may face in accessing the river valley from downtown. The current access (stairs near the Hotel Macdonald) presents a significant issue for people with mobility issues. Through thoughtful design and mechanized components, the project will provide all Edmontonians and visitors with access to the river valley from downtown.
In order to ensure accessibility, the project includes an outdoor elevator and a funicular. A funicular is a cable propelled system that can haul one or two cars over an inclined track. The outdoor elevator will be located at the base of the project and will allow citizens to connect to the existing trail system.
Why was a funicular chosen?
The City considered a number of outdoor mechanized systems that have been built across the world in urban environments. The funicular was selected as the best option for this location. Funiculars are safe, have a smaller footprint than other options, typically have long service lives, and are more economical than other fully accessible systems.
What is the location of this project?
The Mechanized River Valley project will connect 100 Street near the Hotel Macdonald and the river valley trail system near the Low Level Bridge.
What are the timelines for this project?
Construction began in March 2016.