The future of Crowchild Trail will start to emerge early next year.
That’s when the city will issue its proposed redesign of the key traffic corridor, based on feedback obtained in public consultations this fall.
Ryan Murray, a communications specialist with the city’s Transportation Planning Unit, said the first detailed drawings of a new Crowchild will be the result of comments made by those attending public information sessions Nov. 13 and 15, along with an earlier online survey, and work by two consulting firms.
“We’re very much in the ‘collect feedback from the public’ phase through the month of November,” said Murray following the feedback sessions at the Olympic Volunteer Centre and in Marda Loop.
At this point, no decisions have been made on whether, and how, Crowchild would be redesigned, he said. Only when detailed plans have been prepared will city council be in a position to decide what will happen to the aging traffic artery.
The two feedback sessions attracted lots of attention, as more than 200 people attend in the first two hours of the meeting at the Olympic centre.
“I think the fabric of the city takes the wrong turn if they’re going to build more freeways in the inner-city,” said Calgarian Larry Lee, who was at the first meeting.
“I’ve seen gridlocks that are much worse than what we are experiencing in Calgary,” said Lee, using Vancouver, Shanghai and Beijing as examples.
The concepts that were presented in the public information sessions were shaped from the 4,208 responses and 2,872 written comments from the public online survey taken in early 2012.
Responses came from almost every community in Calgary and also from Cochrane and Airdrie.
“We quickly realized how important Crowchild Trail is to the entire transportation network, not just to those folks that live along the corridor,” said Murray.
“Do these concepts that we’re showing tonight achieve what people told us in the public online survey and do they (consider) what can happen 30 to 60 years out?”
The City of Calgary project team that is led by the Network Planning division has hired ISL Engineering and Stantec as consultants to make sure the concepts and options work.
“I like the idea of Kensington going under Crowchild Trail because I find that option very bike-friendly,” said three-season cyclist Jason Sokolosky.
“I support those interchanges. It would sort of open up those communities so it’s not as divided by Crowchild on both sides,” said Sokolosky, who frequently uses these interchanges when cycling to and from work.
“My objective tonight is to see that cycling has been incorporated in the plans,” said Calgary Bike Swap organizer Chris Grant.
Murray say that the design team took these concerns into consideration when coming up with the plans for the proposed changes.
“When you’re building a piece of infrastructure why not build it holistically so that it encompasses all modes of transportation?” he said.
But some residents are worried that the plans do not yet have a fully-developed idea of how to accommodate alternate forms of transportation.
“I talked to one of the engineers and he said that they haven’t actually thought about how to incorporate pedestrians or cyclists into the design, just sort of where they might go if they were to be included,” said Richard Zach, vice-president of Bike Calgary.
But Murray noted that this is only the preliminary stage of planning and that many changes will be forthcoming.
“We might not actually build the ultimate design that we’re showing because 30 to 40 years from now there might be a different perspective on how roadways function in a city.”
In the online survey, only seven per cent of respondents were concerned with transit delays on Crowchild Trail, whereas 80 per cent showed concern for traffic delays.
“We might have just a transit only lane and we would make sure that it would be designed in such a way that it wouldn’t impede the through lanes on Crowchild Trail,” said Murray.
As for Calgarians’ primary area of concern, the section of Crowchild from Memorial Drive to Bow Trail won out with 34 per cent of the vote.
“I think LRTs should be more prioritized than this Crowchild,” said Lee, an engineer who uses both transit and his own vehicle.
One survey question which asked what alternative travel modes people would like to use if it were more convenient. Some 45 per cent chose transit, 43 per cent would car-pool, 36 per cent would cycle, and 12 per cent would walk.
The corridor study will allow the city to better evaluate transportation priorities when developing future Transportation Infrastructure Investment Plans (TIIP).
To see the details of the Crowchild Trail Corridor Study, go to their website.