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Upcoming airport transit public engagement not tied to Calgary Olympic bid: Officials

While the timing is curious, upcoming public engagement on a transit link to the Calgary International Airport has nothing to do with preparations for an Olympic bid, say officials.

Past Olympic conversations among Calgarians have often touched on an LRT linkup to the airport, as the need intensifies to efficiently shuttle tens of thousands of visitors around the city and to the venues.

Anne Cataford, major transit projects manager with the City of Calgary, said the two open houses slated for the Airport Transit Study – Green Line to Blue Line Connector, are meant to gather information for the functional planning study for the future transportation corridor.

Cataford said it’s pretty typical to do these studies 10 to 20 years ahead of when the work could begin. Right now, there’s no capital funding set aside for the route, though city council will set the next cycle of budgets later this year.

The Calgary Airport Authority is in the process of updating their master plan and with ongoing work on the Green Line, Cataford said dovetailing that with the airport transit work seemed appropriate.

“We thought it would be a good time to continue our work in that area,” she said.

Ward 12 Coun. Shane Keating, who’s the chair of the city’s transportation committee, said the timing of the public engagements, while in the process of constructing a potential Olympic bid, is purely coincidental.

“I don’t think it’s technically anything to do with the Olympics, I think it’s a matter of course,” he said.

Both Keating and Cataford underscored that one of the primary reasons for the work is to identify the proper route for a connection between the future Green Line and the future Blue Line extension.

Base plan for study area map – COURTESY CITY OF CALGARY

While it ends at the Saddletowne Station now, the Blue line is projected to go past there to 96 Avenue, Country Hills and Stoney Trail. It’s at 96 Avenue that they want to make a possible connection between the Blue and Green lines, utilizing the Airport Tunnel for that connection.

Keating acknowledge the need for this connection, noting that people don’t want to have to ride all the way to the downtown via the Green Line CTrain, to then go back up the Blue Line to get to the airport. And the proposals he’s seen show that with projected passenger numbers (outside of the Olympics) the best alternative would be a tram or bus route between the two lines, with a stop at the airport – not a full LRT option.

Still, Cataford said while their work is ongoing, they’re connecting with all stakeholders, including the newly-formed Olympic bid team, Calgary 2026.

“They’re looking at all transportation options to support the Olympic bid. We’re connecting with them to let them know the work that we’re doing from our side,” Cataford said.

The CBEC feasibility report published one year ago said that the LRT would be the primary mode of transportation for Olympic visitors, but that projected LRT volumes could be handled by the current system, assuming the Green Line was operational.

For now, the airport transit public engagement is specifically around future station locations, the proposed alignment and the technology needs for the route. They’re also looking at concerns over the potential link as well as future opportunities in the route’s construction.

Open House #1 – June 23

Harvest Hills Alliance Church
10099 Harvest Hills Blvd N.W.
Drop in anytime between 9:30 a.m. – noon

Open House #2 – July 4

The Genesis Centre
7555 Falconridge Blvd N.E.
Drop-in anytime between 4:30 – 7 p.m.

A staff member who speaks Punjabi will be at the July 4 event.

If you are interested in the study but are unable to attend, the display boards will be available for online viewing on June 25, 2018. An online survey will also be available from June 25 – July 18, 2018.