Graham Construction/City of Edmonton, Edmonton, AB


Graham was tasked with constructing a funicular for the City of Edmonton in its iconic urban river valley. The project was originally designed for an alternate foundation system, but the river valley’s steep and environmentally sensitive terrain required the adaptability of a helical pile foundation. The project’s location was adjacent to a luxury hotel in the city’s downtown core, which meant our operation had to be quick and quiet to not disturb the hotel’s guests and residents in the area, all while staying within the client’s timeline and budget constraints.


The Almita engineering team worked closely with Graham and their project engineers, designers, and geotechnical consultants to design the river valley funicular’s foundation system. Typically large amounts of concrete are used for these systems, however large excavation was not an option for this project due to its difficult location. Excavation and site preparation was kept to a minimum to ensure that the river bank was minimally disturbed and that much of the natural vegetation was not removed. Helical pile installation equipment kept noise and vibration to low levels so that hotel guests and staff at the Hotel McDonald were not disturbed during the pile installation process. A strong safety plan was established to allow the crew and equipment to work on the extremely steep slope.


A system of helical piles with a concrete cap was designed to tie into the river bank, which consisted of 250 piles. Although changing geotechnical conditions were encountered over the various installation areas, Almita engineers were able to modify the design, and pile adjustments were made right on site to ensure the schedule and budget goals were met. Almita received very favorable feedback from both Graham and the City of Edmonton for our work on this project.