Starting in the evening of Nov. 24 after rush hour, Calgary’s largest-ever shuttle bus replacement service will be starting to allow for permanent rail to be installed and the temporary station to be removed at the Victoria Park LRT station.
The replacement service will see dozens of 40 and 60-foot buses used to shuttle Calgarians from existing LRT stations at Chinook, 39 Street, and City Hall/Bow Valley for nine days, until the morning of Monday, Dec. 4.
“We wanted to announce this early, for people to have time to plan, and we’ll be sharing many details as we lead up to the closure on alternatives and how they can still maintain their mobility in Calgary even with this closure,” said Doug Morgan, General Manager of Operational Services for the City of Calgary.
“We and our partners at CMLC are working to provide a range of alternatives for [Calgary Transit] customers, drivers, and others who may be affected. This will include the largest ever, replacement shuttle service provided by Calgary Transit service between Chinook and City Hall/Bow Valley College stations, plus express routes from Anderson and Heritage stations to keep people on the move.”
The construction period will also result in lane closures on northbound Macleod Trail, along with pedestrian detours into and out of Stampede Park.
Morgan said that the city was using experts to simulate and plan for all of the traffic disruptions and delays, and that the City of Calgary was finalizing plans of how to best deliver shuttle services and keep traffic moving.
A trio of Flames games at the Saddledome along with another major entertainment event are among the causes of increased traffic that planners are looking at, he said.
“One of the challenges that we’re working on those logistics of where the buses go where they stop and dwell. That’s why we’re concerned and want to make sure that we let Calgarians know to find some alternate routes,” he said.
“We’ll be doing a lot of instrumentation to help people understand, ‘here’s a different way you can go, and here’s some other alternatives.’ But it’s going to be dense down here as for traffic and customers.”
Calgary Transit had sufficient drivers to cover the number of shuttles required to cover the nine days of service, Morgan said. The organization, however, would be looking at voluntary overtime and possibly taking buses off other routes to provide coverage.
Finalized details of routes and stops for shuttle busses, along with detours for drivers and pedestrians are planned to be released at the beginning of November on the Calgary Transit website, app, and on CMLC’s interactive C+E district access map.
Construction milestone on $103 million project
When customers return to Victoria Park Station on Dec. 4, it will be for the first time on the brand new station platform that has been under construction for the past year.
Kate Thompson, CEO of CMLC, said that the station was a simple part of creating road-access across Macleod Trail from Stampede Park to 17 Avenue—but in reality has been a complex multi-million project that has reopened access to a part of the city which has not seen direct access for over 40 years.
“This is a critical multimodal transportation connection in the emerging Culture and Entertainment District. This allows for cyclists pedestrians, cars, and people to move back and forth from the Beltline to the west into Stampede Park, and open up this part of our city to the rest of Calgary,” she said.
The construction of the temporary Victoria Park Station platforms was a way to ensure that Calgarians would have continual access to the C-Train despite the complexity of construction on the site, she said.
Thompson said she understood that the completion of the permanent rails and the removal of the temporary station would be an inconvenience to Calgarians, but that CMLC had worked towards finding the best way to limit prolonged disruptions.
“We spent months evaluating options of what’s the best way to do this. How do we go from the temporary track temporary platform to the permanent platform? How do we do it safely? How do we do it efficiently? And how do we keep all Calgarians in mind when delivering this work? That’s what what led us to this solution,” she said.
“We ultimately determined that the nine day shutdown allows us the best option to keep the project on schedule, to reduce risk of unplanned closures and also to mitigate any longer term impacts for people who are using downtown to live work and play.”
Part of the difficulties came about as a result of building in a space that is confined on one side by one of the busiest transit corridors in the city to the west, and then the construction of the BMO Centre Expansion to the east, she said.
Thompson said that CMLC was closely monitoring the weather, and had contingencies in place to address any unforeseen challenges to completing construction within the nine days.
Further construction will take place after Dec. 4, to the landscaping around the Victoria Park Station with a final completion date to be aligned with the opening of the BMO Centre Expansion and the start of the Calgary Stampede.