Crowchild Trail study to explore reversible lanes, transit hubs in next phase

Your traffic headaches on Crowchild Trail won't be solved by any major infrastructure projects like a new bridge or widening the roadway. But a study into the congested route is looking at eliminating left-hand turns at some intersections and improving transit.

Roundabouts, tunnelling under river rejected as solutions to bottleneck over Bow River

The Crowchild Trail Study is expected to be complete by the end of 2016. (CBC)

The city's effort to find a way to smooth out the traffic bottlenecks that build up daily on Crowchild Trail over the Bow River valley continued its third phase on Thursday with an open house at McMahon Stadium.

About 500 Calgarians have attended workshops, drop-in sessions and online forums since last October as part of the city's six-phase study to identify short-, medium- and long-term upgrades between 17th Avenue southwest and 24th Avenue northwest.

Nathan Peters, who uses Crowchild every day, says he has yet to hear of any great short-term solutions.

"You know you could reduce the left-hand turning during peak hours, I think that would be fine. Maybe only have left-hand turns at Fifth Avenue instead of Fifth Avenue and Kensington," he said.

"That would definitely improve the north-south traffic flow. But there are some pretty fundamental structural issues here and the real solutions I think are all long term."

Project manager Feisal Lakha says there have been other promising quick fixes suggested.

"The left turns was one, restricting through-movements as well, to ideas of maybe improving transit access and improving maybe some of the parallel routes for active modes. Things like cycle routes, pedestrian connections across Crowchild Trail."

What's in, what's out

According to the city's website, several ideas have been dismissed from consideration in phase four of the project:

  • Adding new intersection features such as four-way stops, roundabouts or an interchange at 26th Avenue.
  • Building an additional bridge west of Crowchild Trail, or a parallel bridge, or a new flyover bridge to West Village.
  • Widening all of Crowchild Trail to four or five lanes in each direction.
  • Tunnelling under the river.

The suggestions that have been chosen for further study in phase four include:

  • Improve transit service along Crowchild Trail, including new transit hubs at Bow Trail and the Banff Trail LRT station.
  • Improve walking and cycling connections along and across Crowchild Trail.
  • Upgrade adjacent parks and green spaces.
  • Improve noise attenuation to shield communities as traffic volumes increase.
  • Add measures such as high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes and reversible lanes.
  • A no-build scenario in which no changes are made to Crowchild Trail. The city lists the possible benefits of this strategy as having no impact on properties along the route, encouraging the use of alternative transportation, and no extra capital expenditure. 

But the city's website also says, according to its preliminary findings, the no-build option would create rush-hour conditions throughout the day, slow down response times for emergency responders and push more traffic into neighbouring communities.

The Crowchild Trail Study is expected to be complete by the end of 2016. 

Recommendations from the study, if approved by council, will identify specific upgrades to be prioritized for funding through the city's 10-year transportation infrastructure investment plan.

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