When the City of Edmonton made upgrades to Jasper Avenue, the main street right in the heart of downtown, the project required creative thinking above and below ground. On the surface, the Imagine Jasper Avenue project widened sidewalks, improved sightlines for pedestrians and drivers, and added new lighting, trees and even an amphitheater. Below ground was a little more complicated. Aging utilities needed upgrades, and the storm drain system had to handle a 100-year flooding event.

PCL Edmonton’s civil project team with collaboration and innovation from Whissell Contracting and their vendor, S3 came to the table with a proposal that would save time and money by rethinking a few key elements of the original plan. The team also pitched how they would manage the risk and complexity of maintaining an active construction site less than a meter away from a street that averaged 20,000 vehicles a day. And, to make things more interesting, the Edmonton Oilers were going into their 2021 playoff run.

“This project wasn’t about the lowest price. It was about best value,” said Dariusz Mrugala, PCL Project Manager. “Our proposal also included good examples of how we’ve accommodated local businesses impacted by construction. We used way finding signs guiding people to the local businesses, and even had their temporary store signage right on our construction fences and fenced off multiple access points through the construction site. We managed successfully do all construction work, including deep excavation, shoring and traffic accommodation with no safety issues or incidents.”

Driving down Jasper Avenue today, it’s easy to assume that most of the work was on the 110 Street Plaza. The wide sidewalks, custom benches and amphitheater reflected the city’s goal of making the street more pedestrian friendly. But the full scope of the project included the complete reconstruction of Edmonton’s main street from 109 to 114 Street above and below ground.

This is where the most important piece of the project is buried deep underground — supporting any major rain events and waiting for that one in a hundred-year flooding event, and to cheer on the Edmonton Oilers.

Installing the new storm drain system under one of Edmonton’s busiest roads was not going to be easy. Because of PCL’s value of collaboration and partnership with sub-contractors and their civil partner Whissell Contracting’s innovative recommendations, it was built using 71 pieces of pre-cast concrete that are 3.7m x 3.7m in size to hold 1,860,000 liters of water. In the span of a single month, every single one of the pre-cast concrete boxes were lifted and set into place using an 85-ton hydraulic excavator. And each one is proudly stamped with “Go Oilers” and “Made in Alberta” — a fitting tribute to Edmonton’s prestigious hockey legacy.

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