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Calgary Deerfoot commutes to shorten after season of construction, province says

Total cost of upgrades expected to be $615 million. Check the map at the end for more details.

It’ll be short-term pain for long-term gain, as the province undertakes this summer a plan to upgrade the roadways and bridges of Deerfoot Trail.

Coming this year will be significant construction work to increase capacity on ramps, ease access to exits and intersections, adding new lanes, and twinning bridges.

With that will come some temporary delays for commuters as work begins—like that of the work being done on 64 Avenue NE which began on April 24. Temporary closures for the other projects will be announced on www.deerfootimprovements.ca.

The Deerfoot Trail upgrades, which have a combined cost of $615 million, are being split into two projects consisting of work on the Ivor Strong Bridge, Anderson Road and Bow Bottom Trail, Southland Drive, and Glenmore Trail, alongside work being done on Beddington Trail and 11 Street NE, and on Deerfoot Trail and 64 Avenue NE.

All of the work is expected to begin this year, with phased completions ending this season, in 2025, and 2027.

“Deerfoot, obviously, is the busiest road in the province of Alberta and sees about 180,000 vehicles per day,” said Alberta’s Minister for Transportation and Economic Corridors Devin Dreeshen.

“We need to have strong infrastructure to get people where they need to go, and also to support Alberta’s strong economy, and to alleviate some of the pressures on the Deerfoot—we are moving forward with significant improvements.”

Construction firms selected

Minister Dreeshen poked some light fun at the province’s $330 million funding announcement on April 25, for infrastructure surrounding a new arena in Calgary’s Culture and Entertainment district, during the Deerfoot media availability.

“It’s been quite the two days: yesterday was a $330 million day with the Calgary arena deal, and today’s announcement for Deerfoot to be $615 million to the Deerfoot improvements,” he said.

“You do not have to be a Calgary Flames fan in order to get the benefits of the Deerfoot improvements that we’re announcing here today.”

The government has selected LBCO Contracting Ltd. to perform the upgrading and addition of an auxiliary lane to the 64 Avenue NE project.

Aecon Transportation West Ltd. was selected to perform the Beddington Trail and 11 Street NE work, and Aecon Infrastructure Management for all of the other Deerfoot Trail projects.

The government said contracts for upgrading work on McKnight Boulevard NE and 16 Avenue NE are expected to move forward.

“We anticipate that it’ll take about 15 per cent less time during morning rush hour and 22 per cent less time during evening rush hour once this is completed,” said Minister Dreeshen.

Devin Dreeshen, Minister of Transportation and Economic Corridors, talks about Deerfoot trail upgrades outside the Alberta Transportation Office in Calgary on Wednesday, April 26, 2023. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Big for the economy of Calgary

Minister Dreeshen said that the work when complete would save about 900,000 hours on the road per year from travellers and would result in an economic boost of about $23 million per year.

Calgary Economic Development CEO Brad Parry praised the upgrades, saying that they would further drive optimization and efficiency for local businesses.

“There’s more than 2,500 businesses in our city that are in the transportation and warehouse sectors, and the sector is forecasted to add over seven billion in GDP by 2026,” Parry said.

“That’s a lot of movement through our city.”

Parry said that having the infrastructure in place, of which Deerfoot is a key part, is essential to be seen by businesses worldwide as a logistics hub for North America.

“It’s about these nodes of excellence throughout the city… centers of excellence in the northeast, you have the centres of excellence in downtown, you have them in the northwest at the university,” Parry said.

“The connectivity point for us is so key. So to be able to make that easy transportation and flow of traffic just makes everything connected together and is that connective tissue for us.”

He said that for Calgary businesses time is money, so the faster they are able to, for example, connect passengers from the airport to meetings in the downtown, the better.

“We’re the most connected midsize city in over America, with over 100 flights—direct flights coming out of here—so that accessibility makes a big difference for people coming into the city,” Parry said.

Maps of Deerfoot Trail upgrades for north and south Calgary