Crowchild Trail upgrades including interchanges, bridge and tunnel get green light from committee

It's a plan that could ultimately cost more than $1 billion and could take decades to complete. City council's transportation and transit committee gave the blueprint for revamping Crowchild Trail its unanimous seal of approval on Wednesday.

Blueprint includes short- and long-term changes to busy roadway

This section of Crowchild Trail will undergo a massive transformation under a plan approved by a council committee on Wednesday. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

It's a plan that could ultimately cost more than $1 billion and could take decades to complete.

City council's transportation and transit committee gave the short-, medium- and long-term plan for Crowchild Trail its unanimous seal of approval on Wednesday.

The blueprint for dealing with chronic congestion covers the area from 17th Avenue S.W. up to 24th Avenue N.W.

It envisions several new interchanges, a new bridge across the Bow River and burying Crowchild from Kensington Road to University Drive.

The short-term plan calls for additional lanes on current bridges over the Bow, a re-aligned Crowchild-Memorial interchange and new ramps from 10th Avenue to cut down on weaving traffic.

The plan comes out of a two-year study, one its manager calls one of the largest and most complex transportation studies ever done by the city.

Huge public interest

Feisal Lakha told the committee 3,400 people attended over 100 engagement events and the city received over 29,000 online comments.

"We had many difficult conversations with Calgarians, none more so than with Calgarians whose homes and businesses were identified as being impacted by the final plans," said Lakha.

One of the groups that will be affected by an expanded Crowchild is St. Pius X Catholic church on 24th Avenue. Ramps for a new interchange will cut into the church's parking lot.

June Bergman, who chairs the parish pastoral council at St. Pius, told the committee that while the city has reduced the amount of land it needs, the church could still lose 21 per cent of its parking lot.

"Although significant improvements have been made to the original proposed layout, in our opinion there remains significant risk to the ongoing operation of our parish as a result," she said.

Bergman said besides the loss of parking spaces, there will be less parking on neighbouring streets, additional traffic noise and concerns about pedestrian safety on 24th Avenue — not to mention the inconvenience caused by the construction phase.

The committee did direct administration to help the church acquire nearby property to assist with its parking requirements.

The committee heard other public suggestions on how to improve the plan.

Land bridge park idea floated

Scarboro resident Harvey Bernbaum suggested the city look at building a land bridge over Crowchild and re-connect the divided communities of Scarboro and Shaganappi between 17th Avenue and Sunalta School.

He said it could be an attractive park that would also reduce noise from the busy roadway.

"We think it's a bold idea that maybe the city could get behind and it would do well for the city to take leadership in providing a green solution to a freeway that's a problem," said Bernbaum.

Lakha, the project manager, said Bernbaum's idea would not be technically feasible, but he did commit to look at a smaller land bridge project which could improve access between the two communities.

City council will debate the Crowchild plan at an upcoming meeting.