Oliver Bowen LRV Maintenance Facility

Oliver Bowen facility picture with blue sky

  • Client

    The City of Calgary

  • Region

    Calgary, AB

  • City


  • Year Completed


  • Size

    220,100 sq. ft.

  • Sector


  • Sub-Sector

    Transit & Transportation

The Story

EllisDon acted as the Construction Manager for the City of Calgary’s Oliver Bowen Light Rail Vehicle (LRV) Maintenance Facility project. The facility, which sits on a 19.5 hectare site, has the capability to complete major overhauls, inspections, maintenance and cleaning of light rail vehicles. The inside of the facility includes LRV storage and service lanes, a maintenance shop, large component storage, parts storage, vacuum stations, overhead cranes, turntables for bogies, a truck shop, sand distribution system, platforms and office facilities.

Early procurement and coordination with specialized sub-trades to identify long lead items and define scopes of work was critical to ensure availability for construction and in the development of the project schedule. As a LEED Gold Certified building, the facility also includes a cistern to store rainwater used in landscaping irrigation, slab radiant floor heating, high performance window glazing, variable speed drive fans, exhaust air energy recovery, and water conserving plumbing fixtures.

Challenges & Solutions

The facility has extensive grounding throughout; the perimeter fencing, structural steel, rebar, turntable and the track itself were all grounded. EllisDon was integral in the coordination process to determine the layout and sequence of installation. EllisDon relied on open communication and detailed advanced level planning with the electrical subcontractor to ensure the installation of the large ground grids.

EllisDon similarly reviewed design drawings and met with subcontractors to coordinate the installation of services, platform, systems and equipment. When organizing work for service installation in tight spaces, EllisDon created interference drawings in plan and in section, and identified an area that each subcontractor could use for installation of their systems.

Due to the site’s proximity to the Calgary Airport, EllisDon applied for Nav Canada clearance. EllisDon worked with Nav Canada to determine whether any construction would interfere with the flight path. Nav Canada enforced a crane height restriction of 150 feet and EllisDon worked with the structural steel
contractor to implement an effective steel erecting procedure that adhered to all imposed restrictions.

At the commencement of the project the scope involved only the shell of this new building, and throughout the project the complete interior scope was added by the city to create a fully operational facility, including a unique overhead door system had to be developed and constructed to fit. These door systems maintained a live connection with overhead catenary electrical lines while in an open position, to allow LRV vehicles to stay powered to allow them to move in and out of the service bays. Early procurement and coordination was required with specialized sub-trades to identify long lead items and define scopes of work which ensured availability for construction and development of the project schedule.

Typical to maintenance facilities, the clearance proved to be another project challenge. Attention to the layout details around the train overhead power line was crucial as there is a strict ‘no fly zone’, or minimum clearance around the line that applies to all installations. As the catenary line was installed by the City’s utility power contractor, EllisDon installed a mocked up line on each lane to ensure there were no interferences with other systems, lights or supports.


Commissioning was especially important for EllisDon due to the highly integrated nature of all rail maintenance facility systems. EllisDon also actively coordinated with the City’s rail and utility power contractors and dedicated weekly meetings were held to coordinate between track works, traction power and specialty equipment in order to ensure a smooth transition between parties.

Planning ahead allowed EllisDon to better understand the relationship between the systems and properly sequence the testing and commissioning to ensure the system as a whole was working properly and safely. A training schedule was provided to the City so Calgary Transit personnel could attend and operations and maintenance manuals were provided to the City. EllisDon diligently documented all performance testing results and effectively managed the training and closeout process.