Ring road planning in Alberta began in the mid-1950s, inspired by the need to plan for future major road infrastructure around Alberta’s two largest cities (Edmonton and Calgary) that would function as important economic trade corridors.
For more information on the Calgary Ring Road please visit Alberta.ca.
Alberta Transportation carefully considers the environmental impacts related to tree removal for any provincial project, including the West Calgary Ring Road. Trees and brush are only removed after an impact assessment has deemed it essential to the successful completion of the project. Prior to removal, all trees are physically inspected for birds or other wildlife inhabitants.
The Transportation Utility Corridor (TUC) is land set aside to house the ring road, major power lines, pipelines and linear municipal utilities. In some cases, trees and brush may exist in the TUC until the land is needed for infrastructure. Often there are underground utilities within the TUC, so while the area may appear vacant it is actually housing utilities including telecommunication lines, electrical conduits, gas and water lines. Tree canopies and root systems interfere with above and below ground utilities. This can significantly increase maintenance costs to the Province.
Trees will be replanted in the restoration areas where space is available when the work is complete. The locations for tree restoration will be determined based on suitable tree species, size and spacing to encourage healthy growth. Trees will not be replanted adjacent to the road due to ongoing maintenance requirements and potential future utility needs.
A noise study predicts future noise levels based on anticipated traffic volumes to determine if sound attenuation is warranted based on Alberta Transportation’s guidelines. Specialized acoustical engineers who are registered to practice within the Province of Alberta conduct noise studies for provincial projects.
Alberta Transportation considers noise attenuation if sound levels exceed a 24-hour weighted average of 65 decibels. The City uses Leq10, which accounts for peak noise hours. As this is a provincial project on provincial land, Alberta Transportation noise guidelines will be applied.
A dust suppression program is in place and air quality is monitored so that dust and fine particulates resulting from construction stay within provincial ambient air quality objectives.
Dust is a natural phenomenon, and a part of construction. Dust levels are greatly impacted by environmental conditions such as wind speed and direction, precipitation levels, and temperature.
Dust suppression and mitigation on the West Calgary Ring Road projects includes:
Watering disturbed areas and unpaved roads
Applying dust suppressant products or processes such as hydroseeding (a planting process that sprays a mixture of seed and mulch on surfaces to minimize dust) at appropriate locations
Over the course of the project, numerous stockpiles will be created within the Transportation Utility Corridor (TUC). There is no limit on the size of stockpiles, provided they meet stability requirements. To limit dust and reduce erosion, stockpile surfaces will be tackified with a mixture of seed and mulch appropriate for this area.
These stockpiles are considered temporary and can be removed at any time, if the space is needed within the TUC.
Traffic delays from construction
The contractors and Alberta Transportation are committed to minimizing delays caused by construction. However, it is not possible to undertake this magnitude of work – especially with the high volumes of traffic already using Stoney Trail and the Trans-Canada Highway – without disruptions. Drivers should expect congestion, especially in the summer months, and use tools like Alberta 511 (online or download the app) and The City of Calgary’s Traffic Information Map to plan ahead. You can also subscribe to the weekly newsletter to stay current on upcoming work.
Design-build contract delivery
There are three main types of contracting strategies used on major infrastructure projects in Alberta: design-bid-build, design-build and design-build-finance-operate (commonly known as a P3).
Design and construction are separate contracts, typically with design services provided by engineering consultants and construction services provided by general contractors.
Design and construction services are contracted together to a single entity.
Also known as a Public / Private Partnership (P3), this type of contract is similar to a design-build in that there is a single contract between the public owner and the private entity, but also requires the private partner to finance a portion of the project and operate the infrastructure for a pre-determined period of time (often 20 – 30 years).
The North and South segments of the WCRR are being delivered as design-build contracts which allow the contractor to both design and build the project simultaneously. The design-build contract structure reduces timelines and minimizes impacts to the public.
The Bow River Bridge Twinning project follows a more traditional contract structure of design-bid-build. The Northeast, Southeast and Southwest segments of the Calgary Ring Road used design-build-finance-operate contracts (P3 contracts).