Calgary

Major upgrades to Deerfoot Trail to bring more lanes, better interchanges

A major expansion to Deerfoot Trail will include more lanes, improved interchanges and 21 kilometres of new northbound and southbound lanes

21 km of new north and southbound lanes should help ease bottlenecks in key areas

An average of 175,000 vehicles use Calgary's Deerfoot Trail every day. The province plans to spend $478 million to improve flow on the busiest freeway in Alberta. (CBC Calgary)

A major expansion to Deerfoot Trail will include more lanes, improved interchanges and 21 kilometres of new northbound and southbound lanes, Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason announced Thursday.

The $478-million investment will address the areas of Deerfoot where the most congestion and bottlenecks happen — Anderson/Bow Bottom Trail, Southland Drive and Glenmore Trail — and the overall goal is to improve traffic flow and ease congestion.

The province says it has set aside cash for the project in its capital plan and expects it will create roughly 2,300 jobs during construction. The project is estimated to take at least four to five years to complete.

Construction isn't scheduled to get underway until 2023. "There is a great deal of preliminary work that must be done," Mason said.

"Twenty-one kilometres of new lanes, both northbound and southbound will be added between Beddington Trail, and Anderson and Bow Bottom Trail," Mason said.

175,000 vehicles a day

The Deerfoot is the busiest freeway in Alberta, with an average of 175,000 vehicles using it every day. And then there's rush hour.

Ward 12 Coun. Shane Keating says the upgrades are long overdue — and should proceed regardless of who wins the upcoming election.

"Any future party who decides that that need is not important will diminish it or get rid of it, they will see the results in the next election," Keating said. "This isn't a whimsical idea put forward and say, 'let's do this for the election,' this has been talked about for decades and I would hope that any government coming in would realize that."

Commuter headaches

For commuter Harry Ediger, who purposely avoids Deerfoot Trail, the investment in infrastructure will be worth it.

"If you drive to the airport going north, you see all the people coming in from Airdrie and it's a lineup," he said. "So, it's needed."

Kaitlin Gourlie takes the Deerfoot every day to get to work.

"Like Southland, and then getting to like, Bow Bottom or staying on Deerfoot, it's always a mess," she said.

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