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Ward 6 News: Making the most of our infrastructure

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Ward 6 Report

As our city continues to grow, it is important that we keep building our infrastructure to meet increasing demands. This means making major investments in transit infrastructure and roads, but it also requires us to make the most of our infrastructure budget. With limited capital resources to address a growing challenge, we have shifted our focus to include low-cost, high-impact projects that provide the greatest value for your money. Operational improvement projects, Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS), and HOV lanes are all examples of how we are making the most of our infrastructure. 

Operational improvement projects

One way that our Transportation department reflects these values is through operational improvement projects, such as the recent enhancements made to Highway 8 between Sarcee Trail and 69 Street SW. Operational Improvement projects are high-yield, low-cost solutions that focus more on traffic flow than physical capacity. Rather than rebuilding a road so it can carry more traffic, optimization changes how traffic moves on that road and through intersections by adding turn lanes, adjusting traffic signals and making other lower-cost improvements.

Operational improvement projects are prioritized and carried out by the Transportation Optimization Division of Transportation Planning. The Highway 8 Operational Improvement Project has contributed to significantly reduced congestion during peak hours and better traffic flow at a relatively low cost. Other recent operational improvement project locations include John Laurie Boulevard/Shaganappi Trail NW, Anderson Road/Acadia Drive SE and Anderson Road/24 Street SW. 

Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS)

The use of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) is another important way that we are using our resources efficiently. ITS ties information together and makes it accessible to other systems. Making information obtained via traffic cameras available to Calgarians through the Calgary Traffic Report or the Calgary Road Conditions Map and App, is an example of this. 

ITS solutions fall into eight categories from the user perspective:

  • Traveler information services
  • Traffic management services
  • Public transport services
  • Electronic payment services
  • Commercial vehicle operations
  • Emergency management services
  • Vehicle safety and control systems
  • Information warehousing services

Six initiatives form the core of our ITS Program:

The benefits of ITS include reduced traveller delay, increased safety, reduced environmental impact, travel reliability, minimization of traffic impacts, and extended life of the transportation system. We have several ITS projects currently operational or under development in the City of Calgary, including the examples below. 

Road Weather Information System 

The Road Weather Information System (RWIS) uses pavement and atmospheric sensors to provide continuous information to Environment Canada and City of Calgary Roads officials. This information helps officials decide on the appropriate course of action based on current road conditions. 

Management Information System for Transportation 

The Management Information System for Transportation (MIST) allows our traffic engineers to monitor and control the operation of The City’s traffic signal network. MIST monitors 535 traffic signals connected to the system for proper operation and collects data on traffic flow, such as volumes and speeds. 

The signal system interacts with our LRT system, some bus routes and fire routes by providing priority for these vehicles and is also sometimes used to override the normal operation of traffic signals during major events or road construction. 

Traffic Signal Priority

Traffic Signal Priority (TSP) enables buses to request additional green traffic signal time to achieve travel time savings. Implementation of TSP at key intersections can save sufficient travel time while maintaining the existing level of service, reducing the number of buses needed on a route. Reducing the need for just one bus can save approximately $250,000 per year in annual operating costs, allowing those resources to be reassigned to other areas of the city. Calgary Transit is working to expand the TSP system to achieve these benefits. 

The TSP system is also compatible with the Calgary Fire Department’s traffic signal pre-emption system. This allows Calgary Transit to easily expand Traffic Signal Priority initiatives to other routes while providing similar benefits to the Calgary Fire Department.

Automated vehicle location and computer-aided dispatch

Many of our snow plows are now equipped with vehicle location equipment, allowing dispatchers to know where these vehicles are located at all times. The dispatchers can locate the closest available vehicle and request their response through a computer-aided dispatch system, significantly improving response time.

Transit passenger counting system

Transit monitors ridership through an automated passenger counting system that utilizes GPS-based technology to collect data.  The system collects data on the number of passengers embarking and disembarking, and the bus occupancy at each stop. Transit can then use this information to make decisions about service extensions, adjustments to frequency or route revisions. 

This same GPS system is used to determine the location of Transit vehicles and informs Transit information systems such as Teleride and the real-time information displays at some LRT stations. 

High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes

High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes are another way that we are making the most of our roadways in Calgary. There are different types of HOV lanes. The HOV lane on 9 Avenue SE is reserved for cyclists and Calgary Transit, whereas the one on Centre Street North allows for motor vehicles with two or more occupants as well as cyclists and Transit. 

HOV lanes have also recently been introduced on Crowchild Trail South between 33 Avenue and Bow Trail and between 17 Avenue and 33 Avenue. These lanes are Transit-only, which has increased transit travel speeds and service reliability. Reducing the time spent travelling on these buses encourages more people to utilize the service, which means fewer vehicles on the roads. It also means fewer buses are needed to maintain a higher level of frequency.  

Back to February 2013 report

This content represents the personal views and opinions of the Ward Councillor and should not be taken as a statement of policy of The City of Calgary. The inclusion of any external content does not imply endorsement by The City of Calgary.

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