West LRT construction kicks off traffic headaches
The city is warning drivers to get ready for major gridlock next week — and for the next three years — as construction begins on Calgary's long-awaited west LRT line.
Starting Monday, construction on the light-rail transit project gets going on Bow Trail and 17th Avenue S.W., two major routes connecting the west end to the city's core.
City officials are already warning of significant delays during peak hours beginning with the north side of Bow Trail between 24th and 33rd Streets. Turning lanes on 17th Avenue S.W. at 35th and 37th Streets will be temporarily closed.
"Bow Trail in the afternoon peak period will feel the crunch with that lane restriction on westbound. Seventeenth Avenue will have probably longer impacts with respect to the construction," said Jon Halford, west LRT project director.
He advised commuters to consider carpooling, taking public transit, cycling or walking as alternatives to the frustration of traffic jams.
"Certainly then if you can alter your travel times, that would be another thing. Avoid the peak periods and then expect that there are going to be significant delays," said Halford.
The west leg of the LRT will chug up the middle of Bow Trail at street level, head underground as it swings south onto 17th Avenue at 33rd Street and then rumble back to ground level at 41st Street.
To inform motorists, the city will:
- Put up signs announcing detours and delays.
- Install six traffic cameras along the route so drivers can monitor road conditions before heading out.
- Utilize social media sites like Twitter to post the most updated information.
Dust, noise, vibration, heavy equipment and traffic pattern changes will be the norm during construction, said city officials.
Construction of the eight-kilometre line, which ends at 69th Street, is slated to finish in November 2012.
The west LRT is the city's first light-rail transit line in 20 years, since the northwest line was built to the University of Calgary in 1987.