High Level Line is ripe with potential, and it’s not just about the bridge. It is a multi-modal thread that connects the north and south sides of central Edmonton, activates a series of high-potential spaces, and challenges how well-designed infrastructure can change how we experience our city.
The Line has the ability to transform the urban fabric surrounding it. It stimulates the surrounding properties and enables a wide variety of uses: retail and residential frontages, dining, recreation, agriculture, celebration, people-watching and getting close to nature.
It’s real, it just hasn’t been built yet.
Scroll down to explore the character areas along High Level Line.
The northern entry point or destination of the Line. There’s a lot of energy here, but it needs somewhere to go. Let’s blend the student culture and vitality of MacEwan University with the amenities and communities further south. Throw around a football in the campus quad, sit outside and study, or hop on the 105 Avenue cycle track to head east or west.
Cross 104 Avenue to the plaza to grab a coffee or a bite to eat. Parking lots and single-story commercial retail units become a dense mixed-use development with ground level shops, restaurants, and pubs. Residential units on the upper floors house students, young professionals and empty-nesters looking to be closer to the action.
Stitching together Downtown, Macewan and Oliver, Railtown Green is all about taking a break. Stroll through the Aspen forest or catch some rays in a wide open grassy (or snowy!) park. Skating or sledding, anyone?
The residential character of Oliver transitions to the mixed-use vibrancy of Downtown at the High Level Line. Public and private open space blends, integrating shops and restaurants into the western edge of the Line and along 109 Street. The dense residential neighbourhood to the east ensures that a variety of people will enjoy Railtown Green’s respite year round.
Jasper Avenue is Edmonton’s original Main Street. At one time, not so long ago, the Line was connected over Jasper Avenue by a rail bridge and the space was called “9th Street Subway.” High Level Line takes a cue from its past and provides a multi-modal bridge over Jasper Avenue that allows users to bypass (or join) the busy street below.
Shops and restaurants animate the space beneath the bridge and contribute to the dynamic street life of Jasper Avenue. Generous stairs and ramps take visitors from the bridge back down to street level easily and intuitively. Additional access to the developments is provided on the bridge level–creating a concentrated energy at this critical node.
This area adds layers to the fabric that High Level Line is stitching. There are community residents, downtown workers, tourists, vehicles, cyclists, the river bank, LRT below, and an easy-going streetcar above.
What is currently a sunken trail south of 100 Avenue is brought up to street level, engaging with 109 Street and the neighbourhood to the west. The space becomes a market square and transit junction, with direct access to the Capital Line LRT at Grandin Station. The mix of Track Shack shops and services in Grandin Junction are ever-changing to meet the needs of everyone weaving through.
Two parks—Constable Ezio Faraone Park and Alberta Legislature Grounds—are connected above the traffic at the north end of the High Level Bridge. The sweeping park brings pedestrians, cyclists, and streetcar users to a stunning vantage point overlooking the North Saskatchewan River Valley and provides a wide range of uses through all seasons.
HIGH LEVEL BRIDGE
Feel like you’re on top of the world on the Line’s namesake. Imagine standing on the upper deck of the High Level Bridge with the vastness and beauty of the river valley in full panorama. Imagine being able to get there on foot or by bike and not have to negotiate with cars, trucks and buses. Imagine being encouraged to linger.
The upper deck of the High Level Bridge is reserved for those seeking an awe-inspiring experience and a safe and convenient route between Downtown and the Southside.
Heading south, the city quiets down as you feel like you’re burrowing into the river bank. Find yourself deep below Garneau, strolling through the wooded ravine. Enter the historic rail tunnel and Edmonton’s most alluring open art gallery that was once reserved only for train passengers.
From the Garneau Ravine, you can choose to climb to 109 Street or the University of Alberta, descend to Kinsmen Park or carry onward through the tunnel to Strathcona and Whyte Avenue.
Fresh air and friendly neighbours make you want to slow down throughout Strathcona Gardens. There’s a strong sense of community here, and even visitors to the area will be able to feel that. Laneway housing backs on to garden plots, orchards and naturalized landscapes. Green thumbs and birdwatchers come together while children catch frogs and dragonflies.
Strathcona Gardens provide a rich ecological network that incorporates natural landscape systems that provide stormwater retention and treatment, wildlife habitat, native plants and educational gardens.
The southern end or starting point of your High Level Line journey is in the city’s arts and culture hub. It’s a gathering space in the middle of Edmonton’s most eclectic mix of shops, nightlife, entertainment, tourism, and history. Just think about the people watching here! The Track Shacks can make their way back to the barns for storage or a refresh.
Here, the line extends south of Whyte Avenue to the original Strathcona Canadian Pacific Railway station. Future extension of the line southward from here is ready to happen. The green space north of Whyte Avenue connects all the way to the river valley through End of Steel Park.
“Make no little plans; they have no magic to stir [people]’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized.”
-Daniel Burnham, Architect and Urban Planner