A new interchange at Macleod Trail and 162 Avenue South opened on Sunday, but the city says its unique design may take some getting used to.
“Please don’t be on your phone or texting when you’re going through here the first time,” said Mac Logan, General Manger of Transportation for the City of Calgary. “Watch the road markings, pay close attention to the traffic lights and you’ll start to get to flow.”
The project is Canada’s first Diverging Diamond Interchange, and the city acknowledges it may seem strange for some drivers at first. While travelling through the interchange, traffic crosses briefly onto the opposite side of Macleod Trail.
“The only weird thing about it is there’s an intersection on either side and when you cross through the intersection onto the green, you very briefly end up driving on the left side of the road, so you feel like you’re in England,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said.
The city has produced the following animation to help explain how the interchange works.
The city hopes the new interchange will improve traffic flow through the area. Logan says until now, this intersection has been a troublesome bottleneck.
“The Macleod-162 was probably the biggest delay along Macleod Trail south of, say, Chinook Mall. The southbound queues were at least a kilometre long in the afternoon and the northbound queue was a kilometre long in the morning… any kind of accident could double those back ups.”
In total, 100,000 cars are expected to travel through the interchange every day. The cost of the project was $78 million; $13 million more than the city originally estimated. Construction will not be completely finished on the interchange until later this fall, and a 50km/hr speed limit will remain in effect until then.