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Deerfoot Trail Study

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The City is working with Alberta Transportation to develop both short- and long-term plans to manage traffic and improve safety on Deerfoot Trail. The study is considering a wide range of possible freeway management strategies, including some new to Calgary. The overall emphasis is on maximizing the existing infrastructure, accommodating future growth and aligning with relevant long-range planning documents, including the Calgary Transportation Plan.

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Progress to date

Building on the information gained in Phase 1 (which helped confirm problem areas, provide context around user experiences and identify stakeholder priorities), Phase 2 of the study was completed in Spring 2017 and resulted in five short-term recommendations. These recommendations were selected, from the many options considered, because they best met the following criteria identified for short-term improvements:

  • Provide benefits for five to 10 years
  • Able to be designed and implemented within two years of being funded
  • Offer improvements for problem locations that benefit the entire corridor
  • Result in benefits that are greater than the cost within 10 years

Next steps

The study focus has now shifted to developing long-term recommendations for the corridor. The project team will be gathering input on potential improvement options in 2018. All interested citizens are encouraged to subscribe to the project's email distribution list to receive project updates and be notified of future engagement opportunities.

The technical analysis and study recommendations will be completed by end of 2019. Two more rounds of public engagement are anticipated for the project, tentatively planned for Spring and Fall 2019. Final recommendations will be shared with stakeholders and Council in early 2020 to conclude the study.

Study overview

Deerfoot Trail is Calgary's oldest freeway, and the busiest in Alberta. The majority of Deerfoot Trail was built between 1971 and 1982. The city's population has doubled since 1981 and the aging infrastructure is no longer meeting current traffic demand, resulting in congestion, unreliability and safety concerns.

The study boundaries are the Stoney Trail interchanges in the north and south. This 37.5 km stretch includes 20 interchanges and more than 40 bordering communities. Please note: the Stoney Trail interchanges are included only as scope limits. It is not anticipated that the study or any resulting solutions will significantly affect these intersections.

Facts about Deerfoot Trail

  • Deerfoot Trail is part of the National Highway Network and managed by Alberta Transportation.
  • In Calgary, Deerfoot Trail is part of the Primary Goods Movement Network, and is classified as a skeletal road in the Calgary Transportation Plan. Skeletal roads are often high-speed roads aimed at moving cars and trucks for long distances.
  • The average daily traffic ranges from 83,000 vehicles per day at the south end to 170,000 vehicles per day north of Memorial Drive.
  • Deerfoot Trail is the only road, other than Stoney Trail, providing a continuous north-south connection across the city, and the only north-south skeletal road serving central and east Calgary.

Phase 1 - Existing conditions and problem definition

At the beginning of the study, the technical team undertook a thorough review of the corridor to understand how the road is operating and define the current problems. This included reviewing all background reports, a safety audit and a Bluetooth survey (picking up anonymous responders) to understand travel patterns and origins and destinations.

From June 1 - 30, 2016, road users were asked to provide input about their experiences using Deerfoot Trail by completing an online questionnaire, pinning comments to an online map or attending one of six open houses. This resulted in thousands of completed questionnaires (8000+) and map comments (3000+), which helped the project team confirm the problem areas, understand the context around user experiences and identify user priorities.

Phase 2 - Short-term improvement recommendations

Over the last 20 years, there have been 17 studies about Deerfoot Trail. Using those studies, the 10,000+ comments from citizens during the first Phase of engagement, and an updated technical analysis of the corridor today, the project team developed numerous potential short-term improvement options. In late 2016, the project team held two stakeholder workshops to review short-term improvement options.

Many improvement options were identified and considered along the entire corridor - in both directions - including for the problem areas around 17 Avenue S.E., Glenmore Trail and the Ivor Strong Bridge. It was determined that these areas require significant infrastructure investment and do not meet the criteria for consideration in the short-term. They will, however, be addressed in Phase 3 of the study when the project team develops the long-term recommendations.

For more details on some of short-term options considered, please see the Short-term Options Stakeholder Workshop What We Heard report.

Five short-term recommendations

The five recommendations that best met the criteria identified for short-term improvements include:

These short-term recommendations are preliminary but have been advanced enough to identify what additional land would be needed and the estimated cost to implement them. While there is currently no funding committed to the short- or long-term improvements on Deerfoot Trail, these details will inform future funding decisions.

Public engagement

The joint municipal-provincial team is committed to implementing a thorough and transparent public engagement and communications program as part of the Deerfoot Trail study. Both The City of Calgary and Alberta Transportation recognize the value of understanding this important road from many perspectives. Those interested in participation in future engagement initiatives are encouraged to subscribe to the project email distribution list.

Related links and documents