Deerfoot Trail improvements are being put forward for public consultation as the city and province chart the future course for Calgary’s busiest roadway.
Included as solutions for the Deerfoot are an expansion to four lanes from Barlow Trail SE to Airport Trail NE, and an overhaul of seven interchanges. With the expansion to four lanes, there are two options – first to have one of the lanes converted to a High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane and the other to just have it as a general purpose lane.
It’s all a part of a 30-year plan to increase capacity, reduce travel times and improve safety in the 35 kilometre stretch of highway, the city said.
Capacity, merging, weaving, and diverging were identified as major challenges on Deerfoot Trail. Right now, the main north-south route cutting through the city sees an average of 80,000 vehicle per day in the south, up to 180,000 per day north of Memorial.
“(Deerfoot is) not working well, today, we all understand the heavy traffic and the frustration of Calgarians,” said Jeffrey Xu, project manager with the City of Calgary.
No total cost yet for Deerfoot Trail upgrades
Xu said they haven’t yet put together a priority list for the expressway projects as it does need to go through the public engagement process. He did note, however that the Memorial Drive to 17 Avenue SE corridor is one of the prime areas of concern.
“We have to treat this road as a whole system. We do not want to solve a problem at one location and push the problem next location,” he said.
There’s also no initial cost estimate for the projects, though recent interchanges have cost the city around $60 million to build. There’s also no specific timeline for construction the projects to begin, but Jerry Lau, Infrastructure Manager, South Region with Alberta Transportation indicated that work could begin as early as 2021 depending on the recommendations that come back from the public engagement.
The province committed $110 million to Deerfoot Trail upgrades in the recent budget, taking them through to 2023. Further upgrades will be dependent on available capital.
Councillor Magliocca welcomes provincial cash
Coun. Joe Magliocca, who attended Wednesday’s presentation, said he’s glad to see money invested into the Deerfoot Trail upgrades.
“We can really move a lot more people on the Deerfoot than any other highway throughout Alberta,” he said.
“The Deerfoot is it, and if we can add any value to it, or any adjustments to, it can move a lot of traffic, it’s great.”
Public input is being done to Nov. 25. An online survey, a list of dates and locations for in-person feedback can be found at calgary.ca/deerfoot.