"Operator, break on through to the other side!" — with a reference to The Doors, Mayor Don Iveson on Tuesday kicked off the completion of the remaining tunneling work for the Valley Line LRT. Not long after, an excavator tore into the last remaining wall of the sole underground portion of the project.

Dignitaries ready to signal for the breakthrough, photo by Dave Sutherland

The 400-metre twin tunnels run under Jasper Avenue, connecting future LRT riders between downtown and The Quarters to the Tawatinâ Bridge, where trains will cross the North Saskatchewan River and continue into the city's southeast.

Mayor Iveson was joined by Edmonton Centre MP Randy Boissonnault, TransEd CEO Allan Neill, and LRT Project Delivery Director Brad Smid in celebrating the milestone, alongside the many men and women who have worked on the tunnel excavation since it began in 2017.

An excavator breaks through the remaining wall, photo by Dave Sutherland

The twin tunnels required excavating over 86,000 tonnes of soil, and averaged a distance of 1.77 metres per day.

Workers pose for photos, photo by Dave Sutherland

Work on the entire length of the line is ramping up for the summer season, which has seen much of 102 Avenue downtown closed to all traffic, and is currently restricting traffic to a single southbound lane on Connors Road. Those living and traveling through the southeast will start to see elevated guideways installed around the future Davies Station, as well as construction on several power substations along the length of the line.

Valley Line construction on Connors Road, photo by Dave Sutherland

Bombardier recently announced completion of the first low-floor LRV for the Valley Line, and Mill Woods residents may see testing of the trains along 66 Street as early as this fall. Operation of the line from Mill Woods to downtown is expected to begin in 2020, while planning for an extension to Lewis Farms via West Edmonton Mall is finalized and funding is secured this year.

Watch the video of the actual breakthrough:

Be sure to check out the Forum thread for many more photos of the event, and leave a comment there or below to let us know your thoughts on the Valley Line project.

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