Deerfoot Trail traffic fix delayed indefinitely
Province says no improvements while city studies entire Deerfoot corridor
Plans to improve traffic flow along Deerfoot Trail in the city's south end are being shelved because Alberta Transportation says the plan no longer makes sense.
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"Yes, I'm very disappointed," said Ward 14 Coun.Peter Demong.
"The constituents are very concerned about that bottleneck. There's a basket-weave that causes a lot of backup in the morning and it causes a lot of people concern," he added.
The province had wanted to improve the traffic flow for an estimated 60,000 commuters who use that section of the Deerfoot every weekday morning.
There were plans to add a northbound lane right after the Anderson Road turnoff, and to modify the Southland Drive interchange,
"Simply to re-arrange the Southland Drive access so you didn't have as extreme a basket-weave was a very fiscally prudent way to go about it. It didn't cost a lot of money from a transportation point of view," Demong said.
CBC News has learned the province has decided to shelve the project.
"It would be foolish to proceed with a project when your assumptions are already proven incorrect," said Garry Lamb of Alberta Transportation.
The city is set to launch a three-year study of Deerfoot Trail.
It's been almost 20 years since the last study of the north-south corridor was done. The city wants to examine every aspect of the freeway from Stoney Trail in the north to Highway 22X in the south.
"That really changes what can be done with these improvements, so the design we had advanced to tender-ready stage really became outdated by some new information," Lamb said.
Deerfoot corridor study
It will examine how the road should look in 30 years factoring in the southeast Light Rapid Transit (LRT) line, the ring road and a much larger population, according to Calgary's general manager of transportation Mac Logan.
"Do we restrict trucks to certain lanes? It's not just about building a bigger road, it's about how we manage it," Logan said.
"How we can use more technology to squeeze more capacity out of the roadway, manage it for special uses [or] respond to accidents," he said.
The city will look at where lanes needed to be added because of capacity constraints, such as the Glenmore-Deerfoot Trail squeeze in the southwest.
"We have the squeeze there, obviously, we need some more capacity there but there's other things — as you mentioned HOV (high occupancy vehicle) lanes. Is that the right way to go?" said Logan.
Land sale may factor in
The upside is the ultimate design might be an improvement from the 2013 plan, according to Lamb who says the gravel pit operation run by Lafarge in the area is expected to close eventually and the province may be able to purchase land for a wider right of way.
After the design was complete in 2013, and with the massive flood that hit Calgary the same year, Lafarge sold its property to Remington Development Corporation and will eventually leave.
A land title search for the property shows Remington Development Corporation purchased the Lafarge site in September 2013.
Lafarge now appears to be leasing the property from Remington, and it's unclear how much Remington paid for the land. The city assessed the property at $1,27 million.
It's also unclear what Remington is going to do with the land. Company president Cody Clayton told CBC News in an email that "Remington is not able to comment on your story at this time."
Improvements to take time
Remington is also involved in the Quarry Park project, a large mixed-use development across from the Lafarge site.
Lafarge, a Paris-based concrete and cement giant, also did not respond to CBC's request for a comment.
A spokesperson for the family that operates the Riverside Golf Park driving range north of the Lafarge operation believes the company is already winding down operations and will vacate the site within a year.
Lamb says the land ownership change could open up new design possibilities to ease congestion along that section of Deerfoot.
"We were constrained by the land ownership issues. So if we have the opportunity to acquire more right of way in that area we can make the improvements work even better than what we anticipated doing so we want to make that piece correct," he said.
But the downside is that any improvements could be years off.
Deerfoot commuters will have to wait to see the new plan, which could resurrect a decades old plan that envisioned another bridge over the Bow River. It would be built alongside the existing Ivor Strong crossing adjacent to the Enmax substation near Douglasdale.