March 14, 2019 1:37 pm
Updated: March 14, 2019 6:50 pm

Deerfoot Trail expansion: New lanes to be added to 21 km of road

WATCH: The provincial government announced upgrades and improvements for Calgary's busiest roadway Thursday. As Jenna freeman reports, it's a half-billion-dollar project with shovels expected to hit the ground in 2023.

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Some major upgrades are coming to Calgary’s Deerfoot Trail.

The province announced on Wednesday that new northbound and southbound lanes would be added to 21 kilometres of the roadway between Beddington Trail and Anderson/Bow Bottom Trail, in an effort to improve traffic flow and ease congestion.

Multiple interchanges will also be upgraded with additional lanes, including Memorial Drive, 17 Avenue, Glenmore Trail, Southland Drive and Anderson/Bow Bottom Trail.

The upgrades are expected to start in 2023 and were based off a study completed in 2017 that pointed to five short-term improvements to make the roadway safer and more efficient.

In a news release, Alberta Minister of Transportation Brian Mason said Deerfoot is a “vital artery” for Calgary but has become “increasingly congested.”

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“Everyone who drives this road will appreciate this expansion plan,” Mason said. “We want commuters to spend less time in traffic, and more time with their families and loved ones.”

READ MORE: Deerfoot Trail study recommends 5 short-term improvements

Deerfoot Trail first opened to the public in 1971 and has been a full freeway since 2005, at which time Calgary had a population of one million residents. The population is now approaching 1.3 million, not including nearby communities like Airdrie, Chestermere, Okotoks and Cochrane.

Average daily traffic ranges from 83,000 vehicles per day at the south end to 170,000 vehicles per day north of Memorial Drive.

Deerfoot is the city’s most-used north-south vehicle corridor, and the province said the upgrades will transform it into a “modern freeway” that meets both the current and future needs of the city.

“These improvements to Deerfoot Trail have been long awaited by Calgarians,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said. “This substantial investment from the Government of Alberta will go a long way in improving the traffic flow and safety.”

The province expects the expansion will create 2,330 jobs and said $478 million for the project has already been allocated.

– With files from Jenna Freeman

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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