Grand opening starts Saturday at noon featuring Mayor Naheed Nenshi and Ward 3 Coun. Jim Stevenson.

Celebration includes:

  • Classic car Show ‘n Shine (registration full)
  • Entertainers/live music
  • Food trucks
  • Displays by police, fire, EMS, transit

Calgary's long-awaited airport tunnel will open to traffic this Sunday morning but residents will get a chance to walk through the structure during an official opening event on Saturday.

The event will run 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. MT, with shuttle bus access provided from McKnight-Westwinds C-Train station. No vehicles will be allowed on site.

It's also a chance to see many of the things you otherwise won't notice while driving through the tunnel. I'll get to some of those in a moment but for now, here's the airport tunnel — by the numbers.

The tunnel 

  • Total build cost: $294.8 million
  • Operation from June to December 2014: $475,000
  • Full-year operation estimate: $1 million
  • Insurance policy: $1 billion (annual premium $500,000 — part of estimated $1 million operating cost)
  • Tunnel length: 620 metres
Airport tunnel rendering

The above picture is the city's rendering of the complete airport tunnel. (City of Calgary)

The politics

  • City council vote when tunnel was approved in February 2011: 8-7
  • Of the eight in favour, the following are still on council: (Mayor Naheed Nenshi, Jim Stevenson, Ray Jones, Richard Pootmans, Gian-Carlo Carra, Andre Chabot, ​Shane Keating and Peter Demong)
  • Of the seven opposed, three still remain on council: (Diane Colley-Urquhart, Druh Farrell and Brian Pincott)

The lanes

  • Number of lanes in tunnel: 6 (3 in each cell (or side) of the tunnel)
  • Width of each side in metres: 17 
  • Vehicle height clearance in metres: 5.3
Airport Tunnel map

The airport tunnel will connect Barlow Trail to 36th Street N.E. The city would like to see the road connect to Métis Trail before eventually connecting to Stoney Trail, or Calgary's ring road. (City of Calgary)

The route

  • Tunnel goes under: 1 runway and 3 taxiways
  • Future LRT? C-Train track could be put down on the inside lane in each side of tunnel
  • Tunnel is made of 50 sections totalling 58,000 cubic metres of concrete and 12,000 tonnes of steel
  • Concrete pour: February to October 2012
  • Thickness: walls: 1 metre, floor slab: 1.5 metres 
Airport tunnel lanes

The tunnel will open with three lanes for traffic on Sunday. Eventually it will have four lanes that will allow for C-Train commuters. (City of Calgary)

The extras

  • Electrical conduit in kilometres: 45
  • Number of 100 horsepower fans to clear smoke and exhaust from tunnel: 32
  • Each fan unit weight in kilograms: 570
  • Each fan unit length in metres: 5.6
  • Fire extinguishers, dry standpipe (water) and fire hose: every 75 metres in each side of tunnel
  • Lights: 1,380 halophane metal halide fixtures
  • Electricity supply: From 2 different sub-stations in Calgary so guaranteed power at all times

The scale

  • Tunnel can support heaviest planes in world: Airbus A380 and Antonov 225 (600,000 kilograms)
  • Wireless sensors embedded in concrete to measure temperature and movement: 40
  • Time to drive through tunnel at 70 km/hr in seconds: 32
Airport tunnel specs

Concrete work on the structure itself began with the installation of footings followed by forming and casting of the tunnel walls and roof. A total of 50 concrete sections were poured. Each tunnel section required 850 cubic metres of concrete which was delivered by about 80 trucks over a 12-hour period. (City of Calgary)