Calgarians who drive on Crowchild Trail celebrated a finished construction project Saturday at the unveiling of the Flanders Avenue Interchange, which will be open at rush hour on Monday, Oct. 31. While initial feedback suggests the design is confusing, officials say drivers will appreciate the impact on traffic flow.
The city hosted a party on the bridge over Crowchild Trail to show off the new design Saturday morning, which includes three roundabouts and double the number of vehicle lanes.
“The dual roundabout design—OK maybe a little bit confusing but we will figure it out—will allow traffic to flow efficiently,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said. “There are no traffic lights in any direction and the multiuser pathway helps provide a safe and comfortable space for walkers and cyclists.”
Canada Lands senior director of real estate Chris Elkey also acknowledged it may not be the most straightforward design, but championed the project as “definitely unique” and said the signage will help.
“It’s innovative,” Elkey said. “I don’t think there’s another piece of infrastructure in the City of Calgary like this.
“We’ve heard from Calgarians that it may be confusing but I think that the first trip through here, people will realize that it’s very easy to navigate.”
The area has been under construction for the past year with detours and delays for drivers on Crowchild.
The $35-million interchange is a joint project between the City of Calgary and the Canada Lands Company, which is behind the development of the former Currie Barracks site. Canada Lands Company fronted the cost of the project, of which the city will pay back $20 million.
Nenshi said it’s not typical to see partnerships between municipal and federal government on such infrastructure, “particularly not through a federal government agency like Canada Lands.”
The interchange will help deal with increased traffic that’s expected to come as the area is set to become home to 12,000 people over the next ten years.
“It provides for greater capacity of vehicles but also for pedestrian connections and cyclist connections to Currie and the other neighbourhoods in the area,” Elkey said.
The reduced speed limit on that part of Crowchild will still be in effect for the next couple of weeks, as the finishing touches are made on the project.
With files from Carolyn Kury de Castillo