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May 16, 2008 | General

A committee led by the City of Edmonton and Edmonton Airports to improve ground transportation to the Edmonton International Airport reviewed its progress at a meeting Friday.

City of Edmonton Manager of Transportation Planning Brice Stephenson reported that stoplights on 103/104 Streets from Argyle to 23rd Avenue are now synchronized for faster access to the airport. Stephenson estimated that changes on the southbound portion will reduce stops by half and save 15% of travel time; and northbound, result in a two-thirds reduction in stops and 20% time saving.

The committee heard that new signage on Highway 2 northbound will be erected within two weeks, and further new signage on both provincial and city road corridors will be erected to better direct travellers. The Highway 2 sign will provide motorists with the distance to several key points en route to downtown Edmonton, instead of only reporting the distance to the city centre.

Edmonton Airports reported that plans to open a downtown terminal are at the property identification stage. Several sites are being examined for suitability. It is expected that a terminal without check-in will open by the fall, with the check-in component to follow within a year.

Improvements to the airport shuttle bus will be in place by June 1, including improved frequency (30 minutes in peak times), earlier morning departures (starting at 4:30 am), and a 1-800 reservation number. Within a year, further improvements will include 20 minute peak frequency, new equipment, faster and more reliable service, and better marketing of the service to travelers.

The Committee formally agreed to urge quick completion of the proposed Ellerslie overpass. A joint project of the Province of Alberta and City of Edmonton, the overpass is currently entering the design and property acquisition stages. New street lighting and signage will be components of that project, as well as of the projects to extend Anthony Henday and Whitemud Drives.

Among the other options examined by the group was a premium helicopter service between Edmonton International and downtown, to a heliport as yet not identified. The committee also heard a presentation about a possible train service between downtown, government center, Strathcona and the airport. The committee agreed to request a demonstration of the train.

“We have truly remarkable cooperation from the City, the Province, and other agencies and officials,” said Scott Clements, President of Edmonton Airports. “This is a group which can make changes, and they are committed to doing so. We will be able to deliver on our promise of better ground transportation to the International Airport.”