After years of negotiation and planning, preliminary work on building the southwest ring road from Glenmore Trail to Macleod Trail is finally under way. When completed, the new freeway is expected to have a huge impact on residential and transportation development in southwest Calgary.
With a completion deadline of fall 2021, the 31-kilometre link will include 14 interchanges and cut through the Tsuu T’ina Nation, west of Weaselhead Flats.
In July, the Tsuu T’ina announced a 20-year plan to build three major entertainment, commercial and business/health campus hubs along the freeway. This is in addition to planned commercial and industrial development outlined in the recently approved 2,000-acre (809 hectare) Providence Area Structure Plan, located south of Fish Creek and west of the ring road.
The project will also involve upgrades to Glenmore, including replacing the 37th Street interchange, says Garry Lamb, urban construction manager for Calgary with Alberta Transportation’s major capital projects branch. Construction on the ring road, he says, “will likely begin in a variety of locations – some areas will have virtually no impact on the travelling public, and some like Glenmore will.”
That said, Lamb notes the aim is to keep at least four lanes of traffic open on Glenmore between 37th and Sarcee Trail at all times. A new interchange at Glenmore and 69th Street S.W. is also part of the plan, on top of the major interchange planned at Sarcee.
All this new roadwork and infrastructure is expected to impact ongoing and future community development. Belmont by United Communities will be built south of where the ring road will intersect Macleod.
“Access is often the No. 1 priority for homebuyers, and the extension of the ring road will provide that for this entire area,” says Steve LePan, marketing director for United, which expects the 115-hectare community to house up to 9,000 residents (its first show homes open next year). “We’ve seen the benefits of the ring road in the north with our projects in Sage Hill and Nolan Hill and we anticipate similar effects of the ring road for Belmont.”
Future ring road access has been a selling feature for communities like Dressage in Silverado, says Maribeth Janikowski, manager of communications for Qualico Communities.
“People who move into these newer communities recognize some of the amenities and infrastructure will come later,” she says, adding residents will appreciate the additional accessibility the ring road will offer. Qualico, she says, also plans to have homes in Providence, and the ring road is also expected to impact Double Creek, a planned rural community just west of Calgary on Glenmore Trail. “It will be a huge benefit for the future,” Janikowski says.
John Hall, co-ordinator for Centre West Planning for the City of Calgary, says the new link will improve access to southeast Calgary, such as the South Health Campus and the industrial areas, and will take pressure off Macleod Trail.
Utility-relocation work began in July, with full construction expected to begin in the fall, pending a final agreement being signed with Mountain View Partners, Lamb says.
“I think (the development) will be mutually beneficial,” Ward 13 Coun. Diane Colley-Urquhart says with regards to the announced Tsuu T’ina hubs. “I’m really excited about the (planned) health innovation centre, which will be a guiding light for innovation.”
Ward 11 Coun. Brian Pincott says established communities will be impacted – plans call for 90thAvenue S.W to connect to the ring road and Southland Drive to loop north through one of the new Tsuut’ina developments and connect to 90th. A flyover-style interchange is also planned for Anderson Road, along with a northbound-only exit at 130th Avenue.
“People have expressed concern about traffic impact and people living on the west edge of Cedarbrae and Oakridge have concerns about noise,” Pincott says, adding, “we’re paying attention to make sure we’re anticipating all of that.”
Construction timing for the final piece of the ring-road puzzle, connecting Glenmore and Highway 1, has yet to be determined, Lamb adds.