Constant stream of trucks still tangle northwest Calgary intersection

In a span of about 20 seconds, a veritable convoy of massive vehicles — two cement trucks, two dump trucks and two tandem gravel trucks — rumble one after the other around a left turn from 112th Avenue onto Country Hills Boulevard N.W.

925 trucks drove through northwest Calgary intersection in 6 hours, according to most recent traffic count

Heavy commercial truck traffic in the northwest neighbourhood of Royal Oak has been a growing concern for residents. (Dave Will/CBC)

In a span of about 20 seconds, a veritable convoy of massive vehicles — two cement trucks, two dump trucks and two tandem gravel trucks — rumble one after the other around a left turn from 112th Avenue onto Country Hills Boulevard in Calgary's northwest.

The heavy truck traffic has long been a source of frustration for residents of nearby Royal Oak, who've grown weary of the noise and potential safety issues. 

"The drivers may be … on tight deadlines to get to where they're going and not being aware of their surroundings," said one of those residents, Kristen Trueman.

"I'm also concerned about the maintenance of the trucks. Are they well taken care of? Do we know that they're not going to topple over when they're taking that corner quite quickly so that they can beat the red light?"

This GIF shows a typical 'convoy' of trucks turning left at the intersection of 112th Avenue and Country Hills Boulevard. (Dave Will/CBC)

The bulk of the truck traffic comes from the Stoney Trail Aggregate Resource, often referred to as "the STAR pit" or the "Spy Hill gravel pit" on nearby 85th Street, which contains 130 million tonnes of sand and gravel.

"They've closed down the aggregate in southwest Calgary, so this is the main area for all of Calgary and the [outlying] area," said Ward 1 Coun. Ward Sutherland.

"The life cycle of these aggregates are over 50 years, so the pits have been here before the housing was, so it's been part of our life." 

925 trucks in 6 hours

The last traffic count by the city in 2016 saw 925 trucks make their way through the intersection in one day — and that's actually only during six hours, the morning, midday and afternoon rush hours.

The city has since invested $16 million to coax truckers eastbound on 112th Avenue N.W., away from the neighbourhood. Improvements included widening 112th to four lanes of traffic and a new interchange at Sarcee Trail and Stoney Trail.

"Since the road has been up, I know the traffic is down," said Sutherland, adding that the city will have firm numbers after a traffic count planned for later this year. "So we'll know the count before and after of what's happening."

Kristen Trueman, a resident of the Royal Oak neighbourhood in northwest Calgary, says she has safety concerns about the heavy truck traffic. (Dave Will/CBC)

But Trueman isn't convinced there has been enough of an improvement.

"During the week, it's very busy. There are probably about three to five trucks sitting at that light waiting to turn onto Country Hills Boulevard … any time I'm in that area," said Trueman.

"It would be great if the city would push the truckers to go the route that they developed for them, even if it adds five minutes."

Industry must be taken into account, councillor says

Sutherland says truck restrictions through the area aren't out of the question, but adds there has to be consensus with the industry.

"We need to have proven data to say these restrictions are necessary and then the second question is what are we doing in order to facilitate the industry, too?"

"The industry is there. They supply the city.… They were here before the community, but it has to be safe … so it's our responsibility to kind of balance the two."  - Ward 1 Coun. Ward Sutherland

A new dual turning lane is currently being installed on 85th Street south of the STAR pit to further encourage truckers to head east to Sarcee Trail and away from residential and retail traffic.

Sutherland says effectively dealing with the truck traffic remains a priority, albeit a work in progress.

"The industry is there. They supply the city. Without the gravel … we're not having construction or roads to begin with," said Sutherland. "They were here before the community, but it has to be safe … so it's our responsibility to kind of balance the two."  

This map by the City of Calgary shows improvements to Stoney Trail, Sarcee Trail and 112th Avenue that are designed to lure truckers eastbound, away from residential areas. (City of Calgary)