Calgary's ring road delay may drive surprise costs

A council committee heard today the province's decision to delay the west section of Calgary's ring road will dump thousands of vehicles onto Sarcee Trail, and easing that congestion could cost up to $250 million.

Notley government delay for west ring road means new interchanges needed on Sarcee Trail

Completion of the ring road is at least seven years away, a provincial spokesman said Wednesday. (CBC)

A decision by the Notley government to delay the west ring road could mean a big bill for the City of Calgary.

The province intends to start construction of the southwest ring road in 2016 on land formerly owned by the Tsuut'ina Nation to be ready for traffic in 2021.

However, traffic from the newly-opened ring road will spill onto Glenmore Trail or Sarcee Trail because the west leg won't be done by then.

Coun. Richard Pootmans says that's a concern.

"Sarcee is almost at capacity — if not at capacity — right now."

The city's transportation and transit committee had a look on Wednesday at the options for dealing with that additional traffic. 

Depending on how many interchanges and other improvements that may be ultimately approved, the price tag could run from $70 million all the way up to $250 million.

A report spells out the need for a new interchange at Sarcee Trail and Richmond Road S.W.  

But other projects could include:

  •  Widening Sarcee Trail from Richmond Road to Bow Trail.
  •  Lane reversal on Bow Trail between Sarcee Trail and 37th Street S.W. 
  •  A major new interchange at Sarcee Trail and Bow Trail.

The committee voted to have the city continue discussions with the provincial government on its plans for the west ring road and to talk about the need for additional money for Sarcee Trail if that final leg of the ring road isn't completed at the same time as the southwest portion.

"We would hope that they would understand that it is a direct result from their infrastructure and therefore they should help us pay for it," said committee's chair Coun. Shane Keating.

Administration officials say if the west leg is delayed, then construction on an interchange at Sarcee Trail and Richmond Road should get underway in 2019 or 2020 to ensure it's ready for the completion of the southwest ring road in late 2021.

The city currently has that interchange on its list of unfunded projects; however, that list will be updated as part of its next budget cycle which would cover the years 2019-2022.


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