The City of Calgary is rolling out what it considers the largest shuttle replacement service in its history as part of its plan to accommodate for a nine-day closure along the CTrain’s Red Line at the end of November.
CTrain service will be temporarily shut down between Chinook and City Hall/Bow Valley College stations starting after the evening commute on Nov. 24, with plans to restart again for the morning rush on Dec. 4.
The closure is prompted by the next phase of construction in the rebuilding of the Victoria Park/Stampede Station, and will allow crews to switch the line from the temporary track and platform currently in use to the new permanent track and upgraded station.
“In our history we’ve almost never had a planned weekday CTrain closure, and that’s something we don’t take lightly,” said Doug Morgan, the City of Calgary’s general manager of operational services.
In response to the significant closures, city officials unveiled plans for alternative transportation and parking on Monday.
Replacement shuttle buses are scheduled to depart every five minutes from Chinook to the City Hall/Bow Valley stations with stops at each of the closed stations along the way during transit’s regular service hours of 4 a.m. to 1 a.m.
City officials said additional shuttles would be put in place for the three Flames home games during the closure, as well as the Hitmen Teddy Bear Toss on Dec. 3.
City officials said there will be some impacts to bus routes in other areas as resources are pulled to support the replacement shuttles.
“We’re emptying all our garages, adjusting our maintenance schedules to provide maximum amount of vehicles out during this nine-day period,” Morgan told reporters.
There will also be approximately 1,000 parking spots made available for free at Heritage Park for customers to take the MAX Yellow route to the downtown core, or the MAX Teal route to Westbrook Station to connect with the Blue Line to get downtown.
Six hundred parking spots will also be made available at the Stampede Grounds for $7 per day.
According to the city, Calgary Transit is offering a 25-per cent discount on all monthly passes for December as a “thank you” to customers for patience during the closure.
The commuter headache will also extend to drivers as well, with periodic lane closures on northbound Macleod Trail during the closure. All three northbound lanes will be opened from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. each weekday to help traffic flow during the morning commute.
City officials are encouraging drivers take alternate routes into downtown during the closures.
“It is quite a substantive amount of work that’s going to happen in those nine days, and it also has to happen all at once,” said Claire LePan with the Calgary Municipal Land Corporation. “It wasn’t a scenario that we could do it in stages because of the power implications on the site and the nature of the work.”
LePan said work on the site will be 24 hours per day over the nine-day closure as the $103 million project enters its next phase; eventually, 17 Avenue will be extended onto the Stampede Grounds as part of the project.
“It’s really critical to opening up the whole district so that when the BMO Centre is complete and we see future development in the district like the event centre that that station is providing that new connection,” LePan said.
Although the construction is causing headaches for the business community in Victoria Park, a local business group said the pain will be worth it when the connections are complete.
“On balance, the inconvenience that we’re going to see over the nine days pales in comparison to the situation that we had before,” Victoria Park BIA executive director David Low told Global News.
“It will pinch a bit for sure, but well worth it in the long run.”