The contract for the South project has been awarded to Calgary Safelink Partners for $277 million. Both the North and South projects are being constructed in a design-build contract structure, which means design and construction services are contracted together to a single entity.
Some preliminary work began last summer (2020), with full construction starting this spring (2021). The completion date for the South project has been updated to 2024 to accommodate the regulatory process that was required to relocate the ENMAX transmission lines, as well as considerations for the COVID-19 pandemic.
The South project includes:
Alberta Transportation’s highway design standards set out minimum distances between freeway interchanges for accelerating and decelerating. This is related to the ability to safely maintain desired speeds on the freeway while also providing enough space to speed up and merge or slow down and exit. The spacing between 17 Avenue S.W., Bow Trail S.W. and Old Banff Coach Road S.W. does not safely allow for full directional access interchanges at Old Banff Coach Road S.W. and 17 Avenue S.W.
The interchanges at Bow Trail S.W. and the Trans-Canada Highway provide all movements. The half interchanges at Old Banff Coach Road S.W. and 17 Avenue S.W. provide access to and from the north and south respectively. This design allows Stoney Trail to safely function as a freeway as intended, while also providing reasonable access to the adjacent road network and lands.
Why are the movements limited at the 17 Avenue S.W. and Old Banff Coach Road S.W. interchanges?
In Alberta, all provincial highways are assigned a Service Classification, which identifies the relative strategic importance of each highway in the network, and a Functional Classification, which identifies the core function of the roadway segment and whether access to adjacent land or mobility is prioritized.
These classifications determine how funds are allocated to the construction of infrastructure and how roadway segments are designed.
There are four Service Classification levels, numbered 1 through 4, with Level 1 classification given to the most strategically important highways. Level 1 highways accommodate the efficient movement of people, goods and services inter-provincially and internationally. They connect Alberta’s major population centres to key destinations outside the province and typically serve long trip lengths. All Level 1 highways are also core routes in the National Highway System.
There are five categories that describe the core function of the roadway in terms of its emphasis on mobility versus access: Freeway, Expressway, Arterial, Collector and Local. Freeways are intended to provide free-flow traffic and are therefore the most restrictive in terms of access.
Figure A-2-3-3-1a Core Roadway Function Chart , page 12, Chapter A, Alberta Transportation Highway Geometric Design Guide
The Calgary Ring Road is a Level 1 (Service Classification) Freeway (Functional Classification). Its core function is mobility, which means that choices about the road design prioritize mobility over access.
For more information about these classifications, please see Alberta Transportation’s Highway Geometric Design Guide .
Balancing Access and Mobility
In the specific context of the interchanges at Old Banff Coach Road S.W. and 17 Avenue S.W., there are two conditions that have resulted in the design being constructed today.
The design standards referenced in the previous section set out minimum distances between freeway interchanges for accelerating and decelerating. This is related to the ability to safely maintain desired speeds on the freeway while also providing enough space to speed up and merge or exit and slow down. The spacing between 17 Avenue S.W., Bow Trail S.W. and Old Banff Coach Road S.W. does not safely allow for full directional access interchanges at Old Banff Coach Road S.W. and 17 Avenue S.W.
The interchanges at both Bow Trail S.W. and the Trans-Canada Highway provide for all movements. The half interchanges at Old Banff Coach Road S.W. and 17 Avenue S.W. provide access to and from the north and south respectively. This design allows Stoney Trail to safely function as a freeway as intended, while also providing reasonable access to the adjacent road network and lands.
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Will traffic be allowed to use the interchanges as they are completed, similar to the Southwest Calgary Ring Road?
Full completion of the West Calgary Ring Road is expected in 2024. Until construction is completed, each project is under the care and control of the contractor completing the work.
Alberta Transportation understands Albertans are eager to use the West Calgary Ring Road. The open-to-traffic dates will be based on the safety of those working on site and the driving public. The road will be opened to traffic once the project has been successfully completed, which includes ensuring all safety considerations have been appropriately addressed.
Information about detours, traffic pattern changes and other construction impacts is shared with the public as it becomes available. Sign up for the weekly newsletter to stay informed.
Where can we expect construction and traffic impacts this year?
The 2021 construction season will be a busy across the entire South project. Grading and utility work will be ongoing across the site and bridge construction will be ongoing at 17 Avenue S.W., Bow Trail S.W. and Old Banff Coach Road S.W.
The nature of a design-build project does not provide long lead times for traffic impacts; however, any major traffic impacts will be communicated in advance. As details on construction and traffic changes become available, they will continue to be shared with the public in the weekly newsletter and on westringroad.ca.
Alberta Transportation’s noise guidelines outline the conditions for noise attenuation in cities and urban areas. Noise attenuation will be considered if noise levels exceed a 24-hour weighted average of 65 decibels. These noise levels are determined by noise studies that consider roadway design, topography and anticipated traffic volumes to model, or predict, future levels. The future noise levels are used to determine if noise attenuation is warranted based on the provincial noise guidelines.
A noise study for the South project will be completed once the road design has been finalized and assessed again after the project is complete and traffic patterns have normalized. Noise attenuation will be provided if either of these studies indicate it is warranted or enhanced if noise levels are greater than anticipated.
Further information will be shared with the public when available.
More information on noise attenuation is available at westringroad.ca > Noise Guidelines & Mitigation.
I’m concerned about safety at the roundabout on 17 Avenue S.W. east of Stoney Trail.
Modern roundabouts are one of the safest forms of intersection control. The number and severity of collisions are generally reduced (compared to traditional intersections) due to fewer conflict points, lower vehicle travelling speeds and deflection angle (right angle and head on collisions are significantly reduced or eliminated as a result of vehicles entering a roundabout on a gentle angle).
Additionally, roundabouts improve the environmental efficiency of a roadway by eliminating the need to stop (reduces fuel consumption) and wait (idling) at a traffic light.
Given the improvement to safety and reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, roundabouts are being utilized more frequently across Alberta. Drivers that are unfamiliar with roundabouts are encouraged to learn more about how to use them using the links provided below.
What type of accommodation will be made for active transportation modes?
The scope of the West Calgary Ring Road includes east-west pedestrian and cyclist access at the Old Banff Coach Road S.W., Bow Trail S.W. and 17 Avenue S.W. interchanges to cross Stoney Trail. Additionally, a north-south pathway connection will be provided under Bow Trail S.W. All the planned pathways will meet the requirements for barrier free accessibility.
Pathways constructed as part of the West Calgary Ring Road will connect to existing pathway infrastructure whenever possible. A conceptual alignment for a future Multi-Use Trail (MUT) along the east side of the Transportation Utility Corridor has been identified. Similar to other segments of the ring road, this MUT will not be developed prior to completion of this section in 2024 and will be funded by others.
A preliminary plan showing the proposed pathway connections is available at westringroad.ca > pedestrians & cyclists.
What are the plans for landscaping and when will they be available?
Work on the WCRR is occurring within the Transportation Utility Corridor (TUC), which is land set aside to house the ring road, major power lines, pipelines and linear municipal utilities such as phone and internet lines. Tree roots can damage underground utilities, tree canopies can interfere with overhead utility lines and the trees themselves can become a roadway hazard.
When the landscaping plans are available, they will be shared with the public for information.
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