The City of Airdrie got an update on a regional transportation study and what the future could look like when it comes to the commute from Airdrie to Calgary.
With the city of Airdrie projected to grow two and a half times its current size to 155,000 residents over the next 30 years, having an overarching transportation plan is necessary.
Airdrie, Calgary and three other municipalities including Cochrane, Rocky View County and Chestermere have been working on the plan together, after a request from Alberta Transportation in 2016.
The North Calgary Regional Transportation study looks into corridor projects including the widening and creation of new or existing roads. Interchange projects which could include new or upgraded interchanges and flyovers. As well as transit projects which could include Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) or Light Rail Transit (LRT) projects.
The collaboration highlights a list of projects that should be made a priority over the next 10 years to ensure better connectivity. Of the top 10 projects, three of them involve roads in and around Airdrie.
That comes and no surprise to Mayor Peter Brown.
“What’s really exciting about that was that there’s a priority list that the province has set out and we’re not on that list, but compared to the other people on that list, some of those projects are on the [funded] list” Brown explained.
“It’s going to be really interesting to see how all that comes together.”
The project ranked number one would involve expanding and building out 8th Street in Airdrie to a four-lane roadway connecting to Balzac, and on to north Calgary. The thought is that road could eventually connect Airdrie to the Green Line LRT project being looked into by Calgary.
The project scoring second highest is the 40th Avenue and QEII interchange, a project the City of Airdrie has been advocating for, for more than a decade.
The final project that would directly impact Airdrie comes in at number four and would see the QEII Highway expanded to eight lanes between Stoney Trail and Yankee Valley Boulevard.
Expanding Highway 1A between Highway 22 and Gleneagles Drive to four lanes ranked third on the list.
The regional study suggests Rapid Bus Transit or an LRT system should be put in place to connect Airdrie and Calgary over the next 30 years.
“We’ve got one now with the ICE service and we connect into the Westwinds LRT,” Brown said. “Over time we’re hoping that there will be connectivity so you buy an Airdrie pass and you can pass onto the Calgary Transit. We haven’t been able to overcome that yet, but at the end of the day we’re working to overcome it.”
This study was initiated under the former NDP government, but Mayor Peter Brwon said he doesn’t believe the results or relevance of the study will be impacted by having a new party in power in the province.
“At the end of the day I think it’s going to be up to Premier Kenney and his team, there’s a number of new people, probably over 50 per cent of their caucus is brand new to government,” said Brown. “We’re going to have to be patient, this is really about wait-and-see.”
The project also suggests that over the longer term, a bypass highway may need to be created around Airdrie. The maps suggest the bypass could be located off the northeast corner of Stoney Trail, reconnecting to the QE2 highway near Crossfield.
According to the study, that bypass project is not yet warranted within the next 20 years, but is still in consideration for long term growth planning.