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Barlow/Max Bell LRT users directed around adjacent private property

Negotiations with the adjacent landowner are ongoing, but for now the City wants to shepherd Barlow / Max Bell LRT users to the existing, maintained infrastructure rather than the often-used path across private property.

Last month, community members in east Calgary raised safety concerns around the CTrain station, citing poor lighting in the walking and Park and Ride areas. At that time, Ward 10 Coun. Ray Jones brought the issue to council, looking for answers from administration.

The station is located between the east and westbound lanes of Memorial Drive, with a connection to the bus loop on the north side of Memorial. That bus loop sits on a right-of-way negotiated years ago on a private piece of land, to allow for the drop off of commuters. In that time, a makeshift Park-and-Ride morphed into the bus loop.

Gordon Parker, VP of Real Group of Companies, the property owner, told LiveWire Calgary last month that there’s no formal agreement for the parking area and therefore it’s not maintained or upgraded.

Nikhil Lobo, Manager of Transit Planning at the City, said they continue to negotiate on a renewal for their current agreement, which could include larger changes to the area. For the time being they are taking steps to divert users onto the surrounding City of Calgary infrastructure.

Lobo said they’re doing minor fencing repairs in the area, using concrete barriers to prevent access to the private property and they will be erecting new signage to move Calgary Transit users to their ideal route.

“We’d like to direct people to use the sidewalk and the pathways that are maintained, that are properly lit, that are within the actual city right-of-way, as opposed to going through the private property element,” Lobo said.

Lobo said they’re hoping to have most of this work done within the next month or so, weather dependent.

Newly-placed barriers, fencing upgrades and signage improvements are being added around the Barlow / Max Bell LRT station to divert people to the City’s maintained infrastructure, and around the adjacent private property. You can see in the top left corner the diagonal cut across being used. GOOGLE MAPS

Crossroads Community Association president Larry Leach said the updated signage and fencing repairs are welcome. He still has questions around the planning elements of future upgrades.

“I’m not certain of the wisdom of past planning ideas like designing things the way we want people to behave, as opposed to the way we actually behave. The current planning thinking, as I understand it, is to look at the way people are behaving – like walked on, beat down paths – and make those more permanent,” Leach said.

“The thought of blocking a path that our residents are clearly walking and trying to adjust their behavior to walk on an already existing sidewalk, with an unsafe crosswalk, looks counter-productive as I see it and will likely lead to fewer people walking and riding.”

Leach said he understands the “added constraint” of dealing with a third party, but he’s worried the changes could do more harm than good. He’s inviting transit officials to meet with community members face to face.

Lobo said because the Century Park area is slated for future development, the City has to carefully weigh their investment.

“In terms of the scale of improvements, that’s really taking that balanced approach to use the existing infrastructure that’s in place with the agreements, while making some enhancements that customers are looking for that are not going to be significant throwaway costs as well,” Lobo said.

He added that there are redevelopment conditions for the area that include the provision of a proper bus loop and Park and Ride and they work with the private landowners on those agreements.

“We’d be looking at putting in the right investment at the right time, here,” Lobo said.

Meanwhile, Lobo did say that station upgrades for Barlow / Max Bell are ongoing, with a target finish date at the end of March.

Improved lighting, cameras, tunnel upgrades, accessibility and signage improvements are currently in progress or completed at that station, Lobo said.