Calgary

New southwest ring road connections done, but you can't use them yet

The city has completed two key road extensions for the southwest ring road.

Lines painted, lights installed, but no driving on Southland Drive, 90th Avenue extensions until 2021

A community group wants to have a bike parade on the new roadway in the spring. (Mike Symington/CBC)

The city has completed two key road extensions for the southwest ring road.

However, until the ring road opens in 2021, these are effectively roads to nowhere.

On the bright side, at least the two roads can't be blamed for slowing down the ring road project.

The city agreed to extend 90th Avenue S.W. to meet up with the ring road and to link Southland Drive with 90th Avenue.

While the city did the work, the provincial government paid the $18.4 million cost of the extensions.

Construction can be unpredictable

The city's project manager for the two connections, Vina Hendra, said the work was done to ensure the roads are ready when the province cuts the ribbon on the southwest ring road.

She said there's no harm in being done early.

"Construction is always unpredictable," said Hendra. 

"We want to make sure that anything that we encounter that's unexpected doesn't become an issue, it doesn't become a potential delay for when the ring road is ready to be opened." 

Vina Hendra, project manager for the 90th Avenue and Southland Drive extensions, said the city was able to take advantage of lower construction costs by completing the project earlier. (Scott Dippel/CBC)

By completing these roads early before the ring road project is ready, the city was able to take advantage of lower construction costs.

As for why the roads are completely ready for traffic that won't arrive for two years, she said it just minimizes any work later.

No driving yet

There are no plans to let the public drive on the roads and they are also remaining closed for pedestrians and cyclists. Nearby pathways which were rerouted to go under both 90th Avenue and Southland Drive opened earlier this fall.

"If you drive by the roads, you'll see that we've put barricades to make sure that there's nowhere to go right now," said Hendra.

The city portions of the two roads will also not be available for use by construction crews for the ring road project.

This map, provided by the city, illustrates the 90th Avenue and Southland Drive extensions. Black roads illustrate the provincial portions, while city roads lead up to the black portions of both 90th Avenue and Southland Drive. (City of Calgary)

Once outside of the city's boundaries, both sides of Southland and 90th Avenue are expected to be lined by businesses by the Tsuut'ina Nation. 

No huge concerns: Farkas

The city councillor for the area said completing the roads so early is a bit unusual but doesn't raise any concerns for him.

"It's a bit weird to build a road to nowhere, but given the facts here, I don't think it's an issue," said Coun. Jeromy Farkas.

He said given how much road construction has been going on in the southwest part of his ward, he's glad this project is done.

"There won't need to be any more work here next year, which will be a nice reprieve for the residents. And since no maintenance is required, I don't see any real downside."

Although the roads are not open for any purpose, Farkas said he is working with the local community association that is interested in having a bike parade on the roads next spring.

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