2009 Southwest Calgary Ring Road Design: Ultimate Stage

(For information about the 2013 ring road agreement including maps, click here)

The 2009 Southwest Calgary Ring Road plan was the culmination of not just 5 years of study and negotiation, but of decades of transportation plans. While the negotiations were rejected by the Tsuu T’ina in June of 2009, that agreement will form the basis of the current negotiations. Both parties have stated that while the terms of the agreement need work, the road and alignment would not change in the renewed negotiations. But what exactly did the plan entail?

The 2009 Plan was initiated in 2004, with the signing of an ‘Agreement in Principle’ by Premiere Ralph Klein and Chief Sandford Big Plume, followed in 2005 by the signing of a ‘Final Framework for Infrastructure’. This Framework agreement set the stage for the Province to begin the work of determining a route, planning the road and negotiating for the land required.

While the design plans for most of the Stoney Trail (the Calgary Ring Road) calls for a road of 2-4 lanes in each direction (4-8 lanes total) the Southwest portion was designed to accomodate 16 lanes. The Tsuu T’ina agreed that if they were to sell land for a road, it would be done only once. Since the Province have long term plans for a second ‘Outer’ Ring Road around Calgary, and with no further opportunity to purchase more land from the Tsuu T’ina, the Southwest portion was to be designed to accomodate not only the 8 lanes from the current Stoney Trail Ring Road, but an additional 8 lanes for a future, ‘Outer’ Ring Road. The ‘Opening Day’ scenario details a road of 4-6 lanes, while the ‘Ultimate’ stage, not expected to be built for 50+ years, details a road of up to 16 lanes.

THE FUNCTIONAL PLANNING STUDY

Focus Engineering designed the road from about 2005 to about 2008, and did so with on behalf of the Province, with input from the City of Calgary, the Tsuu T’ina and stakeholder groups. The final road design is contained in the final Functional Planning Study (FPS) document.

Key Points of the 2009 Functional Planning Study:

  • 988 acres required from Tsuu T’ina
  • Route starts at Highway 8 and 101st street SW, heads east to Sarcee Trail, where it turns south. After crossing the Elbow River, it heads South-East until it reaches 37th street SW just north of Anderson Road. It then continues south to Highway 22x
  • 20km total length (excluding Glenmore Trail, 37th street, Old Strathcona Road, 90th avenue and Southland Drive extensions)
  • 4-6 lanes on ‘Opening Day’, expanding to 16 lanes in the ‘Ultimate’ Stage
  • 12 interchanges (including the 37th street/Glenmore interchange.)
  • 51 bridges (eight of which are river crossings, plus one existing bridge will be utilised)
  • 4 tunnels

(Almost all bridges, tunnels and earthworks would be built in the ‘Opening Day’ phase)

FUNCTIONAL PLANNING STUDY DIAGRAMS

The following diagrams are of the ‘Ultimate Stage’ of the Southwest Calgary Ring Road, taken from their Functional Planning Study. The number in the circles on the road indicate lane count. Please click on the images to see a much larger version. (Note the direction of North, as the orientation changes from diagram to diagram).

101st Street SW and Highway 8 to 69th Street SW. This section splits Stoney Trail (Calgary Ring Road) traffic from Highway 8 traffic. It includes the 69th street Interchange.

Westhills/Sarcee Trail/37th Street SW. This section includes several interchanges that were requested by the Tsuu T’ina, including an interchange for direct access to Westhills and the on-reserve interchange with Old Strathcona Road. The plans here also include the seemingly unrelated interchange of Glenmore Trail and 37th street SW, included to facilitate widening of Glenmore Trail, and for access to the Tsuu T’ina reserve. Access to Lakeview has been radically re-worked through ‘former’ reserve land, as 37th street SW from the community is cut off from Glenmore Trail.
Sarcee Trail South across the Elbow River. The Elbow river is significantly re-routed (dark blue, below), and a large section of the valley is filled in to create a more efficient and stable crossing point (from a transportation perspective). The road is within metres of the Weaselhead area. (More information about river crossing in a future article)
Elbow River to 90th Avenue SW and Southland Drive. Connections at both 90th avenue and Southland cannot be accommodated as the interchanges would be too close  to each other for a high-speed freeway. Instead, Southland has been extended north, and connected with 90th before 90th interchanges with the Ring Road. Traffic lights are provided along both 90th and Southland to provide access to Tsuu T’ina lands.
Anderson Road and 130th Avenue SW. 130th avenue is only a partial interchange; access to the Ring Road is limited to traffic that is heading to, or coming from, the south. Fish Creek is significantly re-routed.
Fish Creek to 146th Avenue SW to 162nd Avenue SW. Access is provided at 146th and 162nd for existing communities and for the future development of Providence. The 162nd interchange allows for a future East-West LRT line.
Highway 22X. The SW portion of the road finally interchanges with Highway 22X, and allows for a future connection south.
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