The West Calgary Ring Road

Though the route of the southwest ring road through the Tsuut’ina reserve has in recent years garnered the most attention of the unfinished portions of Calgary’s bypass network, there are actually two additional pieces of infrastructure needed to complete the ring. Aside from the south leg, which extends the road to Macleod Trail in the south, there is also the West Calgary Ring Road, defined as the portion of the road that connects the Trans Canada Highway to Highway 8. This is the piece that I will cover here.

Early West Side Planning

1956-2009_west_ring_road

The earliest complete plans for a ring road around Calgary, dating from 1956, plotted much of the western leg of the circuit along the 53rd street SW corridor, better known today as Sarcee Trail. While the route to the north and south of this leg would undergo revisions, this western portion would remain largely unchanged for nearly 30 years, and the road would continue to be planned along the Sarcee Trail corridor until the mid 1980s. Continue reading “The West Calgary Ring Road”

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A Brief History of the Southeast Calgary Ring Road

The opening of the southeast Calgary ring road in November marked not only the completion of over three years of construction, but also of the fulfillment of a goal first set out by the Province of Alberta nearly 60 years earlier.

1955-2013_SE(A progression of bypass proposals for East Calgary is shown above)

Early Bypasses

In the 1950s, when bypass plans were first considered for the Calgary area, the city’s main arterial roads radiated from the core, and the primary bridges over the City’s rivers were largely located downtown. To access the industrial southeast, residents living in the new suburbs of the northwest and southwest would have to drive through or near the increasingly congested core. In order to allow drivers not bound for downtown to bypass central Calgary, and in order to allow long-range travelers to connect between major highways without adding to the congestion of the city, several bypass roads would be proposed that would avoid the city centre. These early bypass plans would include such a facility along the city’s southeastern edge.

Continue reading “A Brief History of the Southeast Calgary Ring Road”

SW Ring Road Signing

At a ceremony today, held at the Tsuut’ina Seven Chiefs Sportsplex, the 2013 ring road agreement was signed by Tsuut’ina Chief Roy Whitney, Premier Alison Redford and Transportation Minister Ric McIver.

2013_signing(Picture courtesy of Parker Hogan, Alberta Transportation)

Noting the agreement signifies the beginning of a long friendship between the Province and the Nation, McIver stated that the name of the road will be chosen by the Tsuut’ina, and that the project will include Tsuut’ina motifs. Chief Whitney noted that discussions of the ring road through the Nation have been ongoing for ‘over 60 years’, and that the project will bring benefits for the language, culture and economics of the Nation. He also characterized the agreement as probably the most important modern event in the history of the Tsuut’ina.

photo (2)

(Picture courtesy of Amy Lonsberry)

The signing of the agreement marks a historic milestone in the development of this road, and has moved the Southwest Calgary Ring Road project forward with the next steps involving the approval of the federal government. McIver stated in a press release “We will work in partnership with the Tsuut’ina Nation and the federal government to proceed with the land transfer. This work will be guided by a committee with representatives from all parties and we will continue to work together in good faith.”

Once the land transfers have been enacted, the Province will have seven years to complete the opening phase of the southwest ring road.

Southwest Ring Road Deal Accepted by Tsuut’ina Nation

Several media outlets are reporting that in a vote held on Thursday, October 24 2013, the Tsuut’ina Nation voted in favour of accepting a deal to sell and trade reserve land to the Province of Alberta for the Southwest Ring Road. While the results will not be officially announced until midday on Friday, at a press conference to be held by Chief Roy Whitney, the agreement is reported to have been accepted with around 68% of the vote.

The details of the deal have yet to be revealed, though a separate press conference set to be held at 2pm Friday afternoon by Transportation Minister Ric McIver and Premier Alison Redford may contain more information about the agreement. The acceptance of this deal marks a historic agreement between the Province and the Tsuut’ina Nation, on a project first detailed to the public nearly 60 years ago.

On Friday, November 18 1955 Minister of Highways Gordon Taylor addressed the Calgary Chamber of Commerce at the Palliser Hotel with an update of the highways program for the upcoming year. Among the talk of highways and interchanges was mention of a bypass road that would connect the Macleod Trail with the still-under-construction Trans Canada Highway. This road had two proposed routes, including an ambitious long-range plan that would have seen the road travel west along Anderson Road, then north across the Elbow River west of the reservoir. While the route would change and the City would grow, the first public seeds of the Southwest Ring Road were sewn on that day.

Much work will be required over the next few years before a Southwest Ring Road is completed, but it would seem that the groundwork has been laid for both the road itself and future developments on the reserve that will follow.

Details about the road design and the agreement will be covered when they are released.

The Southwest Calgary Toll Road

The Tsuu T’ina are holding an election today (November 26 2012) for Chief and Councillors, and naturally the issue of the ring road has been among the forefront of the issues being raised.

Two of the contenders for the position of Chief, current Councillor Ivan Eagletail and former-Chief Roy Whitney, have at one point or another been on record as favouring a toll road payable to the Tsuu T’ina Nation in order for the Southwest Calgary Ring Road to be allowed through the reserve. While Eagletail made his support known recently, Whitney last mentioned support for the toll concept over a decade ago. Though this type of deal may be a departure from the current proposals, it is not a new idea for this road. Continue reading “The Southwest Calgary Toll Road”

Tunneling the Weaselhead

If you can’t go around it, and you don’t want to go through or over it, what’s left? Going under it.

The tunneling of the Weaselhead was alluded by the Province of Alberta in 2011. Their  ‘Plan B’ for a southwest Calgary ring road alternative route that did not require land from the Tsuu T’ina identified several non-traditional concepts for road building, including tunneled and elevated highway construction. However, the idea of a tunnel in the Weaselhead area is not new; it was first mentioned publicly almost 40 years ago. But while tunneling may technically be an option, is it realistic?

 

Continue reading “Tunneling the Weaselhead”

Ric McIver

On April 23 2012, Ric McIver was elected as MLA to represent the Provincial riding of Calgary-Hays, and on May 8, he was appointed by Premiere Alison Redford to the position of Transportation Minister. As Transportation Minister, he will be in charge of the direction and decision-making involved in the southwest portion of the Calgary ring road. His well-known stance of supporting a road through the Weaselhead along 37th street SW has caused concern for some Calgary residents who are intent on preserving that natural area. However, this stance is not quite as straight-forward as it might seem.

Despite being a rookie MLA, Ric McIver has a great deal of experience with the ring road issue, having served as Calgary’s Ward 12 Alderman for 9 years. In that time, he was active in the City’s role in establishing a road in the southwest part of the city.

Continue reading “Ric McIver”