City of Calgary finishes complicated Crowchild Trail work

An aerial view of the new Crowchild Trail crossing the Bow River and Bow Trail following a $87-million, 3-year project.
An aerial view of the new Crowchild Trail crossing the Bow River and Bow Trail following a $87-million, 3-year project. Handout / City of Calgary

One of the most complicated roadway rehabilitation projects in Calgary’s history is now complete.

The Crowchild Trail upgrades began in the fall of 2017. The project included rehab and widening of the three bridges, the addition of northbound and southbound traffic lanes on land, the relocation and improvement of on- and off-ramps, and the addition and improvement of pathways.

Read more: Construction on Crowchild Trail likely to last longer than expected

“There’s been a number of unique challenges that the project team has had to overcome, starting with the rehabilitation of the bridge over the river, which includes essentially building bridges underneath of that bridge to get access to and extend the existing piers in the river …. all while not impacting the river below,” said Jeff Baird, a City of Calgary transportation engineer.

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The bridge and roadwork was done while also allowing for 100,000 cars to pass through per day.

Click to play video 'Crowchild construction causing commuter headaches' Crowchild construction causing commuter headaches
Crowchild construction causing commuter headaches

“What a great day,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Tuesday. “It’s finally done, and I really want to thank Calgarians for their patience through this project.”

Improving commutes — including getting on and off the Memorial Drive, Bow River or Bow Trail bridges — was a goal for the $87-million project, Nenshi said.

“Motorists traveling from southwest to northwest Calgary or into the core using Crowchild Trail will see an extraordinary improvement in their travel times and in how well and how well their commute works.”

Crews had to work on decades-old infrastructure in established communities, which presented challenges in getting crew and equipment to the areas of the bridges that needed rehabilitation. Work was done over two sets of train tracks and with minimal impact to the river habitat.

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The coronavirus pandemic shut down work for a time until construction workers were deemed essential in late March. Contractors put COVID-19 protocols in place for their workers on this project.

Read more: $1.5B Crowchild Trail upgrade given green light by transportation committee

“But we also looked at innovative ways to stage the project so that we could address potential supply chain issues and also take advantage of the reduced traffic volumes that were on the roads earlier this spring,” said Kerensa Swanson Fromherz, director of transportation infrastructure.

Click to play video 'Crowchild Trail construction update from the City of Calgary' Crowchild Trail construction update from the City of Calgary
Crowchild Trail construction update from the City of Calgary

According to the city’s transportation department, passenger vehicle traffic around the city dropped by 60 per cent in the last week of March compared with the first week.

Mayor Nenshi said the city took advantage of the reduction in traffic during the COVID-19 crisis to get a lot of the maintenance work done.

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“And I’m really happy to be able to do it because, as they say about Calgary, winter and construction are our two seasons.”

The mayor said the city continues its commitment to maintaining and improving existing road infrastructure, including the anticipated opening of the Southwest Ring Road.

“Our focus now is really on building out pinch points in the system and making sure that we’re really investing in those things that frustrate people on their commute every day,” he said.

While the major upgrade work on Crowchild Trail has been completed, crews still have to do finishing work, which could include temporary lane closures.