100 Street Funicular: Free rides. No tickets. Every day.

100 Street Funicular: Free rides. No tickets. Every day.

The time has come for Edmontonians to experience the highly-anticipated Mechanized River Valley Access project, officially named 100 Street Funicular and Frederick G. Todd Lookout. We couldn’t be more excited!

Wondering what a “funicular” is? In short, it’s like an elevator that moves up and down along a slope. It’s a unique part of this project, but there’s more to it than that! The early goal of the project was to create a connection between Downtown Edmonton (top of bank) and the North Saskatchewan River valley (bottom of bank) and the trail systems throughout. Our team of engineers, architects, landscape architects and planners saw this as an opportunity for an accessible connection and even more! The design celebrates our river valley and gives people a place to gather and connect to nature—right in the heart of the city.

A burning question we hear all the time is, “how much does it cost to ride the funicular?” Easy answer: it’s free. Always. No tickets or reservations required. You just walk up to it and push the button, then wait for it like you would at any public elevator.

So, what else can you expect on your funicular ride? Here’s a detailed walk-through of your journey from the top of the valley to the river:

Promontory

Next to the iconic Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, this upper plaza is where you enter the funicular, start your descent down the urban stairs, or take in the view at the top. There’s plenty of space up here for special events and gathering.

Funicular and Urban Stairs

The most famous element of the project so far—the funicular! It’s like an elevator that goes sideways up/down the slope. It’s free to ride, open during regular City of Edmonton park hours, and has lots of room for wheelchairs, bikes with trailers, strollers, and people. The 65m ride is about 37 seconds from top to bottom, reaching a top speed of 2 m/s.

Fun fact: the motor pulls the funicular up the hill using electricity. When the funicular travels down the slope, the motion of the motor generates electricity that goes back into the grid!

Beside the funicular, you’ll find the urban stairs. It’s not your average staircase—this one is designed with plenty of seating space to gather and rest. The downtown crowd will be flocking there to enjoy lunch on a warm summer day!

Promenade

We like to think of this as a meadow tucked in the river bank. The design makes good use of a natural plateau in the river bank. Step off the boardwalk into the open space with public art benches that reflect the water movement in the river entitled Turbulent by Jill Anholt.

Pedestrian Bridge

Rise above traffic while you make your way across Grierson Hill Road. There’s no dangerous crosswalks here! Just beautiful river valley views and places to rest or linger along the bridge.

Frederick G. Todd Lookout

Here, you’ll feel like you’re on top of the forest. A 20m high cantilever lookout allows you to have the magnificent river valley in full panorama. It’s named after Frederick G. Todd, a landscape architect that originally proposed Edmonton’s river valley park system in the early 1900s. He saw how special our river valley is, and he was instrumental in making sure it remains natural and publically accessible to all.

Elevator and Stairs

At the end of the journey to the river, you have the choice to finish with the elevator or stairs. This end ties in with the extensive river valley trail system. The lower plaza has space for bike parking, more benches, and other distinct views of nature.

The journey is just as enjoyable when you start at the bottom and make your way up to downtown. Either way, the whole trip takes about six minutes, depending on the wait at the funicular and elevator. Or, it can be a lot longer if you stop to take in the gorgeous views along the way—exactly what the project was designed for!

Learn more about the project here.

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