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Calgary Planning Commission reviews plans for 16 Avenue mobility bridge

Crossing adjacent to the Calgary Cancer Centre is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2024.

Planners presented updated details Thursday on a pedestrian crossing set for construction across a busy northwest Calgary roadway.

The progress report on the 16 Avenue and 29 Street NW overpass was added as a miscellaneous item to Calgary Planning Commission agenda Thursday.

“The overpass is located in one of the busiest pedestrian crossings outside of the downtown core with over 1,000 pedestrians crossing per day,” said Jason Lin, with the city’s public spaces delivery.

“With large developments underway in construction on both north and south sides of the pedestrian overpass, there will be a high potential for additional walking and cycling growth.”

The 16 Avenue NW corridor sees between 35,000 and 46,000 vehicles per day, according to 2019 City of Calgary traffic counts. 

The 55-metre bridge would cross 16 Avenue NW just west of the 29 Street / Uxbridge Drive NW intersection, connecting the Calgary Cancer Centre (south side) and an under-construction UXBorough Phase One building.

LWC has learned that the projected cost of the structure is roughly $9 million and would be completed sometime in the fall of 2024. A portion of the cost will be covered by Alberta Health Services and the UXBorough building developer, according to Lin. It’s unclear what the city’s portion would be.

Lin said the truss system was selected for “lightness and transparency” and the form and colour match the surrounding buildings. The access areas are integrated into the surrounding walking and biking infrastructure.

Integrated with buildings on both sides

Overhead view of the mobility crossing over 16 Avenue NW. To the south is the Calgary Cancer Centre. CALGARY PLANNING COMMISSION

The structure has connections with the buildings on both sides of the roadway, but not to the inside of the Calgary Cancer Centre, planning commissioners heard.

“Is there just total resistance to making a building connection? Was there a rationale associated with that? Or is it they just like people freezing their butts off trying to get to a very important piece of infrastructure in our province,” asked commissioner Jacob Weber.

Lin said it was identified early on in the design stage that the public couldn’t go through the building.

“It was not an option for them (AHS),” said Lin.

“They didn’t want the public to go through the building. There was sensitive medical equipment and (they) treated patients with compromised immune systems.”

Weber also commented that it appeared to be a constrained space. Lin said there are utilities that run through the site and they didn’t want to disrupt a plaza on the east side of the cancer centre.

When considering the access points, commissioner Joel Tiedemann asked if the current layout was the most efficient entry design. Lin said both the City and AHS was happy with the layout.

David Down, the City of Calgary’s Chief Urban Designer, said that it was important for the access to be convenient for the entire Foothills Medical Centre, University of Calgary campus and neighbourhood to the north – not just to get between the two buildings.

Kerensa Fromherz, director transportation infrastructure with the City moved the item forward, recognizing some of the planning constraints.

“Although it doesn’t align with that original vision from the ARP (Area Redevelopment Plan), it’s hard to argue with not having people walking through active cancer treatment areas,” she said.

“I think that the design that we’ve achieved is the best and optimal that we can do given those situations.”