Since 2016, commuters traveling along Yellowhead Trail, Fort Road, or taking the LRT into downtown, have probably noticed a massive new structure rising where these three paths meet just south of a tall brick smokestack, and many have probably wondered what it might be.

Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage and historical Canada Packers Smokestack, photo by Dave Sutherland

It's the new Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage, a 450,000-square-foot building named after Edmonton's first female bus driver in 1975, set to replace the aging Westwood Garage on 106 Street. City of Edmonton representatives for the project provided a tour of the facility, which is still under construction.

The $210.7-million project included the restoration of the 30-metre-tall smokestack, the only remaining part of the 1936 Canada Packers plant, which was demolished in 1995. The smokestack received Municipal Historical designation in 2015, and about forty percent of the bricks and mortar were replaced over a period of two months as part of the restoration.

Historical Canada Packers Smokestack, photo by Dave Sutherland

A series of public walkways is set to built over the building remains below the smokestack, with historical displays telling the story of the site and the surrounding area, once known as "Packingtown" due to the high concentration of meat packing businesses.

Inside the transit garage itself, infrastructure is being put together to handle the storage and maintenance of about 300 ETS buses, including exhaust systems, as well as a rainwater collection system which directs water from the roof into a 1.5-million-litre cistern, to be used to wash the buses.

One of several bays capable of holding 28 ETS buses each, photo by Dave Sutherland

The garage is also unique in that it is the first in Edmonton that will be capable of supporting the 25 electric buses that the city has on order. These vehicles require thicker concrete floor slabs to handle their additional weight, as well as complex power distribution facilities for charging, and an extra backup generator. The roof of the building is also designed to accommodate solar panels in the future.

Installing the exhaust infrastructure, photo by Dave Sutherland

The bus maintenance facility provides 35 bays, including three undercarriage wash bays. Angle-irons attached to the ceiling provide safety tie-offs for maintenance staff that need to work on the top of the buses.

Maintenance area and parts shop, photo by Dave Sutherland

The garage also includes a 6,000-square-foot administration area for about 450 operations staff, and an underground parkade for staff with about 670 stalls. Additionally, a small LRT platform is set to be constructed just to the east of the facility to enable additional access for ETS staff.

Administration area atrium, photo by Dave Sutherland

A public art piece titled 53º20 — 40’N by Berlin artist Thorsten Goldberg, which includes five metal sculptures representing topographies of uninhabited mountain regions at the same latitude of Edmonton, is expected to begin installation next year.

A render of one of the 53º20 — 40’N pieces by Thorsten Goldberg, image via City of Edmonton

The Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage is expected to begin operations in late 2019, the new expanded facility a sign of Edmonton's growth into a modern metropolitan centre. 

Kathleen Andrews Transit Garage, photo by Dave Sutherland

Want to learn more about the project? Check out the associated Database file and Forum thread - where you can also find more photos of the project and tour. As always, feel free to join the conversation in the comments section below. 

Related Companies:  City of Edmonton, gh3, Graham Group