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Calgary fully re-opens Memorial Drive to vehicle traffic

It came as a shock to many accustomed to the Memorial Drive closure to see the stretch of Calgary road back open to traffic Tuesday.

The city closed the two south lanes along Memorial Drive in March, from about 9 Street NW to just past the Centre Street Bridge. This allowed users in the area more space to bike, walk or scoot without worrying about physical distancing during COVID-19.

The closure was in place round the clock. Until Tuesday.

Users awoke to a fully opened Memorial Drive and the adaptive roadway had been eliminated.

That decision was apparently made as a part of work to be done on the 5 Avenue flyover, the city said. It wasn’t made fully public until people noticed the change.

“The decision had been made because of the backups that are going to be caused by the lane closure on the fifth avenue flyover that we needed to open up the adaptable roadway on the bottom portion of the Centre Street bridge and Memorial during the week,” said Calgary roads spokeswoman, Tara Norton-Merrin.

Last week, the city said they were still in the process of collecting data. Decisions on Calgary’s adaptive roadways would come in the next month, they said.

That’s still the case for Crescent Road NW, the city said. With increased traffic volumes, the decision to re-open Memorial was made.

Data-driven decision

In late June, Ravi Seera with the City of Calgary said they’d already noted the traffic patterns changing on Memorial. There was much greater demand on weekends.

“What we’ve found so far is the majority of the usage seemed to happen on the weekends and weekdays is very minimal,” Seera said at the time.

That’s why the adaptive roadway will be kept along Memorial Drive on the weekends. The city still wants to accommodate weekend spikes in users.

Along with the Memorial Drive decision, the city fully reopened the bottom deck of the Centre Street bridge. It was also closed to vehicle traffic during the earlier part of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Norton-Merrin said that it’s likely the bulk of Calgary’s adaptive roadways will be taken out by the first snowfall, or the beginning of the snow and ice clearing season. That’s the first week of October, she said.